I leave the conversation because my heart is breaking. My face is burning and pulsing, clear signals that my blood pressure is high. I am past the emotion of crying and have been catapulted into the screaming dimension. The hysterical screaming dimension.
I turn away and climb sixteen steps. Enter the door on the right. Climb over the teetering stack of books and magazines. I have to turn sideways to fit by the dresser with the three out of five broken drawers. And there it is, tucked into my closet: the weeping bench.
The Weeping Bench
It’s an old wooden trunk that was cast out as garbage. Nails protruding and broken hinges that make the top all wonky when it’s opened. It’s filled with junk and unwanted things like ripped sheets, single socks, worn and ripped clothes. I never open it. Yet it is a holier vessel than it looks.
I kneel at this altar of incense, the place where my guttural and emotional cries spill out of me and rise to a Holy God in the form of a prayer. I stay until I am done, not rushing the process. The world is tuned out. Physical needs go unmet until I can deal with spiritual needs. The children’s need for bread alone is not greater than my need for the Bread of Life. There is no mommy guilt in this place. I have chosen the better and I know they will reap the benefit of my time at the weeping bench.
I say awful things. Disgusting things. Heartfelt things. Words that are pouring from the heart, just like the Lord said, revealing my condition. I speak these words, as vile as they may be, I speak them without guilt or shame because I speak them to God.
My tears have a voice.
This Father lets me bring Him my ugliness, and I stay until it is beautiful. I show Him my coldness and my hurt, the wall I am erecting. I allow Him to see my heart and the pain I hold in it. And the weeping bench becomes a place of holiness and peace. He offers me every healing, not just to me, but to everyone outside the door waiting for their bread.
“Sometimes a penitent man’s eyes will in some way tell what his tongue can in no way utter. Many times the penitent is better at weeping, than he is at speaking. Tears have a voice, and are very prevalent orators with God. Penitential tears are undeniable ambassadors, and they never return from the throne of grace without an answer of grace.
“Tears are a kind of silent prayers, which though they say nothing—yet they obtain pardon; they prevail for mercy, as you may see in that great and clear instance of Peter. He said nothing, he confessed nothing that we read of—but ‘went out and wept bitterly’—and obtained mercy.”(Thomas Brooks)
This bench stayed my closet for 13 years. To think that every tear cried at this altar has been captured and cared for, bottled and kept in heaven moves my mended heart. I am a healed and healthy woman thanks to the time spent at this place.
Now the weeping bench is downstairs in the library. The bench looks exactly the same, but there are a few differences. The weeping bench is opened weekly and inside the still broken hinged top you will find five baby dolls, building blocks, hundreds of cars, bags of Polly Pocket dolls and clothes, carousels, doll houses, car villages and tracks.
I’ve set tea trays down on this bench to serve saints of God. I’ve sat my laptop on it as I wrote words from the heart with the purpose of edification and encouragement to those in wilderness journeys. This bench has come a long way and served many purposes. Isn’t it beautiful?
The Prayer Closet
The prayer closet is no mere suggestion, my friends. The work of God done on your heart in this sacred place, with or without a bench, has rewards and sometimes you actually get to see those rewards in a visible and clear manor.
That bench was God’s tool to sustaining a family Satan didn’t want to work out. Evidence of God’s miraculous ways is evident by the contents it now holds.
Can you believe God enough to take to Him your heart? Can you trust Him to show Him what He already knows, but you need to work out?
God is wondrous at taking broken things, hearing broken cries, from broken places and transforming them into vessels of grace.
Where you kneel today will reveal grace tomorrow.
Stay at your bench long enough to soften. I promise you the children will be fine. Their fretting and hunger can be dealt with better by your time here with your Father.
Everyone thinks it’s just an old broken bench. But you and I know it is much more than that, don’t we? It was and has always been an altar to God. In the bad times, it was an altar where I met Him, offering prayers like the priests offered incense. In the good times, it holds objects of fun for darling grandchildren who are gifts and strength to this family. It is an altar of testimony to the magnificent grace of God.
Satan meant to break me and mine, but God, as always, in His Providence, purified and bonded our family at the weeping bench.
Go, now, dear momma — weep at your bench if you must. I testify that He will hear you and turn that weeping into joy.