Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is to leave a light on.

My little brother David, and my sister-in-law live in the small town where I grew up.  Their home is a turn-of-the-century house with a wonderful front porch – swing and all.


My brother loved investing in others, especially teens. During her high school years, David built a relationship with Sada.

Sada was not going through a typical teen rebellion. A brilliant, reflective soul, she was struggling with deep issues of justice, truth, and grace. Sada was an extraordinary girl with an equally exceptional brain and giant heart. She needed a safe place to examine issues of her heart and soul, darkness and light.

David was the gracious listening ear, the non-anxious presence, the safe house. He told her that he would always leave the porch light on and the door would always be open. Any time she needed a place, she was welcome.


That porch light was a guidepost…a reminder that she was seen, listened to, understood, and through it all, still very loved and cherished.

She was welcome anytime.

She could be herself.

She could be someone different than was expected.

No matter what, she had a friend who was there for her.

Sada took David up on his offer sometimes, but she told me that there were many late nights (or early mornings) when she would just drive by to check and see if the porch light was on.

It always was.

Dave modeled God’s love for Sada and she flocked to it like a moth to a porch light. The light on their porch punched a hole in the dark world outside.

Sada recently wrote me:

Dave and Susan’s simple, constant gesture was a strong influence.

I don’t know anyone who has been transformed by love withheld, only by love extended.

The porch light was a reminder that forgiveness and acceptance was available no matter what had happened in the night.

 It reminded me that I belonged somewhere, even when I wasn’t ready to come home. Its warm glow was persuasive comfort. 
When David came home to hospice, Sada came home too and sat on that front porch praying, grieving for my brother who had been part of a community helping her follow Jesus.
Almost twenty years later, I have my own front porch. It’s my favorite part of the house, and you’ll find the light on.

Who are you leaving a light on for?