“You have taken account of my wanderings. Put my tears in your bottle—are they not in your book?”
Did you know that God has a bottle? A bottle for our tears?
In ancient times in the Near East, mourners would show their love and respect for the departed by filling small glass bottles with their tears and leaving them behind in the tomb. I wonder what God’s bottle looks like. It must be special, indeed, to hold the tears of the world.
Tears, of course, are not just for funerals. I remember the story of the street preacher in a rough-and-tumble section of the Bowery in Lower Manhattan. He had formerly been an alcoholic and vagrant until he gave his life to Christ and cleaned up his act. Following his conversion, he began a ministry to outcasts like himself—Bowery bums caught up in one sin or another. The story goes that he never preached a sermon without crying profusely and was responsible for winning many souls to Christ.
This did not sit altogether well with the established church in that part of New York. While pleased with the former drunk’s success at preaching, many were aghast at his incessant weeping. The story goes that one day several of the church higher-ups had a talk with the Bowery Preacher, urging him to show proper restraint as befits a minister of the gospel. Wanting to please, the preacher did all in his power to curb his emotions… and his tears.
Then a curious thing happened. As the Bowery Preacher made steady progress eliminating his crying, he began seeing smaller and smaller crowds and fewer and fewer converts. And then he realized that maybe, just maybe, his free-flowing tears were meant to be part of the message. He prayed about it, the tears started up again, and down-and-outers in the Bowery began to repent and give their lives to Christ.
Personally, I have never been a stranger to tears. I think it’s a characteristic I inherited from my mother, who had the facility of crying at the drop of a hat. Why react to something with a nod, or a shrug of the shoulders, when you can shed real, hot tears? As I got on in life, and experienced the ugliness of the world, I reacted increasingly, instinctively perhaps, by crying. It became a predictable and embarrassing M.O. which I couldn’t shake.
My conversion to Christ at the age of 29 seemed to make matters worse. I cried even more easily than before… over anything and everything it seemed. Called upon to preach in churches around the world, and often speak to groups of people, including on film sets, I often struggled to get the words out because I was too busy choking back the tears. Many times, I have prayed—usually to no avail—for God to keep me from crying before addressing a group of people.
I don’t make that prayer so often today. I’ve made peace with the tears. If they flow unbidden, I tend to let them go.
At the same time, I don’t think God ever intended for our tears to last long. “He doesn’t willingly afflict the children of men” (Lamentations 3:33). He speaks comfort to his people, too. And the tears we shed here on earth must be special to him; they must have meaning; else why would he store them up? I wonder… Do they age over time like a good wine? Are they being held back for that future time when the Bible tells us we will experience God wiping tears from our eyes as a new day dawns and the old order of things passes away (Revelation 21:4)?
Now, please make a note, a big note. The movie that has taken us some three years to produce—Let Me Have my Son—is set to have its worldwide premiere on May 24 as a Virtual Cinema Event. You can pre-buy your tickets now! Go to tickets.letmehavemyson.com to show your support. And take note: you can watch the film from anywhere in the world! In addition to English, the movie is available in Spanish and Portuguese as well as several subtitled versions in other languages.
Fair warning! There will be a good bit of crying in the movie. It’s part of the real story. Who knows? Maybe those “cinematic” tears will serve a purpose akin to the weeping of the Bowery Preacher. Maybe they will unstop some area of your own life, and the lives of others, and release a cleansing flood as in the old Methodist hymn:
There is a fountain filled with blood
drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
and sinners plunged beneath that flood
lose all their guilty stains.
“See” you on May 24. Go to tickets.letmehavemyson.com. and buy your tickets today. Spread the news far and wide and invite others to watch! I just wish the Bowery Boys could be there…