This story almost seems too ridiculous to post.
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 …