As a native of North Carolina, I’m interested in interesting bits of information about my state. I’d like to share with you an old legend about Nags Head, a town located on the Outer Banks of eastern North Carolina. This legend has never been officially verified, but it sure makes for a good story.
The legend has it that in the 1700s Nags Head was home to a group of ruthless land pirates known as “wreckers” (sometimes also called “bankers”). These men would hang lanterns around the necks of “nags” (horses or mules) and slowly walk the animals up and down the beach at night. Out in the darkness of the Atlantic, a ship would mistake the bobbing light for the light of another ship. Figuring that the other ship had found safe passage around the shoals just off the island, the ship would turn inland and run aground on Diamond Shoals.
In the morning the “wreckers” would come along and gather up the timber to sell it and make money. The timber was used in everything from building new houses to making kitchen utensils. It was all a thriving business.
Even now visitors to Nags Head are shown old houses that were supposedly built and furnished with the material taken from these shipwrecks. They’re also told that it’s very possible that Nags Head took its name from the practice of hanging the lanterns around the necks of the “nags.” Estimates say that over two thousand ships perished off this coast during this time period.
Nags Head is now a tourist town of around 2,700. If it actually ever was a haven for land pirates, those days are long gone. This doesn’t mean, though, that there aren’t still some “wreckers” out there. A “wrecker” is anyone or anything that causes another to sail into dangerous waters. A desirable man or woman can wreck a marriage. A bottle can wreck a life. A dirty business deal can wreck a career. A church leader who doesn’t follow the Lord can wreck a church.
The key to avoiding each of these “shipwrecks” is to accurately recognize the wrecker. Don’t fall for just any light in a dark night. Don’t be so quick to trade the known for the unknown. Don’t be misled by a false reality.
Most of us have heard the old saying, “God won’t put more on you than you can handle.” I even had a friend once call me and ask me where that verse is in the Bible. Even though the saying’s principle is a sound one, I had to tell my friend that there is no Bible verse that specifically supports the saying. The verse in question actually has to do with temptation. It is 1 Corinthians 10:13, and it says: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
Please note the teaching of the verse. God will never allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to withstand. Whenever you get close to your breaking point with some form of temptation, you need to look for God’s escape hatch out of that situation. The promise of the verse is that it will be there.
I don’t know what’s going on in your life right now, but could it be that you are considering sailing off toward some strange light? Are you just about to change your course in life simply because you think this light will lead you into safe waters? Friend, beware the wrecker! If God really wanted you to chart that course, the way would be much clearer and more sure. The night wouldn’t be so dark and the light wouldn’t be so questionable. Rather than turning yourself toward that light, you need to start looking around for God’s way of escape from the temptation. That way will be there and it will keep you from a disastrous shipwreck.