Hanging Out On The Porch
For the better part of my adult life, I have described my spiritual journey like I was on the front porch of a house. I was outside, looking inside, at what a real relationship with God was like. The problem was that I wouldn’t go inside. I thought there had to be another level of feeling or something that I was missing. Too many things seemed too routine or ritualized for what I thought real meant. My spiritual walk was way too much walk and not enough spirit. I’m not sure why I wouldn’t go in: maybe it would be weird inside; maybe I wouldn’t fit in; maybe I wasn’t good enough.
Growing up, I heard my porch analogy in reverse. I heard that you were in your house and Jesus was always on your doorstep – all you had to do was let Him in. Well, I believe that, but I let Him in a long time ago … I just never got to know Him. It would be like inviting someone into your house and asking them to go stand in the corner. I knew that He was there, but I never talked to Him very much or had significant engagement – certainly not a relationship.
Run with me a little bit on this whole “porch” thing. It’s interesting that only in looking back can I make the analogy. While I was living it, I didn’t know that there was a “porch” or an “inside.” I can see now that I spent so much time on the porch because it was comfortable. I knew how everything worked on the porch. I knew what was expected of me. I knew what was not expected of me. Isn’t it amazing what we will do in our lives to be comfortable? Isn’t it amazing what we won’t do in our lives to be comfortable? I spent much of my life content being on the porch looking out toward the yard, away from the house. Think Andy and Barney from the old Andy Griffith Show – when they were in black and white, of course. It was never the same after Barney left and they were in color – but I digress. If you’re old enough, are you picturing the look of contentment on their faces when they sit on the porch after one of Aunt Bee’s meals?
As I got older, I would look inside to see what was going on. I couldn’t see it clearly from outside, but somehow I knew that it was significant and meaningful. But I kept telling myself that there was enough activity on the porch to have a fulfilling life. Family, friends, job, sports, hobbies, entertainment – all became part of life on the porch. If I had time, I may squeeze God into that routine. I don’t mean to suggest that many of the things on the porch are not significant. I am suggesting that all of those things kept me busy enough to never really consider that there was something more.
I developed my porch analogy after hearing a brief part of a country song years ago called “My Front Porch Looking In.” The lyrics describe looking in the house from the front porch at what is really important. Now, anyone who knows me will chuckle at the notion that I got some type of thought or idea from a country song – no country tunes on any of my Spotify playlists. God really must have been trying to talk to me, but I just couldn’t hear it yet. I wasn’t ready to get uncomfortable. I think my faith had been on cruise control for so long that I was starting to fall asleep at the wheel. It wouldn’t be long before a crisis at my house would push me inside off the porch. We’ll talk more about that at another time.
I’ve spoken to groups on many occasions using this analogy about the progression of my faith. I wrote a book Life On The Porch Book and dug into how comfort kept me from the type of faith that I yearned for. We’ll look more at that word “comfortable” and what it does for us in life – and what it keeps us from doing in life.