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  • Jane Wheeler

La Jument

I have this picture up on the wall in my living room. It was given to Brian and I as a wedding gift.

This picture intrigues me, it gives me the “gotta’s”. I gotta know who the man is, where this is located, what happened when the wave crashed into the lighthouse, and who took the picture?

I sit and study this picture for hours. I feel like this picture represents life probably more so than any other analogy I have come across.

This is the lighthouse in its calm phase: blue sky, sunshine, rhythmic waves lapping at the base of the lighthouse, the odd bird cries as it fly’s overhead, the sounds hum with the mechanics of the flashing warning light, off and on, off and on. The light is a beacon, a warning, to ships that there is danger. This picture represents life when all is well, good and peaceful. We often do not even know we are in this phase until something crowds in on us and takes us to the next level.

The next level or the “normal” phase. Choppy waters with the rise of white crested waves, the water churning around the base of the lighthouse, the sounds start to get loud, the wind cries out and the water gurgles, roars and pitches. The sound of the light mechanisms is not heard unless you strain yourself to hear it. The sounds drown out the birds, although you can still see the occasional bird playing in the wind, soaring up and down with the currents. The light still continually flashes on and off.

The “normal” phase is where “life happens”, it is the normal ebb and flow of events, both good and bad. We go through life balancing the motions of back and forth, life swirls around us like the waves swirl around the base of the light house. It is constant motion, and we are caught up in a circle of work, home, spiritual, children, self, all the while trying to balance and wishing we were back in the “calm phase” and wondering how we got so busy and we may even feel out of control.

And then we have the storm pictures.

It is at this stage that the picture hanging in my living room was taken.

This lighthouse is called La Jument off the northwest corner of France. It is about 300 meters off the coast in a heavy traffic sea lane that experiences severe weather, huge waves and strong currents for most of the year. It has been the area where tragic tales of shipwrecks and loss of life have been told for hundreds of years. La Jument is built on a rock and the building of it began in 1904 and did not complete until 1911 because inclement weather halted or slowed the building process continually. A private Frenchman paid to have the lighthouse built after he was almost a casualty of a ship wreck.

The picture was taken by photographer Jean Guichard, who during a violent storm ventured out in a helicopter to take some storm photographs. The storm in question was on December 21, 1989 when a low front system from Ireland came pounding at the door; waves, some over 20 – 30 meters high pummeled the lighthouse. A series of powerful waves had crashed against the lighthouse, breaking in windows, ripped the front door, flooded the tower and washed away furniture. The man inside was Theodore Malgorn, the lighthouse keeper. He had heard the helicopter and had come to the front door to see what was going on, he was needing to be rescued. It was at that precise moment that a huge wave crashed into the lighthouse.

Theodore realized by a fraction of a second, that the wave was about to implode on the lighthouse rushed back in and shut the door, saving himself from certain death. Both Theodore and Jean survived the storm. The photo is the most widely known, best selling and famous photograph of Jean’s career.

That is the who, what, where answers to my questions. How does this pertain to life?

I think that like Theodore, we often live in our carefully made towers: towers that are able to withstand a lot, often built on the right rock foundation, solid. But like nature, when the forces join together and you get currents, winds, and rain, they form a perfect storm to come at you with such force that you never see it coming. Those are the things in life that rip it apart and leave you standing there needing to be rescued.

Things like car accidents, death, disease, fire, job loss, abuse, bankruptcy, adultery and betrayal, divorce, the things in life that take your legs out from under you, smash you down and leave you yearning for the elusive calm that seems to be always out of reach.

It is then that we need rescuing, just like Theodore. He had made the call. He was waiting for help, he knew he could not do it himself. When we reach the floor and are looking up, often our pride prevents us from reaching out to others to help us.

Rescue and recovery look different for everyone because everyone’s story is different and the things they have to recover from are different.

It takes a very brave person to make the realization that they cannot do life on their own. Often they have struggled for years swimming in the same circles of despair and brokenness, not sure how to get out, grasping for whatever they could find that might make it better.

Hope that someone, bigger than themselves, more powerful than themselves is with them through the journey. Hope in something that has the power to stop the wind and waves. They realize they are not alone and that there are other people who care and will walk with them in this journey.

You do have access to a person who is bigger than all storms, His name is Jesus. He calmed the wind and storms while He was here on earth and they still have to listen to Him today. You have access to other people who will care and walk with you in your journey, but you have to take that first step. Reach out today for the Rock that will withstand ALL storms, the Rock that never fails.

Mark 4:37-40

"A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

We all have been broken in different ways, we all need healing and mending and if we are brave enough, we too can find the hope and healing we need. Our lighthouse beckons, it warns, it is safety in the storm.

John 8:12

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Reach for the light that never goes out, it never fails, it will not matter how high the waves get. He can handle it. Trust Him.

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