step off the porch
“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 NIV
There have been stand out, bold-capital-letter defining moments in my life. Some I have recognized, even as they happened. But most were realized only by looking back years later.
Like one chilly night, sitting between my two older sisters, in the student lounge of Long Beach City College. At the ripe old age of 14, I heard the gospel for the first time. Do you want to give your life to Christ?
What did that even mean? What could it mean to a Junior High girl who just wanted to get the cute guy in history class to notice me? What did I know? But God was speaking through that preacher dude, calling me to follow Jesus Christ.
Definitely a world-shaking, life-changing, revolutionary moment. And I knew it. God. Loves. Me.
Another defining moment comes to mind. This one arrived without fanfare on an ordinary summer afternoon.
I was sweeping leaves off the porch of my old Victorian farmhouse while Christopher was napping. A tiny bird hopping across the lawn caught my eye. I know what you’re thinking. Really … a defining moment, Cathe? I know—but keep reading.
I leaned the broom against the screen door, stepped off the porch onto freshly mowed grass and inched my way toward the bird. He didn’t fly off…he cocked his head at me and hopped toward the sidewalk. Hop, hop—stop. As if he was enticing me to follow.
I looked up and saw a young woman with dark brown hair and deep-set eyes the color of violets, looking right at me. She pushed a tiny elf of a child in a stroller. A beautiful little girl about the same age as my son was by her side.
“Hi!” she said. “Hi,” I said.
No epiphany. No sign in the sky. No still small voice whispering your life is about to turn a big corner. Just an ordinary day, with a napping baby, a porch to sweep, a sparrow, and a simple encounter that started with a hello.
“Hey, aren’t you the pastor’s wife?”
“Yea, I am.” I walked over and peeked in the stroller. “She’s adorable. My name is Cathe, what’s yours?”
“I’m Karen, this is Ericka, and the baby is Lindsay. I thought I recognized you. We live up the street, on Pachappa Hill.”
We chatted a minute more and then she asked, “Would you like to come to my house for lunch sometime?”
“Uh…sure.” She seemed nice enough and I didn’t know any young moms in this old neighborhood.
A few days later, we had lunch. Her house was pretty, not fancy, but she had a gift for arranging simple things in a way that elevated everything in the room. Lunch was served on an old tea trolley. As I recall, it was Campbell’s Tomato Soup (she wasn’t the greatest cook) but the white porcelain tureen she served it in was gorgeous. She made it special.
But the bickering in the back yard between our kids the entire time was hard to ignore. We did our best to make some connection, but honestly, it left me exhausted. I left thinking she’s nice but this friendship won’t go anywhere…our kids can’t stand each other.
She was persistent. Those afternoon walks by my house developed into deeper conversations. Our Jesus stories had some similarities. One thing I knew pretty quickly, she loved Jesus and had a deep passion to grow spiritually. It made up for the ongoing feud between our kids. Then came the defining moment.
“Hey Cathe,” she said one day, “There’s nothing much going on for ladies in the church. You have a platform, so let’s use it to reach moms like you and me. You speak, and I’ll help you.”
I was terrified. Speak at an event? Hold a prayer meeting? Teach a Bible study? Me?
Someone has said that doing uncomfortable things is good; it’s weight training for the soul. I was uncomfortable to say the least. It felt like stepping out on a fragile limb. But it held.
Some defining moments come when we aren’t looking.
We were simple and available. Dependent on God and gutsy enough to step out and say, okay God, here I am. Send me.
When I think back, it’s pretty amazing. It all began with one step off the porch. One step just led to another and quietly, gradually, almost imperceptibly my life changed. Dramatically.
Along this journey into ministry, I’ve often wondered, how did I get here? Do I really belong? Have you ever felt that way? Can I just assure you, from this vantage point forty years later, that you won’t see the entire picture. None of us do. But we have light enough to take the next few steps, don’t we? Start right where you are and do the next thing. God knows how it will all unfold for you.
Recently a young friend and I were puzzling over how God can lead us, in spite of the missteps and mistakes of our lives. Something she said stuck with me. “If you think you’ve blown God’s plan for your life, rest in this: you, my darling girl, are not that powerful.” God’s good plan for you is not thwarted and He is still working in you!
Like Esther’s story, there may be no miracle, no vision, no prophetic word. Just an ordinary day, with an ordinary girl, doing ordinary things.
God reigns over the frequently ordinary days of our rarely extraordinary lives.
That’s been my experience. We are ordinary…and exceptional. Not because of who we are but because we’ve been lovingly chosen in Christ by an extraordinary God.
God has given you this one precious life. How will you spend it? He already knows what He has chosen to do through you. So, step off the porch into your beautiful and significant life.