A Silly Story About a Coke Bottle

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Kids enjoying first taste of ice cream

This story almost seems too ridiculous to post.

*Almost*

2011 was a wonderful year for our family. We were blessed (in so many ways) beyond expectations and beyond measure.

We’ve always wanted to share our blessings with the community so that we can be living examples of why the city should rejoice when the righteous proper.

When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy. Proverbs 11:10 (NIV)

As a result, we decided to host a New Years party and invite all the church members to join us.

We wanted it to be a feast that people wouldn’t forget. My wife and I spent two days cooking. We cooked sausages and chicken. We bought Coke and ice cream. We had so much food that everyone got to go for seconds and thirds, and we even had to send everyone home with a plate of food.

We even had some kids (6 year olds) who had never eaten ice cream before!

At the end of the party, one man said that his favorite part of the party was ice cream, Coke, and chocolate cake. Those are all things that are definitely a luxury here.

It was so much fun.

Now, it’s time for the silly Coke bottle story.

When we were finishing up everything, one lady asked for an empty Coke bottle so she could take cold water home with her. (Even cold water is a nice treat in the village areas.) I got a bottle and filled it from the cold water cooler. A second lady asked for a Coke bottle with water. I gave her one as well.

Then a third person asked for a Coke bottle with cold water. I went upstairs and I could only find one last Coke bottle.

This is the silly part.

I felt really protective of that Coke bottle! It was Saturday night, and on Sunday morning we go to church. (I hope that doesn’t surprise you.) Where we worship doesn’t have any public sources of clean water, so we always take a bottle of cold water with us. However, I knew that if I gave away this Coke bottle, we wouldn’t be able to take water.

That’s when it struck me. All of the food and all of the time preparing was convenient for me to give. It was giving according to my terms and conditions. Essentially, it wasn’t sacrificial because I got to choose what and when to give. I planned the party so that when everything was done, I’d still have all I wanted.

But, this Coke bottle was something I really wanted to have. Since I preach on Sundays, I often need water to keep me hydrated and clear my throat.

I didn’t want to part with the bottle. I know that’s silly. It’s a reminder of how much work God needs to do on my heart.

Since I knew I was attached to the bottle, I knew I had to give it away. Despite the hundreds of dollars I spent that night, the hardest thing I did was to give away an empty Coke bottle.

I remember thinking that if God wants me to go a Sunday without a bottle of water, then so be it … not my will.

After the party, I drove folks home. When I dropped off the last person, I looked between the seats, and guess what I found … an empty Coke bottle.

It was like manna from heaven.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into this little story, but I think God was reminding me that it’s OK to give up precious things because he’ll still take care of us.

It seems like there might be a Bible verse about that somewhere …

Comments

  1. says

    I don’t think you were reading too much into it, Craig. This was a great reflection! It’s right on track with the things Jesus was trying to get us to realize in Matthew 6:19-34. Thanks for sharing it!

  2. Alice says

    “Perhaps I’m reading too much into this little story..”

    I don’t think so. I think it’s amazing that you’re able to hear when God speaks to you. Even if it is ‘just’ through an issue with a Coke bottle. It sort of sounds like you are apologizing for giving credit to God for such a teachable moment. Never apologize.

  3. Eric Charnesky says

    “Since I knew I was attached to the bottle, I knew I had to give it away.” That’s a lesson we all need to learn.

  4. says

    As a 20 year veteran missionary, my experience is that I only regret not giving enough, I don’t regret any thing/time/resource I gave away. Even if you had not found the extra empty coke bottle, I think it would have been the right thing to do and that God would have provided for you in another way.

    BTW, I enjoy your blog but I think this is the first time I’ve left a comment.

    • says

      Brenda,

      Thanks for commenting.

      I didn’t mean to say that I regretted giving the bottle. I don’t. I was, however, highlighting the fact that my heart can still be hard as a rock when it comes to giving. God’s still working on me.

    • says

      Forest,
      The only problem was the Sunday was a holiday and nothing in town was open. I had thought of the option. I do agree that it was best for me to give it away.

      • says

        Ahh of course… I often forget that places close on Sunday in certain parts of the world. In Egypt although a lot was closed on Friday it was also a big business day for street venders and stores because a lot of people were off to the Mosques and Churches, so we never had an issue about getting hold of things whenever we needed them.

  5. JD says

    Really enjoy your sharing of so much that is happening in your lives and others. Do tell, what did the children think of the ice cream for the first time?

    • says

      They loved it.
      Actually, the mom told me on the way home that people in the village try to avoid giving their kids ice cream because once they’ve tasted it they always ask for it when they get into town.

  6. says

    Hi, Craig, I came across MH4C in September 2011 while searching for Christian advices on debt-free Christian living, and I read as much article as I could (internet access is poor here) whenever possible. I am blessed everytime I read your articles, and read the comments and discussions. Here in Saudi Arabia where I am currently employed since 2006, Christian worship is not acceptable. I worship with few true Christians ‘underground’, that reading your articles and the comments and discussions is just like participating in a Sunday School. This is my first time to comment. The ‘coke bottle story’ is a multi-faceted message from God. Many times is our missionary work, we are faced with situations where unconsciously we withhold the things we value and freely give the things we have easy access to. The things we value most are often the things the Lord would love for us to share with the needy. Thanks for sharing. I learned many lessons which could not be expressed in words….

    • says

      Chon,
      Thanks so much for your comment. I’m glad to know that in Saudia Arabia your able to follow the information on this blog.
      I appreciate your encouraging words.

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