Search Light

I took pride in operating that light until a flash of flame left me in the dark.

The summer before my 16th birthday, I worked for a local radio station operating a huge promotional searchlight. The light sat on two trailers. The front one held the generator, and the rear one held the five-and-a-half-foot-diameter light. Two very large power cables ran from the generator to the light. With a flip of the switch, more than a million candle power would light up the night sky. Anyone within 30 miles could drive to my location following its beam.

One night, however, as I sat in the truck, I heard a terrible noise. A huge plume of flame burst from the gas tank. As I leaped from the truck and started between the light and the generator, a second explosion came. The generator was on fire. I reached through the flames and turned off the ignition. The beam from the light faded as I raced toward the building for help.

I grabbed a fire extinguisher and quickly put out the flames. As I examined the damage, I could see that the positive electrical cable had scraped against the gas tank until a hole had been rubbed through the insulation. The power from the generator had burned a hole in the top of the gas tank almost four inches long.

Then the reality of the danger began to sink in. If the fire had continued, a deadly explosion would have been almost certain. Had some other power intervened in my behalf?

Sitting on the curb, I placed my head in my hands to thank my Heavenly Father for the protection I had been given. As I prayed, the awareness of a new light began to burn. This light did not light up the sky. This heavenly light illuminated my soul. It seemed to start slowly, and before I knew it, it filled me almost to overflowing. This was the first time I had ever felt such a powerful, yet calming feeling in such magnitude. It was more than love; it pushed every other fear and anxiety away. It was calm and peaceful. I wept with joy as I realized it was the comforting influence of the Holy Ghost. My prayers continued. I clung to the feeling.

After several minutes, I repaired the burnt wires of the old light and covered the hole in the tank with a wet rag. But as I wondered about turning the light on again, I heard a familiar voice: “Ken, what’s the matter? Why is the light out?”

To my surprise, there was my father. He had been having a quiet evening at home when the same light touched his soul, and he had been directed to come and see me. As he drove to find me, he had been following the light in the sky. When that light went out, he was temporarily lost. To find me, he had to rely on the other light, the Light of Christ.

It has been almost 25 years since that experience. Every time I think of that night, those glorious feelings of love and protection flood into my being. The feelings of importance and power from running that magnificent light were dwarfed by the feelings of love and comfort gained by the knowledge that I am really a child of God and that He knows me and loves me.

[illustration] Illustrated by Bryan Lee Shaw