On one of our trips out West, we drove up the Oregon coast and found that there is much to see and do in Tillamook County. For example, you can take a tour and taste incredibly delicious cheese at the Tillamook Cheese factory.
A marvelous sampling of their cheeses prompts purchases of the goodies, as well as investigation into the stores at home where we can acquire the cheese without traveling across the country! In fact, I would love to enjoy God’s creation right now by having some Tillamook cheese!
A real treat awaits the traveler because the Oregon coastline itself provides beautiful images of the ocean with the waves breaking upon rocky shoreline.
Another place to visit in Tillamook County is the Cape Meares State Park which boasts the Cape Meares Lighthouse. A wide asphalt trail goes from the parking area, through the forest, into the clearing with the lighthouse directly ahead.
The lighthouse is 38 feet tall, not exactly stellar height for a lighthouse. In fact, it is the shortest lighthouse in Oregon. But, it sits at the coastline on the top of a cliff making its effective height 223 feet above sea level. So despite its own short stature, when the light was operating, it could be seen for 21 miles.
Beside from being an interesting place to visit, what does Tillamook County, Oregon have to do with me? Or with you?
I think it provides us with an illustration and/or lesson for our life and our Christian walk, especially when we focus on Ephesians 2:8-10.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Ephesians 2:10 ESV
The lighthouse was built for a purpose – it was to warn mariners that they were approaching the shoreline and it was dangerous to come too close. It was to provide navigational assistance, and it saved lives as a result of its light shining far out over the water.
Notably, it did all this while being only 38 feet tall. Its effective height did not come from itself, rather it came from the terrain on which it was placed – the cliff was high and from that vantage point, the little lighthouse could be seen for 21 miles.
Paul says that we have been saved through grace by faith alone. We had nothing to do with securing our salvation from sin; Jesus Christ did that atoning work on the cross for us. And, we did nothing to deserve the atonement that He provided. It was a gift of grace – not based on our work, our reputation, our finances, our stature in the community, our anything.
The reason for this gift is stated in verse 10 – we were created by God in Christ for good works that God had prepared for us to do long before we were born.
God is sovereign. He is in control of our world and all that is in it. His will, His purpose, will be accomplished and mankind cannot thwart it. In Concise Theology, J. I. Packer says:
“The assertion of God’s absolute sovereignty in creation, providence, and grace is basic to biblical belief and biblical praise.” [Sovereignty, God Reigns at page 33.]
One of the best descriptions of God’s sovereignty came from a pagan king after a lesson God provided to him.
“At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?“”
Daniel 4:34-35 ESV
The little lighthouse had a job to do and it was able to do it because of strength that was not its own – it was based upon the strength of the mountain on which it was built. We were created by God and saved from our sin by Jesus Christ so that we could do the work that God preordained for us to do all for His glory and His purposes through the power of the Holy Spirit.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:5 ESV
We have no strength in our own self to do anything of eternal, lasting value for God. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to do God’s work in the world.
Am I serving His purpose, the good work that God had preordained for me to do? Am I working for the Lord through my own power and for my own reputation or am I relying on Him and the Holy Spirit to work through me for the glory of God? Am I refusing to shine because I am only of modest stature, or am I willing to shine my brightest for my Lord and let the Holy Spirit magnify the light so that it shines where He wants it to go?
Father, I give You honor and glory for Your sovereign love and mercy, grace and power that was shown by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I pray that You would give power to these words and that they would accomplish that which You desire, through Christ Jesus I pray.