My wife loves to go antiquing. Whenever we’re on a trip somewhere, and we’ve got some extra time, she loves to search out antique stores and spend time looking at old treasures. She loves walking up and down aisles of oak furniture, knick-knacks, kitchen gadgets and utensils. She doesn’t always buy stuff. In fact, most of the time, she’s just ‘looking.’ But occasionally, she’ll spy something she’s been looking for, or collecting. In our bathrooms, for example, she’s decorated some of the shelves with old medicine packages, long-since emptied of the remedies that people used to buy to help them with the corns on their feet, or the aches and pains of managing lumbago. Maybe it’s a soap wrapper, or a hair tonic box, or some household product that’s got a unique name, like ‘Carter’s Little Liver Pills.’
She loves old bottles, too. Any kind of bottle, really. But especially milk bottles. We’ve got several old milk bottles in our kitchen at home that she’s gathered over the years. Of course, today, our milk comes in disposable plastic jugs or cardboard containers that we throw away when empty. But there was a time when a milk delivery truck would drive through neighborhoods delivering milk and other dairy products door-to-door. Milk bottles were used over and over. On the day the milk-man made his deliveries of milk, on the porch of many homes, empty milk bottles sat waiting to be picked up. Every week, empty milk bottles were exchanged for full ones. We don’t do that, anymore, of course. Times have changed. Life is different. But noticing how things used to be can bring fond memories, sometimes. Maybe that’s why my wife loves to go antiquing.
I sat looking at some of those old milk bottles we have in our kitchen the other day, and I wondered: If they could talk? If they could tell me stories about the towns they’ve been in, the neighborhoods where they were delivered? I wonder what kinds of interesting things I would hear? Who were the families that drank the milk they contained? Where are the boys and girls who poured milk from those bottles into bowls of Kellog’s corn flakes, or Sugar Pops? Where are those boys and girls now? Grown, of course. Many of them probably not even alive. But the other day, as I sat noticing my wife’s collection, I wondered what stories I might hear, if those old milk bottles could talk? What secrets they might disclose about lives and life as it used to be. Wouldn’t it be great if a milk bottle could talk.
Well maybe it would be great. Everyone likes a happy ending or a nostalgic story. But what about the painful parts of the story they might tell? What about the real episodes of life. “Father Knows Best’ was fun to watch on television. But what about real life, when father didn’t act like he knew what was best. In fact, father didn’t do the right thing at all. What if there were days when the milk bottle that sat on the front porch may have been empty, but the house behind the front door was filled with sadness and tears.
Everybody knows, of course, that a milk bottle can’t talk. A milk bottle can’t remember stories about the way things used to be. But that doesn’t mean bottles have no use, when it comes to remembering life as we’ve lived it, and the things that have happened that we struggled with, the emptiness we can feel. God knows. God remembers. God who is eternal understands.
That must be why the psalmist asked the God who never forgets to remember. Ps. 56:8 says, “You have taken account of my miseries; Put my tears in Your bottle ….” God still makes house calls, friend. When you ask Him … He ‘ll take your emptiness and fill it with his amazing grace and love. Not some old or antiquated remedy. But fresh and delivered personally to the doorstep of your life.