Private Moments in Public

The first time it came over me, I didn’t know what to do.

It was in a church service that wasn’t very different from every other church service I’d attended in weeks prior. I don’t remember what was sung or said from up front–in fact I’m not even sure that words were a trigger. It was as if the door to the outside was pushed open by the wind and something swept in and through the room, taking me with it as it blew in leaves and mulch.

And I was down for the count.

I wept hard. I cried deep, from the bowels of my being, tears that wouldn’t stop. They brought me first to my seat and then to my knees. Thank God I was in the back of the room.

I wish I could say I was oblivious to the events around me, lost in the moment God had for me. For the most part I was, but my own self-consciousness didn’t get turned off with this rush of emotion. I was crying messy, snotty, tears that my hands cupped over my mouth couldn’t quiet. While I didn’t see them, I knew that this, um, “unusual” behavior was drawing looks from those in the back of the room close enough to hear it.

My embarrassment, though, was not enough to stifle the waves crashing over my head and through my body. He gave me enough sense to know that I was on Holy Ground. All those weeks and months leading up to this day where I’d prayed, “God, what is on your heart?  I want to carry Your heart. I want to be acquainted with Your heart” had poured water on the dam that was now breaking … in public and not in the privacy of my own home like I might have wished.

Ugh. But I couldn’t help it.

My weeping continued through the rest of the service. An older woman I knew (but not well)  slipped me her phone number and whispered in my ear “if there’s anything you want to talk about, please call me.” OF COURSE my emotional stability had been called into question. What else could possibly provoke these kind of tears?

I couldn’t have expected anyone to understand. I didn’t understand. This wasn’t about my personal struggles, my marriage or a bad day. This wasn’t an emotional breakdown or anxiety attack.

This was the first of what has since become many times where He allowed me to be acquainted with His heart. And that little drop of water that slipped from His hand down through the divide between holy and human became a waterfall of tears.

The tears that kept coming and coming that night were like a window into the depths of emotions of God’s heart. His love, His devotion to those He made, His response to the brokenness in the world and for a people not ready for their coming King. Our frame can’t hold it.

But sometimes He lets us in … a little. Sometimes He shares the burden of His heart with His people. And I consider myself privileged that He would choose to overlook the million reasons why I’m unworthy of being a burden-bearer with Him, and drip. Drip. Drip. Onto my unprepared heart.

I later learned this was Biblical. But what I’d been familiarized with in the Bible wasn’t something I expected to interrupt my life, my day, my very “normal” church experience.

My tears, whether for His unprepared bride, those who don’t know Him, the orphans of the earth or my own, at-times-obstinate heart are a seed. My snotty, mascara-stained tears are a ministry to Him. And the Bible tells me they will produce a harvest.

So sometimes I pray that prayer again and ask for more (and put in a special request that they might come in the privacy of my own home when no one is around).

He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves
with him. Psalm 126:6

My tears, by definition, can’t speak words. But maybe that’s even more reason why this form of prayer is impregnated with life.