This is an excerpt from my next devotional:
The Front Porch
By Shawn R. Jones
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
A three-story abandoned brownstone sat in the middle of our block. It seemed as if the only things holding it up were the two houses it was positioned between. The same maroon chipped paint that framed the boarded up windows and doors also trimmed the small rickety porch. From a child’s perspective, I am sure the house looked “haunted.” I was quite nervous walking by it myself, and I certainly never walked by it at night. Too me, it seemed to serve no purpose at all, except for the many insects and rodents it housed, until I rode by it early one morning.
On that morning, there was a tan mound on that rickety porch. At first I couldn’t tell what it was, so I stopped my car and stared out the driver’s side window. There was someone sleeping under a tan coat. My heart shuddered and my throat tightened. She twisted, rolled over, and stood up. I put my foot on the gas and proceeded to parallel park. After I parked, I got out of my car and looked down the block before I put my key in my front door. I was so shocked by what I saw next. The lady was using the coat to sweep the porch, her porch, her home.
Compared to that homeless woman, I have so much, and yet I still complain. Her coat was her blanket, her pillow, and her broom. That was over fifteen years ago. I don’t know where she is now, but I can still see her sweeping. It was also during this time that my elderly neighbor used to complain that I didn’t clean off my own porch well enough. I gave her the poorest excuse I could think of, “I don’t clean it because it never stays clean.” There was a bird’s nest above my front door and the birds left raindrops of poop across the gray painted wood. It was an unpleasant sight that I seldom swept. My neighbor would fuss, “Girl, you need to get some bleach and clean that porch off!” I was thinking, Is she serious?! The inside of my house is enough to clean. I don’t have time to worry about a porch. I am sure I would have felt differently if the porch was all I had.
We acquire so much that each one of our possessions becomes less and less significant to us. What did a porch mean to me when I had a beautiful two-story brownstone behind it loaded with tons of things? Now, if a storm or fire destroyed the gray wooden posts that held the porch up, the porch would suddenly become a priority. Isn’t this how we sometimes treat many of our possessions? Isn’t that also how we also treat some of the people in our lives?
Take an inventory of everything you own. You can do this mentally, but it would be best if you could write it down on paper. And because you are so blessed, this could take you hours, so I suggest you plan on writing this list over a period of a few days, or a few weeks, or a few months. Once you are well into this exercise, you are going to realize that I have asked you to do an impossible task because you have so much you cannot write it all down. What you might want to do instead is give away some of that stuff that you never get a chance to use. Once you have done that, maybe you will take better care of the things you actually need.
Speaking of needs, let’s move on to the people in our lives. I know it’s sometimes difficult to accept that we need people. I guess that’s why it’s difficult for us to thank them sometimes. But there are people we should take a moment to thank. They are worth the time. They are also worth the small gesture. Who has God placed in your life to be a blessing to you? I can think of a few people in my life I should thank with a small bouquet of flowers, lunch, or at the least, a phone call. Some people just need to hear the sincerity of your voice. They need to hear you say, “I love you. I appreciate you. Thank you for being there for me.” You know, thanking people sometimes makes us feel awkward, but imagine how you would feel if they were no longer there. How would you feel if the porch suddenly collapsed?
Dear Lord, I have learned so much from watching that homeless woman sweep the porch of an abandoned house with her coat. I don’t even know if she is still homeless or alive today, but my prayer is that you bless her wherever she is. She has indeed blessed me. Let her know that her life is significant and full of meaning and purpose. Shelter her, wherever she may be. Amen.