January 5, 2018
"What'd you do at recess today?" I asked my 7-year-old, Magdalene, as we lingered with ice cream cones on the back deck at the end of a hot school day.
My daughter licked a chocolate drizzle from her lips and closed her eyes as if the answer to my question might be painted across the back of her eyelids. She paused for a moment; her cone dangling drippy in mid-air as she gathered her thoughts. Then a toothless grin spread across her face. Her eyes popped open in sync with her smile. "I played a game on the monkey bars,” she said. “And kept an eye on the buddy bench, of course.”
It may not be a timeless staple like the chain-link swings or the classic monkey bars, but the buddy bench is my favorite feature on my daughter’s elementary school playground.
A simple wooden seat planted on the edge of the kid-filled chaos, the buddy bench is a silent summons to be seen instead of overlooked, fortified instead of forgotten,loved instead of lonely.
When a child needs a friend, she sits on the buddy bench. When a child feels left out or left behind, he sits on the buddy bench. When a child longs for a helping hand, a listening ear, an empathetic soul, she sits on the buddy bench.
This precious playground seat carries no stigma nor shame; it merely issues an unspoken invitation:
Will you join me in my time of need?
It’s a question we’ve all asked, isn’t it?
When the discouragement looms large or sadness swells sore, we wonder —
Who will offer hope in our hopelessness?
Who will extend mercy in our mess?
Who will proffer prayer in our pain?
That little buddy bench paints such a poignant picture of childlike friendship that the first time my daughter told me about it, I swallowed down a lump of tears and swiped at a few drizzles of sadness that zig-zagged down my cheeks.
Maybe it was because I was stumbling through a wearisome wilderness of my own, and I longed for a friend to share my steps. Or maybe it was because sometimes, it feels like no one notices my silent struggles. But for whatever reason, on that particular day, I returned my daughter’s smile through a haze of hot tears and whispered, “I wish I had a buddy bench, too.”
Later that evening, as I opened my Bible to the book of Hebrews, God reminded me He’s already granted my wish. I may not have the perfect pal planted on a wooden bench outside of my window, but I have a Faithful Friend seated on Heaven’s throne (Hebrews 12:2). And thanks to Christ’s accomplished work on the cross, I’m invited to sidle up to Him in prayer and find help in my time of need. And so are you!
Hebrews 4:16 puts it like this —
“So … come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
In elementary playground lingo, that sounds like an invitation to Heaven’s Buddy Bench!
So, next time there’s no one to sit with us in our struggles, let’s seek our Savior who stands in the gap. And with childlike faith, let’s ask Him the question that’s burning on our hearts: Will You join me in my time of need?
And I’m guessing that when we lean in and listen, we’ll hear Jesus say, “I’ve been here all along.”
Dear God, thanks for never leaving me in my time of need. Open the eyes of my heart to see You even when it seems like no one sees me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Hebrews 13:5b, “I will never leave you; I will always be by your side.” (VOICE)
How do I live in God's love when I don't feel loved? Our next Online Bible Study is I Am Loved: Walking in the Fullness of God's Love by Proverbs 31 author Wendy Blight. Wendy wrote this in-depth study of the book of 1 John for every woman who craves to truly understand, walk confidently in and live out God’s unconditional, extravagant, lavish love … because His love truly changes everything! All of our studies are free to join — click here for more information.
For more encouragement and a chance to win a resource to help you “approach the buddy bench” in prayer, join Alicia Bruxvoort at her blog today.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Where do you usually turn when you have a need? This week, take a seat on Heaven’s buddy bench. Talk to Jesus in prayer, and carve out some time to read your Bible and listen for what He wants to say to you, too.
Ask the Lord to show you someone in your life who needs a friend “to sit with her on the buddy bench.” Find a way to let that person know that you see her need and you’re praying for her.
© 2018 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.