Collecting things is something everyone does. Some collect teacups, others collect sports cards, while others may even collect stamps.
Collections represent more than just a group of things that we like. A set of dishes may not be much to someone, but to the one that holds them in their hands, it represents something beautiful, rare, and precious.
I have a collection of crystals that Peter started for me on our honeymoon.
(I realize this is blurry, but like I have said before, technology is not my friend.)
He had flown into town from Germany for only 5 days so that we could get married. Now, I want to preface this with the statement that my husband is an AMAZING gift giver. He knows how to up it every year and give me something that oohs and aahs every time.
The night of our wedding, we drove to our hotel, unloaded the car, and settled into our room. My brain was in hyper mode and I had so many thoughts and feelings going through my head. But as I looked at Peter, he was calm, like usual, and held a box in his hands. Inside the beautiful, handcrafted box was an assortment of radiant gifts. Some made me tear up, some made me laugh, and some were so lovely I could never speak in words what they meant to me.
But among these gifts was an elegant crystal shaped as a dozen roses.
I had never received something so exquisite and stunning.
This was only the beginning.
Year after year, for every anniversary, Peter has gifted me a lovely crystal flower bouquet. It would be easier to pick all the flowers in the world than to pick a favorite.
He’s also gotten me crystals for every childbirth, deployment, move, and even Molly’s death.
I cherish this collection so much. It is precious to me. It will always be precious to me because it represents so many things.
“Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me. In God will I praise his word: in the Lord will I praise his word. In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.”~Psalm 56:8-11
God has his own collection in heaven. But unlike the crystals that will one day fade away, this beautiful collection is eternal.
For as long as I can remember, I have restrained myself from showing emotion in the form of tears. I don’t have an explanation right now for it, but it’s my truth. I struggle to cry. I push back constantly and suppress the sadness.
But God shows me that my tears are precious.
Why else would He put them in a bottle? Don’t we only store things of use? Do we only keep that which has a purpose?
Our tears are beautiful in the eyes of God. We need not hide them or be ashamed. If they are valued enough by God to be kept, then we can let them freely flow.
Like my crystals, these rare treasures represent so many things.
1. Where we have been
When I look at my crystal set, I see a move from Germany to Florida. I see a life being born. I see a soul leaving the earth. I see year after year of laughs, fights, make-ups, and trials.
God sees this too when he gazes upon our bottles.
I imagine Him pointing to my bottles and whispering to my heart,
“That bottle there was when you felt all alone after your first move away from family. Remember? Those tears fell, but like you, I caught them. I lifted them up and secured them. See that bottle there? That bottle holds the tears you shed when your first baby left your womb and entered into my arms. I hold that child and I hold those tears very close.”
2. The sacrifices that were made
It has not been an easy life, and I am sure so many of you can say the same. Heartache, trial, and loss are etched in the stain glass window of my life. The tears I have shed slowly wore away the grooves and divots. They are carving out a beautiful story that reflects what God has done and what He is still doing. God looks at the tears that fell as tools to mold who I am and draw me into Him.
3. The love that was given
I have no doubt that Peter loves me. He shows me every day through the leadership, tenderness, and strength he gives. But when I look at that stack of crystals, I can’t help but see an amplified version of his love for me.
Knowing that the Lord keeps my tears in a bottle for all of eternity fills my heart with a warmth that can never be matched.
Those tears were something. They mattered. They still matter. And more importantly, they matter to Him. He hurts with me. He goes down to the deep with me and is there. He rejoices with me when times are good. And he holds me when I can no longer go on. His love is so deep and so wide I don’t think I will ever be able to comprehend it.
But I don’t need to because today, all that counts is that as I continue to cry, he continues to collects and carry those tears that I have shed.
This is love.