I pour a cup of hot coffee…swirl in the cream and the stevia…stir until it is the perfect shade of blond…it’s for the fifteen year old who is painting our front porch steps. It’s his favorite treat…piping hot coffee. It’s the least I can offer for this son who does so much to make our family work well. I sit on the porch and watch him work that brush back and forth. These steps he paints have been in our minds eye for ten years now….long ago we built that enormous wrap around porch but never made it assessable from the front. Seems rather inhospitable to say the least. Like saying we are here but we aren’t wanting anyone to invade our out of reach spaces. Which is really not our heart at all. So when we finally built them a couple of weeks ago we built them long and wide and now our young man paints them bright white.
They stream from the edge of the porch clear out to the sidewalk…to scream the one true message “come, please, anyone, interrupt us with your need”. As I sit here and chat casually with my resident painter I realize that he too needs to see us welcome the stranger…he needs desperately to know that neighbors are treasured gifts given to us for such a short time for the purpose of transporting the Gospel of Hope from one family to another. It’s a generational effort. He does well, this amateur painter…filling in all the cracks and crevices and carefully covering all the wood to look like an invitation to know our God. For as long as we have lived here our porch has been filled with children…our own…and a great host of others…there have been summer tea parties here…music and singing and laughter …Bible studies …and all manner of little people pretending going on! But as we have lived here, have we really loved here? Today we paint a statement of welcome. Finally there is a royal invitation. There’s nothing really majestic about our southern style porch…no elaborate outdoor furniture or matching chair sets…not even a wreath on the front door…but I sit here and pray that for as long as we end up living here we might communicate His grace filled love here. That this strapping strong fifteen year old lad will look forward to the day that he can build a front porch that will welcome strangers. That he will catch the spirit of hospitality to neighbors…that he will know all his neighbors by name …that he will know how they take their coffee or if they like pumpkin pie or if they prefer apple better. I pray he exceeds us in the ability to make someone feel comfortable and loved and needed. Oh that he would purpose in his heart today that his neighbors are worth investing in…in sacrificing for …and in communicating Christ to as an act of true worship. It’s not about the size or the stateliness of your home entrance…it’s about what that welcoming spot communicates. It’s more about how the door swings open all friendly and how your heart begins to look for ways to welcome whoever you might find there. Eternity steps…that’s what I hope our son is painting in his heart today. A place to visit the Redeemer without fear of rejection. A place where our neighbors can experience the only Jesus they might ever know on earth. God help us trade the temporal for lasting treasures not touched by human hands.