We have a fairly small front porch. We don’t spend much time there, partly because we live on a cul-de-sac, and our front porch doesn’t offer much privacy. It looks directly into the yards, and lives, of several other families.
We spend much more time on our backyard deck. That’s where we can see most of our flowers and our garden. It’s where we grill during the summer time, and where we enjoy the privacy provided by a number of mature trees.
Last weekend, though, our son Caleb brought over his lawn trimmer to see if I could help him make it work, since it used to be my lawn trimmer. When he arrived, I met him on the front porch, and for some reason we sat down there to work on it. Soon my wife, Beth, joined us, and noted that the only other person who seemed to be outside that beautiful Saturday was our neighbor who has cancer. Let me call her Cindy.
Cindy was out tending to her beautiful front yard flowerbeds. Suddenly Beth exclaimed, “Oh my, Cindy just fell.” Caleb and I then looked up from our work, and saw Cindy lying on her sidewalk.
“Maybe she’s OK. Let’s see if she gets up,” we said. “We don’t want to embarrass her by running over there if she just lost her balance for a minute.”
But as we watched, Cindy just laid there for a few seconds. Then, with great effort, she raised one hand and began waving it slowly in the air.
We all then sprinted to her side. Cindy was relieved to see us, and asked if we would help her try to get up. She had fallen on her hip.
Our first, careful efforts to help her brought her so much pain that we all agreed we needed to leave her where she was and get some medical help. We found her husband inside, who called an ambulance and then scurried around to prepare to go with her to the hospital.
We stayed with Cindy for several minutes, comforting her until the ambulance arrived, and then assured both of them of our prayers. As she was rolled into the back of the ambulance, Cindy raised her hand once again, and softly said, “Thank you for seeing me and for coming to help. If you hadn’t, I think I would still be there.”
It has occurred to me many times since that day how unusual and providential it was that we were even in a position to help Cindy. Like so many, we seem to be backyard deck people more than front porch people.
And I have also been convicted how true that is spiritually, in our relationships with our neighbors. How many of the people we know are down and helpless, at the end of their ropes spiritually, and quietly waving one last hand in hope of help? Are we even in a position to see them? Or are we comfortable in our own backyards?
Many of the people we know who have deep spiritual needs don’t even know what or Who they need. Cindy didn’t. She just suddenly knew she was helpless. But because we were in that rare position to see her fall, we were able to play a small role in getting her the help needed.
This summer, let’s all spend more time on the front porch. Let’s look for the frail waves of the people around us. And let’s help them call on the One who can meet them right where they are. We may see their soft wave of gratitude in eternity.
Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association.