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One Purpose. Period.

by Dean Waterman

In the nineteenth century, lighthouses were prominent along the East Coast of the United States. They were strategically placed to let passing ships know the dangers posed by rocky shores, allowing them to avoid a wreck and the high cost of lives as a result of an accident. These lighthouses served their purpose well, many for more than 150 years.

There is a story about one lighthouse operator who was diligent in his duty. Every month he received a supply of oil that would keep the lamps in his lighthouse lit for a month (or a little longer, just in case). His sole responsibility was to be sure the light was constantly lit to warn oncoming ships. Period.

One month he received various requests for “just a bit of oil,” a little here, a little there. One woman needed just a bit of oil for her tiny lamp. Another man needed just a cup of oil to use on his machinery so the gears could be greased, and he could earn money to feed his family. The lighthouse operator knew he needed the oil for one purpose and one purpose only, but he chose to share with those in need.

Two days before his next supply of oil was scheduled to arrive, he ran out. That night, as his lighthouse was unable to cast any light into the darkness, a storm brewed on the ocean. Several ships, unable to see any light to warn them, wrecked on the treacherous shoreline. Numerous people were killed as a result, owing their deaths to the dark lighthouse.

When the authorities investigated the cause of the wrecks, they found that the lighthouse had been dark that night. To their utter shock, they discovered it was because there had been no oil for the lamps. When they asked the operator why there was no oil, he explained that he had given it out to people in need who had asked for it. “You were given that oil,” said the investigator, “for one purpose, and one purpose only: to be a beacon in the darkness and keep ships from wrecking and costing lives.”

Is it possible we in the church have forgotten that we have one purpose? We have been given the Light. Our sole responsibility is to shine so that others can be saved from the wreckage of sin. We might come up with other reasons to exist, but the reality is that we exist to promote Jesus and His light to the world so lost souls can be saved for eternity. We can choose to squander away the light He gives us by wasting our talents, or we can use them for one purpose, and one purpose only: to promote Jesus and His redeeming grace.

Dean Waterman writes from South Riding, Virginia. This story was originally posted on August 31, 2013, on his blog,

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