Jonah, my 3-year old and I have a game we like to play. We try to outdo each other in the love department. Usually our conversations go something to the effect of- Me: Jonah I love you to the moon.
Him: I love you to the stars!
Me: Well I love you to the sun!
Him: Well I love YOU to the (fill-in-the-blank)
I adore seeing how his mind works as he tries to out-big me with the size of his love, hearing how 'far' he perceives 'far away' really is. Our love goes to some interesting places, lately he's been stuck on the front porch for some reason. He has been ending our exclamations of love with "I love you to the front porch." It tickled me the first time and God-only-knows how that particular location ended up in the universe of possible destinations. But it did, and I am grateful.
Today he moved just a <bit> off the map though. Same general theme, but he traveled further. Today he ended with "Mom, I love you to the front porch of Heaven!"
Huh. What an interesting idea... the front porch of heaven.
He got me wondering if such a place exists, where it is, and what must happen there. Why did he choose such a particular location to end his love? I'm sure, being 3 years old, there wasn't too much thought put into it. But this mama sure is thinking about it- and because you get to partake in the misc musings of my brain- I wanted to work out on paper (or more specifically in a blog) the possibilities.
Front porches- where people enter a house, where company comes to visit, where the door is opened by the owner to guests. Where packages are placed, welcoming signs for the seasons are erected, cheerful wreaths celebrating holidays are displayed. The place where the doorbell is, the mat to wipe your feet, the lock that keeps out unwanted visitors. Front porches used to be the gathering place in the evenings, a place to watch the world go by and rock the evening away in a porch swing or rocking chair. We turn the porch light on to welcome people, allowing them to see the door even in the dark.
Ah- I'm beginning to see a picture. Are you?
Yes, indeed. Most of us do what we can to make our front porch's as welcoming as possible. We want them to be cheerful, well-lit, amicable, safe, and give the impression of hospitality. We want people to visit, to feel included and like family. We brighten the doorposts and put silly ringtones on the doorbell.
We want the porch to encourage people to ENTER IN to our homes.
Sigh.... having imagined all this, if the point of porches here on earth serves this purpose, then how much moreso would the front porch of heaven? I can only dream that God would have it adorned with the comfiest rocking chairs, the cheeriest wreaths, maybe some great angelic lighting to set a heavenly ambiance. He would have the best, most conversational, and warm hosts sitting around, ushering us up towards the door, handing us a cool glass of heavenly ambrosia as we walk by. I can see the golden stepping stones up to the stair-rails now- the huge front door, beautiful carved... in short, the most inviting, welcoming, heart-warming place you can imagine.
Because God wants us to ENTER IN to His House.
So where is this heavenly place? Does it exist? Just now writing this, I think it does. Only it's not where we think it would be- it is, however, where it should be. Where it needs to be...
The front porch of Heaven is right here on earth.
Dear ones, fellow Believers, we are His front porch! We are called to welcome people in, to draw them to heaven, to invite them over, to help usher them to the door. Though we are not responsible for their actual entry (their salvation), we are on the hook for providing that crucial entry area. The Church, it's members are the railings, the stepping stones, the friendship lanterns, the rocking chairs, the doorbells, the porch sweepers, the ambrosia pourers, the seasonal wreath-makers... just name it! How we treat people, what our witness is, how we proclaim God, how we share the Gospel- is that not all just the invitation to heaven? Are we not the very front porch of the Kingdom? Still on the outside, but right.on.the.cusp. of being inside.
Brothers and sisters, we are the front porch of heaven. Here, right now, where we are, doing what we're doing is either welcoming people closer to that door, or pushing them away. Not unlike the dark, rundown houses with "Beware of Dog" signs posted everywhere, broken porch slats, and burnt out lights with broken glass, the places that no one would feel comfortable going up to in broad daylight much less at night- so we, as the front porch of heaven, can eternally alter people's perception of the house of and character of God. The way we allow His porch to be displayed tells other's much about His nature and the way His House (heaven) is. More often than not the front porch gives a good indication of the state of the inside of the house.
So I guess the point of this blog just became how are we doing (both corporately and individually) with heaven's front porch? What is the impression we're giving of this house called heaven? How's your front porch light shining? Is the bulb working, does the glass need shined? What about the state of the door? Locked? Ajar? What about the welcome mat- what does it say about you? Is effectively engaging people on to the porch, sitting them in rockers and bringing some sweet tea?
More pointed, drawing this full circle as Jonah's proclamations echo in my mind, "Mom I love you to heaven's front porch!"
Can you love someone to heaven's front porch? Will you?
Can you bring them up and help usher them in? Will you be that welcoming and homecoming presence in their lives?
Who do you need to pull onto heaven's front porch today?
Matthew 5: 14-16 You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl, instead they put it on a stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.