Ann Farabee: It’s all about the lighthouse

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 10, 2016

In July, my family visited the Outer Banks. When I say ‘OUTER’ – I mean outer! Just when I thought we couldn’t go any further ‘outer,’ we waited an hour in line, and then drove onto a ferry, and further ‘outer’ we went.

And, when I say ‘BANKS’ – I mean sloping hills with lots of sand! We even traversed Jockey’s Ridge, the largest active sand dune system in the eastern United States, which has the equivalent of 6,000,000 dump trucks full of sand. All that sand created some great ‘banks.’ (If you want to get the full effect, be sure to go on a day that the temperature reaches 100 degrees, like we did.)

The Lost Colony production in Manteo was excellent. The Wright Brothers Memorial in Kitty Hawk – let’s just say that ‘flight’ is amazing! And … Duck Donuts were yummy, although I regret not getting more.

But, for me … the trip was all about the lighthouses. I will never forget the beauty, strength, and comfort I felt as I stood looking up at the first one – Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The winding steps, 1,250,000 bricks, the sheer height, the incredible view- all for the purpose of protection and guidance. It was powerful!

As we traveled to three other lighthouses – Bodie Island, Currituck, Ocracoke- I realized that at each stop, I felt that same powerful moment, and I also remembered the words of this song: I thank God for the Lighthouse, I owe my life to Him, For Jesus is the Lighthouse, And from the rocks of sin, He has shone a light around me, That I could clearly see, If it wasn’t for the Lighthouse, Where would this ship be?

This song, ‘The Lighthouse,’ was written in 1970, by Ronny Hinson – a teenager, who was rehearsing with his siblings preparing to sing as a backup group at a Christian concert. As they searched through hymnals to find something they liked, Ronny disappeared for a few minutes to the downstairs bathroom. When he returned, he waved around a fluttering piece of toilet paper with some words he had written on it about a lighthouse. His siblings laughed at first, wadded it up, and threw it away, but a couple of hours later, his brother retrieved it, and they began singing and writing what became one of the greatest Southern Gospel songs in history.

What I find amazing about the writing of ‘The Lighthouse’ is that Ronny Hinson had never seen a lighthouse. After the song began to become well-known, he shared that he remembers riding his bike 30 miles to Santa Cruz, California, and climbing up a sand dune to see his first lighthouse. He remembered looking at it and thinking, “What a scene,” and then saw the contrast of the lighthouse standing there filled with hope in the middle of the dreary hopelessness of the gray ocean.

I love how he said, “What a scene.” That is exactly how I felt as I saw each lighthouse we visited and felt that ‘powerful moment’ every time.

Why do I need the lighthouse?

• It gets awfully dark out there.

• It is a strong tower that gives me a place of defense and protection when dense fog, dangerous shoals, insurmountable cliffs, and jagged shorelines come my way.

• It is a beacon of light that is designed to get my attention.

• It guides me on the sea of life, because the seas rage and the waves rise.

• It has a unique timing system that gives me the accurate ‘navigational fix’ I need, so I can know that God has my ‘comings and goings’ under control.

There’s a lighthouse on the hillside that overlooks life’s sea…. If it wasn’t for the lighthouse, where would this ship be?

It really is all about the lighthouse.

Ann Farabee has taught in Kannapolis City and Mooresville schools. Contact her at or visit

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