Most summer days, you can find me rocking away on my front porch. I like to think of it as an investment in my sanity. Like many southern porches, ours displays an American flag gracefully flying in the wind with the same freedom its stars and stripes represent. High in the breeze, it’s the backdrop of my daydreams, my book binges, my evening porch-lit chats.
But since I seem to thrive on being different, something I love even more than watching Old Glory catch in the air is watching her shadow dance on the ground. Funny how small things come into view and leave you wondering how you ever missed them before. They’re forever on your radar, making their presence known. That’s how it is with me and these flag shadows.
I sit and watch the flag waving high atop my porch, quietly drawing attention to its purpose, and it occurs to me that, just like the flag, we create shadows when we rise up to our callings and humbly live out our passions. Even if we can’t see the fruit of it right now, each wobbly step we take in faith to do the thing God set in our spirits to do creates a shadow that marks the place for others. A shadow that gives sight to the unseen of our obedience.
The truth is, there’s a lot of blind faith in what we do — a lot of “unseen.” Much of the time, we’re stepping out in trust, hoping that what we have to offer resonates with others, but what we don’t often realize is that as we’re stepping out, we create shadows, reference points of hope, marked spaces that declare:
In this life, you can make a difference.
Simply showing up and planting our feet in the ground where we believe God wants us to be inspires others to show up too.
And, friends, it’s okay if we sometimes wonder whether what we’re doing even matters or if we aren’t sure we believe in ourselves as much as the God who called us does. Because here’s the thing: people are good at seeing others’ strengths and measuring them against their own weaknesses, so they don’t need to see our shiny. They’re not served by our waiting until we have it all figured out to show up. They need to see our humility as we tentatively take steps, creating shadows that look like hope.
Back in the day, Paul spoke a good word to Timothy, “Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received . . . throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress” (1 Timothy 4:14-15 NLT). Not your finished product, but your progress.
Here on the East Coast where I live, it’s been extra stormy lately, so we’ve temporarily taken our flag down a few times, lest a wind-blown flagpole impale itself through a window. (Seems like the right thing to do and all.) But those times when the flag isn’t out — guess what else is missing? Its shadow.
I’ve come to realize that a vital part of our faith is making a way for others to come up, for others to outpace us even. Empowering those who share our path feels sacred to me, because this path we’re on leads to the same place — clear to the heart of God. It’s the way of home and wholeness and restoration and life.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget we don’t need to be writing our eighth book or be on the highest rung of the corporate ladder or be the PTA Super-Mom in order to inspire and invest in others. Right where we are, at this exact moment in time, is where our difference is made. A difference-making life isn’t created from the abundance of success but from small moments of influence marked along the way.
So, on those days when what we have to offer feels small and we can’t fathom its impact, when we’re weary and don’t feel like showing up, take heart. It’s not our shiny, finished product that inspires others but our surrender in the middle of progress.Leave a Comment
Sarah Walker says
Thank you for this reminder. This was the message I really needed to hear this morning as I work towards what God is calling me to do even though I don’t see much fruit yet and it feels like treading through thick mud. I so need to remember the process and what God is doing in me and through me in this exact moment in time is valuable. As I plod through writing the book God has put on my heart even though I have no prior experience in that. And as I work each day at raising my two preschool-aged boys. The days can be hard, so thank you for the encouragement!!
Oh, Sarah, (((Hug)) — I hear your struggle, sister. ♥ Sweet Father, I lift up our sister Sarah to you today. Father, I pray you’ll give her strength for the calling you’ve set in her heart, and Lord, I pray you’ll bless her efforts with your favor. Please encourage her heart and honor her surrender with Your presence. Thank you, Jesus. — xoxo
Sarah Walker says
Thank you 🙂
Leslie Newman says
Brenda, this is beautiful! Your words were a blessing and encouragement to me today. I’ll be watching the shadow of my own flag that flies from my front porch and remember that right where I am at this exact time is where a difference is made. Thank you, Brenda.
Once you notice it, you’ll never be able to un-see that flag shadow, Leslie. 🙂 Thank you for sharing, friend. You’ve encouraged my heart this morning as well. ♥
Michele Morin says
Brenda, I’m just thrilled to find your words here today, and your message is one that I come back to all the time out of need (Read: take myself by the scruff of the neck and point my eyes at Truth!).
Thanks for this tiny visit on your front porch. I can hear the flag whipping in that East coast breeze.
