Charleston in the spring. It’s not just a place to go, but a city to experience. A city that engages all of the senses through the fragrance of the tea olive, the ruggedness of the old cobblestone streets, and the sound of church bells mingling with the clip-clop of horses hooves as they pull carriage loads of tourists through the maze of streets.
The most intriguing part of this charming city, however, is its architectural history. The facades of houses and businesses still show scars incurred by wars, earthquakes and fires from over a century ago. The beautiful homes reflect the wealth of those who built such opulent accommodations. And the lack of telephone and electrical wires hanging across streets can be attributed to a town reaching back to its roots. A time when candles and then gas lanterns were the only source of light on a moonless night; to protect the innocent residents from burglars and drunks. But in order for a lamp to be of any use, there had to first be a lamplighter to ignite the flame.
Lamplighters were assigned certain areas to light the wicks of lanterns at dusk. The tradition began when concerned residents wanted to protect their homes from the vagrants and thieves who usually prowled neighborhoods through the dark of night. As history notes, the homeowner, who would carry a lantern, originally took turns with his neighbors to keep watch until dawn, making sure their homes were safe from attack. He became a watchman, calling out the hour, keeping a lookout for fires, and checking the doors to make sure they were locked securely.
Just one person and that little bit of light was enough to deter most criminals from attempting some underhanded deed in the black of night, creating a sense of peaceful security in the community.
Eventually, though, the homeowners of old quickly tired of rotating the night shift and began paying others a mere pittance to oversee their neighborhood. But these paid watchman didn’t do their job with nearly as much commitment as the ones who had the most to lose, the homeowners. Some even crossed lines and became thieves themselves because it paid better. Thus began the demise of many neighborhoods. The loss of assurance that all was well while they slept.
Finally, local governments stepped in and raised the pay of the watchmen so they could make a decent living. These watchman, who then became known as deputies, were the beginning of our modern police force.
But light was still needed to further help ward off the outlaws. As cities grew they installed permanent lanterns and hired men who were responsible for keeping the lanterns burning through the night, extinguishing them only after the sun had dawned over the horizon. The law and the light worked together to make the community safe again.
A light continues to be a symbol of protection today. If my young adult kids are still out when I go to bed I make sure to leave a light on for them—a sign that I care. A wise woman remembers the importance of light when building her dream home. As Christians, we are the light God sets in our homes and communities. That light emanates from Christ living within us. We are the watchmen He calls to pay careful attention to what’s going on around us.
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. ~ Proverbs 31:25-27
The woman described here in Proverbs is like the watchman who was the homeowner. She oversees her household well and with careful observation. She’s prepared for whatever situation may occur because she’s tapped into the true source of light. She can laugh at the days to come because she’s done her homework, studying and applying God’s word in her life. She understands this must be the core infrastructure of her home in order for her family to enjoy peace and security.
When we let down our guard and give up diligently seeking God, we allow others to take on the responsibility that is ours. Just as the homeowner grew tired of pulling night duty and paid another to take his place, we must realize that no one is as invested as we are. Our homes and communities will suffer if we don’t take our call seriously. Just as the light of the watchman deterred thieves and vagrants from victimizing a community, our inward light that comes from Christ and the knowledge of His word, helps to stave off the evil lying in wait to attack those who are precious to us. Let’s take to our post, ladies.
- One way to be light to those around you is by memorizing scriptures that have encouraged you. Share these verses with others who may be dealing with similar situations you’ve been through.
- How’s your connection to the Holy Spirit? If it’s not as strong as it should be, spend some time in prayer asking God to reignite the dwindling flame.
- Are you watching over the affairs of your household as you should? If not, pray about ways you can be a better observer and bring more security to your family.
Let’s work together to build kingdom homes!