A handful of busy moms, plenty of young boys - occasionally one daughter -, and Romans 8; that describes Tuesday afternoons for a group of young moms and me. Between naps and school pick-ups, we squeeze in some much-needed fellowship and encouragement from what has been named The Greatest Chapter in the Bible.
If you were to read some of our text messages or group emails, you might notice a reference to an Ugly Porch. You might even hear us discuss this Porch as you walk by us in the church foyer. I’ll grant you that, without an explanation, this comment can be confusing and rather odd. With certainty, I can assure you that our sharing time has never included a complaint about one’s actual entryway!
So, what is this about? It may not sound very spiritual, and yet, this reference comes loaded with deep truths. Well-chosen illustrations have the ability to bring clarity and understanding to difficult concepts or serve as reminders to great realities. They often paint a picture. One or two words, and the whole idea springs to mind.
That is exactly what “The Ugly Porch” illustration does for me, and I hope for the other moms as well. Two descriptive words that create a clear picture, point to a biblical truth, and, as a result, bring steadfast hope.
Let me back up and explain. Romans 8 is indeed filled with many glorious truths. These include:
Our Right Standing before God (vs 1)
Life in the Spirit (1-11)
Adoption into the Family of God (14-17)
The Holy Spirit’s and Christ’s Intercession on our Behalf (26-27, 34)
Salvation from Eternity Past to Eternity Future (29-30)
Unshakeable Hope and Future Glory (18-39)
A Promise for our Good: Our Conformity with Christ (28) (Possibly the most often-quoted promise of all Scripture)
The Father’s never-failing love for us (34-35)
So many promises, but, interwoven throughout, are references to pain and brokenness. As we have progressed through this passage, we have discovered that Paul also addresses the issue of suffering in this chapter. He tells us to actually expect heartache while in this life (18-25, 35-36). There is no need to convince anyone in our group that life can be ugly. So, these verses are invaluable in teaching us how to handle the inevitable trials. Basically, the great truth to hold onto is that these “sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us.” The anticipation of all that is yet to come brings hope, a glorious unshakeable hope. Glory awaits.
How do we remember Paul’s admonition to keep our eyes on the glorious future that awaits those who are in Christ? How do we remember that THIS is but for a short time? How do we encourage each other without reciting a whole section of Romans 8? Two words are all we need: Ugly Porch.
Here is a quote by a British preacher named Stuart Oylott who was born in 1942 and who has ministered for decades throughout the UK and Europe: “Our Present Sufferings are like an ugly porch which leads to the threshold of an unspeakably beautiful mansion.”
Short and yet, so descriptive. The ugly will not last. Unspeakable beauty is coming. Look up, sisters!
So, if you hear us mentioning that we are standing on the ugly porch, we are not complaining about husbands not having fixed the entrance to our homes. Neither are we confused about where we are standing at the moment. We are simply acknowledging that life is messy and encouraging one another. It is not said flippantly, but with the hope that it will cause us to rehearse in our minds the promises of Romans 8.
I hear those words, and hope floods my mind, strengthens my resolve, and causes my eyes to look to the One who is Glorious.
Who encourages you? Who do you exhort? What “odd” reference do you quote? What causes you to look to Him with steadfast hope? Let’s not stand alone on the ugly porch of this present life.