For many years, a coke bottle from the 1998 Nagano Olympics sat on my mantle. In a curio cabinet I kept a bottle of water from the Jordan River. I didn’t keep these in my home because I was an avid bottle collector, nor for the value of the contents inside. I kept the bottles because of the memories associated with them.
A dear friend served at the Nagano Olympics and we were moved by the stories he shared. As a result, we were invited to work at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. The coke bottle was a reminder of a time when the nations came together in peace for a common cause. The bottle represented a time of joy and adventure in my life.
In 1999, I visited Israel and collected water from the Jordan River. I didn’t value this keepsake because the waters inside where miraculous, but as a reminder of the example Jesus gave when he told John the Baptist to baptize him in the Jordan. Jesus humbled himself in order to set an example for us of a surrendered life. The bottle reminded me to follow Christ’s lead and to humble myself daily.
Most of us don’t keep oodles and oodles of bottles around our home (unless you are a wine collector). We tend to hold on to things with sentimental value to remind us of special times. Psalm 56:8 tells us that God collects our tears in bottles. Why in the world would the God of the universe gather our tears in a bottle? I’m not sure, but I can’t help but wonder if its because he sees our pain and is moved to compassion. It is often in our pain that we draw the closest to him. Is it possible that our tears serve as a memorial of our pain?
God doesn’t need a reminder, but maybe we do. When we get to heaven, will we see these bottles and be moved by the knowledge that God not only saw our tears, but collected them? God wants to collect more than our tears. He beckons us to lay down our heavy load and to let him carry us through the trials.
When my daughter was little, I can remember wiping her tears and holding her close. There were times I couldn’t make her “boo boos” go away, but my presence seemed to calm her. God offers the same to us. He not only wipes away our tears, but he also gathers them in bottles and offers us his comforting presence.