For more than fifty years that woman tended her little lighthouse. When she was a young girl there had been a wild storm, and her father, out in his fisherman’s boat, lost his life. There were no shore-lights. His boat had struck a huge, dangerous rock called Lonely Rock, and been wrecked. The father’s body was found in the morning washed up on the shore. She watched by her father’s body, as was the habit of her people, until it was laid away. Then she laid down on her bed and slept the day through. When night came she rose, lit a candle, put it in the window, drew up her spinning-wheel, and began her night vigil for the unknown out at sea.
All night long, and all her life long, her vigil of love and light continued. From youth to old age, through winter and summer, storm and calm, fog and clear, that humble lighthouse beacon failed not. Each night she spun so many hanks of yarn for her daily bread, and one hank over for the candle. She turned night into day, reversing the whole habit of her life, and holding every other thing subject to her self-imposed task of love. And through the years many a fisherman out at sea, and many an anxious woman watching by hearth and crib, sent up heart-felt thanks to God for that little, steady light. And many a life was saved, of which no record could be kept.
That tells the whole story of sacrifice. A need, nobody to meet it; the need passing into an emergency; and that into the tragedy of an unmet emergency; a heart sore torn to bleeding by the tragedy thrust bitterly home; then sacrifice, lifelong, that others might be saved where her loved one was lost, and still others spared what she herself suffered. And that story has been repeated with endless variations, and is being repeated, in every land, on every mission-field, home and foreign, and in almost every home of all the world.
Sin’s Healing Shadow.
Sacrifice has come to be a law of life. Wherever there is sin there will be a call for sacrifice. For sin makes need, and need intensifies into emergency. And need and emergency mean sacrifice thrust upon some one in peril. And they call for sacrifice, volunteered by some one, who would save the man in peril. And wherever there are true men and women, as well as need, there will be sacrifice.
And sin is everywhere. Even nature is full of evidence of a bad break in all of its processes. The finger-marks of decay and death are below and above and all around in all its domain. That is sin’s unmistakable ear-mark. Man’s mental powers, and his loss of a full knowledge of his powers, tell the same story. And so there is need. Everywhere you turn need’s pathetic face, drawn and white, looks piteously into yours, pleading mutely for help.
And so there is sacrifice. Sacrifice is sin’s healing shadow. It follows sin at every turn, binding up its wounds, pouring in the oil and wine of its own life, and taking the hurt victims into its own warm heart. Nothing worth while has ever been done without sacrifice. Every good thing done cost somebody his life. The life was given out with a wrench under some sharp tug. Or it was given in the slower, more painful, more taxing way of being lingeringly given out through years of steadfast doing or enduring.