I’m right there with ya, “taking myself by the scruff of the neck and pointing my eyes to Truth” as well, friend. It’s a day by day (minute by minute?) process, at times, isn’t it? Thankfully the Truth-Well never runs dry and He’s a patient God. Thanks for your faithful encouragement, friend. xoxo
Paris Renae says
Inspiring reminder – thanks for pointing to truth so that the shouts of the world can be shut out 🙂
“…so the shouts of the world can be shut out.” Amen, Paris. May He overwhelm us with His presence, shutting out all other voices. Praying that for us both today, friend. Thank you for sharing. ♥
Thank you for this.
(((Hug))) Praying He meets you in the process today with fresh hope, joy and energy, Courtney. God bless you, sister. ♥
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
So sorry I’m late to the party….flat on my back again 🙁 So, so good to be reading your lovely weaving of words here today!! Thank you for the much needed reminder that it’s not all about the finished project (oh how many unfinished projects I have), but it’s surrendering in the progress AND being willing to let others see your vulnerability as you keep stepping forward in the process. Beautiful my sweet friend!!
Oh no! So sorry to hear your back is getting worse. 🙁 Hope today is a better day than yesterday was. Praying for you, friend. Let me know if there’s anything I can do. xoxo
Melissa Henderson says
Brenda, I love this message. We don’t have to be the best at everything. We all have unique gifts from God. Sometimes, letting someone else say “yes” to an opportunity allows their flag to fly high instead of ours. 🙂
So true, Melissa. That feels like a ministry unto itself at times, ya know? Creating shadows of inspiration (even when we don’t feel inspirational at all!) so others can see the path more clearly themselves. We’re all just a part of the big plan God has already purposed. — Thanks for sharing, Melissa. 🙂
Lisa Appelo says
I always love your words, Brenda. They are soul soothing…we could have some wonderful talks in those front porch rockers! We have a front porch swing and it’s one of my favorite spots, too, especially when the sounds in the house need to continue but I want quiet. What a good reminder today to know God uses us as we progress in small steps.
Ooh, wouldn’t that be sweet? Would love to rock and chat with you on the porch, friend. And, a porch swing sounds wonderful! We always thought we’d put a swing up on the other end of our porch, but eight years later, we still haven’t. 🙂 Thanks for your encouragement today, Lisa. xoxo
Beth Williams says
People think they have to have to be the leader, or play a big role in order to make a difference for God. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:12 & 27 There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it. He states that each part of the body whether small or insignificant is important to the working of the body-the body of Christ. Leaders may lead, but they need worker bees to help get the job done. You may think that your offering is small, but put with others it makes the whole. God is pleased with any good & perfect offering we give Him. You hit nail on the head “Right where we are, at this exact moment in time, is where our difference is made.” Simply going to assisted living & seeing your aging dad & aid in his care, giving someone a hug, cooking meals, calling to check on people, sitting with elderly & chit chatting all of these are important. God & others see your little-showing up & doing.. Believe it or not you are making an impact. They are seeing the light & love of Christ shine through.
Great example from Paul, Beth. Thank you for sharing that. Paul had a lot of good thoughts on this topic, didn’t he? I wonder if, after his conversion, he saw all the distractions of glory for what they were, and had the wisdom to avoid them. When each of us does our part, we make it possible for the others to do their parts, and together we make Him known. And,every bit of the glory sits at His feet alone. 🙂 — Thanks for sharing today, Beth. 🙂
Oh, Brenda. I love your shadow, friend. Thank you for writing from your heart; a heart transformed by Christ. I stand encouraged 🙂
🙂 Thanks for encouraging my heart right back, Charla. xoxo
Linda Stoll says
So very good to spy you out and about today, friend …
And yes, yes to any and all things porch-related.
Haha, there’s just something comforting and cozy about porch-life isn’t there? Thanks for reading, friend. xoxo
What a beautiful post and a great reminder. There is nothing like sitting on a porch watching the world pass by.
It’s a peaceful place to be, isn’t it, Victoria. 🙂 Thanks for sharing. — P.S.) Love your cute flower avatar. 🙂
I love this message! Thank you!
♥ Thank you for reading, Ashley. God bless you, sister.
And God bless you too.
OH, friend… I know I’m a little late to the party here, but these words were right on time! This is beautiful and necessary encouragement to me today! So glad God has been bringing you to mind these past few days! Blessings, friend!
Yvonne Chase says
This is SO good. It really spoke to me, especially this verse:
“Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received . . . throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress” (1 Timothy 4:14-15 NLT). Not your finished product, but your progress.
Reminder to keep my eyes focused on progress not finished product.