The Privileged Life: Do You Have a “Front Porch”?

“Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.” (Psalm 90:1)

In our small-town part of America, front porches used to be important. 

They were more than just a place to get out of the rain. They were a sociable spot…where family and friends gathered on sunny afternoons or cool evenings…where you could wave to folks passing by…where you played games on a homemade checkerboard…where you held important discussions about local politics, old memories, and best recipes.

Even Hollywood once featured this important facet of American life. Watch enough episodes of the Andy Griffith Show, and eventually you’ll see Andy, Opie, Aunt Bee, and Barney carrying on lazy conversations around Andy’s front porch. 

Lots of older homes in the early 20th century were built with wide (sometimes wrap-around) porches, either on the front or back of the house. These porches were welcome respites after dinner, places to hand-crank the ice cream freezer for the best vanilla or peach ice cream ever. 

Wooden swings with pillows were typical furnishings, along with rocking chairs. Screens were added over the years, to keep away pesky mosquitoes and flies. 

Many an afternoon I dozed on my grandparents’ front porch swing, listening to mockingbird songs and my grandmother’s stories. My beloved, Mark, grew up playing all around his grandparents’ porch at their home in West Virginia where the older folks rocked and visited while the grandkids chased fireflies in the yard. All happy memories.

Today’s homes, however, are seldom built with these old-fashioned porches. And the front porches that do exist? 

They’re empty.

The other evening, we drove along country roads past lots of homes with front porches. No one was sitting on them. No one was there to wave.

People nowadays just disappear behind their closed doors, to watch television or work on computers. We’re certainly guilty of that. Our porch is just a tiny “stoop,” with no room even for a skinny chair. 

In my memories, the front porch represented a place of peace…a place where you found acceptance, comfort, and life…a place where all generations gathered and passed along their histories and experiences. 

Do you have a “front porch” at your home? A place of peace and acceptance for your family and guests? You’re blessed if you do. I suppose ours is our kitchen table. It’s our go-to place for prayer, family business, most of our meals, playing board games, and laughter. We can’t easily wave to passers-by, but it’s the best alternative we have to those porch days of our childhoods. 

If you’re in the same boat, take a look at your household and pick a “front-porch” place you can establish for family/friend time, whether it’s indoors or on a back patio. Dinners together are often hard to arrange in busy schedules (especially when all involved are adults), but gathering at mealtime is still important for nurturing relationships. Get away from electronics of all kinds…TVs, computers, and cellphones don’t belong in “front-porch time.” 

Jesus calls to us, in Revelation 3:20, to spend this very same kind of time with Him: Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” 

What a privilege to invite Jesus into our homes! Will we be waiting there for Him, eager to open our doors to welcome Him when He knocks? Will we find Him in the voices of those around us who are older…and pass along our faith to the next generation? Will He join us on our porch?

May we all have our “front porches” ready to host others, especially Jesus as our most honored Guest!

Jesus, let us hear Your knock at the door of our hearts. Make us willing and ready to receive You into our families, friendships, and personal life. Give us opportunities in our homes to share Your love with all those who gather with us, in Your peace and joy. In Your name, Amen.

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© Copyright 2022 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

My beloved Mark, as a cute young boy, on his grandparents’ front porch in West Virginia
Mark’s grandparents’ home in West Virginia, artist’s rendering by his gifted brother, Randy
My mom, enjoying her back porch and swing, hand-crafted by her brother, Charlie. The swing is a replica of the nearly-century-old swing from their grandparents’ home in Alabama. Charlie and his wife, Rosie, inherited it and have carried that swing with them through multiple moves–they continue to enjoy it on their back porch today.

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