Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. Jer. 1:5
When I was a little girl, I loved to stay with my grandmother in her little country town in the great state of Texas. Mama's home was filled with beautiful things...sometimes mysterious, very often “untouchable” things. Things like the hand carved cuckoo clock my uncle--- the WWII sailor--- brought her from some exotic location. Things like a little plastic woodpecker that danced around when you pressed the bottom of the pedestal on which he stood. Things like her trunk that sat at the end of her bed and contained a magical bounty of old magazines, letters wrapped in ribbon, Bibles, tintype photographs, eye glasses, sweet smelling talcum powder… and mothballs. Things like pretty glass bottles that had once contained something boring like cooking oil, but were now filled with brightly colored water and placed on this dresser or that end table.
The one item in her home that always drew me to it, and was always very ‘touchable’, was Mama’s button box.
It was wooden and round and was filled with hundreds of buttons that I would sort by color, or size, or simply in stacks of the ones I liked and the ones I didn’t. The contents of the button box changed with each visit. Every time Mama would cut up an outgrown or worn out article of clothing for quilting squares, she’d cut off the buttons and add them to the box. Or, if she made a new dress, she would toss in any extra buttons from the button card she’d purchased at the dry goods store. Sometimes, she’d sit with me as I explored the buttons. She’d pick up one, rub it tenderly and say with a smile, “Oh, I forgot all about that button! That came off of a school dress I made for your mother when she was your age!” Or, she might say with a tear, “That button was sewn onto your granddaddy’s work shirt. Lord knows how many times I had to wash that shirt of his.” Her eyes would sparkle as she turned a tear into a smile, and tenderly placed the button back into the box.
There were so many buttons. But, I had a favorite.
To this day, I can vividly see in my mind the small, round, pink cut-glass button with the pearl accent right in the middle. Oh, how it sparkled. Sometimes I would hold it up to the lamp and watch it shine. Other times I would take it to the ‘picture window’ in her living room and watch it sparkle in the sunlight. Sometimes, I would hold it tightly in my hands, close my eyes, and imagine that it had dropped off a princess’s gown and somehow made it into my Mama’s button box… in her little country home… in her little country town. Every time I ran my fingers through the buttons in the box, I searched for another like it. But, there was only one. It was special, unique and---for the purposes of the button box---one of a kind. It was a treasure.
That button box reminds me of us and of our relationship with God.
Like the mismatched buttons in the box, we are all individual parts that make up a large community. Some of us may be sparkly; some of us may be sturdy; some of us may be small and some of us—not so much; some of us may look alike; some of us may look very different from each other; but we are all special and one of a kind. Like my grandmother, God can look into His human button box, pick us up, and remember exactly when we came to Him. He knows everything about us, and like that sparkly pink button was to me, each of us is a treasure to Him. He said so in Isaiah 49:16. “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” Like the buttons I held, YOU are held tightly in God’s hand, in more ways than one.
Sometimes, like the buttons in the box, we may feel like we are just part of the crowd. No special purpose, nothing unique about us, we are just "here." But, that’s not true.
We never know when the day will come that someone will be looking for a "button" that looks just like us! We never know when the opportunity will come for us to jog someone’s memory of a happy time, or share our own memories of loved ones and fun days gone by. We never know when we’ll have the opportunity to make someone’s eyes sparkle by sharing our faith. We never know when we will have the opportunity to lead someone else to God, and to their place in His spiritual button box. Colossians 4:5 tells us to "make the most of every opportunity."
I’ve have my own button box collection. It’s pitifully small compared to Mama’s. But, one day, I hope it will be a larger collection and that my grandchildren will put down their fancy toys, computers, telephones—and whatever else they’ve come up with by then-- and enjoy rummaging through my button box. I hope that the experience will teach them that, like those buttons, they are special... not just to their grandmother, but to the God of all creation. The God who made them… and you.. and who keeps you in His heart and in His hands.