It’s late September, 2017. I’m sitting next to my wife, Terry, on the Isle Royale Queen for a fall color tour on the Portage Canal. Our round trip tour takes us from Houghton, MI, to the North Entry of the channel. We leave in the late afternoon on a stunning sunny day. The sun’s rays cascade down the steep banks of the Portage, lighting up foliage on maples, oaks, and birch. Along the way, families gather on piers to wave at us and shout their greetings. Small boats in the channel honk their horns.
As I cup my wife’s hand gently, we visit, reminisce, and enjoy the explosion of color that envelopes us!. By the time we get to the North entry, daylight is slipping away, and clouds are rolling in. As the Isle Royale Queen begins her slow, sweeping u-turn into Lake Superior, I’m glad Gitche Gumme’s waters are fairly calm. But even then her swells are enough for us to be relieved when the Queen heads south again, safe back in the channel.
Now it is dusk. Darkness is setting in fast. The dazzling oranges, reds, and yellows of the trees have been replaced by lights on docks and candles in windows.
As I look over at Terry, I see she is sleeping again. The cancer has spread, and her strength is slipping away day-by-day. As I hold her hand, I gaze at the lights along the shore. One candle, in a cabin’s window, rivets my attention. It is so warm. So peaceful. So calm. So inviting. That’s when I wonder, “Is that what Terry’s cabin in heaven will look like?”
It’s been six years since I saw that candle at the end of the day. But I have never forgotten it. I still wonder what Terry’s heavenly cabin looks like. Knowing her, it’s filled with candles--not just in windows, but on tables and shelves, with several more on the mantle for good measure. White ones, green ones, red ones, purple ones, blue ones. Scented ones--cranberry, pine, and pumpkin-spice. Jar candles, pillar candles, taper candles, and votives—everywhere!
Not that she needs them. One Light is enough to warm her—and will be enough for all of us through eternity itself! What is that Light? He is the one described in the book of Revelation. “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God has given it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” (Revelation 21:23) And again, “There will no longer be any night or any need for lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22:5)
The Lamb-light shines brightly in our lives on this side of eternity, too. Soothing. Protecting. And ever-so-inviting, as he warms us with his promise, “I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
Our Light means all the more to us, at the end of the day, when the valley of the shadow of death closes in around us. When our eyes grow dim, and our breaths grow shallow. When loved ones gather around and share stories. Crack jokes. Sing hymns. Read Scripture—all to help point us to our one Candle in the window. Our Lamp who is always watching, planning, and waiting for the perfect moment to invite us, “Come, you who are blessed by my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.” (Matthew 25:34)
Oh, how our Light will warm us! At The End of The Day.
Rev. Glenn Schwanke