A Greed of Glasses

Mar 19, 2010

On Tuesday, my husband and I jumped in the car at 8PM and drove four hours en route to participate in a Lenten preaching series two states away the next day. Andy was preaching at noon; I was presenting a mini Praying in Color® workshop in the evening. We packed the car with clothes, sermon, book on tape, read-aloud material, laptop, markers—and, of course, the spare pair of reading glasses and sunglasses. Losing glasses throughout the house, the car, and the whole USA is an unfavorite pastime, so I often grab an extra pair on the way out the door.

Andy drove the first few hours. I navigated in the dark and read aloud from a book we had started earlier in the week. For a little extra entertainment, I rooted through the glove compartment and the various cubbyholes in the car.  And in my rooting, I made an embarrassing discovery: 10 pairs of glasses—4 sunglasses, 4 readers, and 2 pairs of progressives—all mine.

Call me ditzy, if you will. But it felt worse than ditzy. It felt wasteful, even greedy. It made me realize I have spares of lots of things, almost everything. There are the spare sets of sheets, towels, hairbrushes, black socks. You name it: spare paper, spare dishes, spare car, spare weight. Not to mention the spares of spare shoes. I keep complaining about owning too much, but then tend to buy spares, just in case I might need them.

In Mark 6:8-9, Jesus spoke to his disciples: “These were his instructions: ‘Take nothing for the journey except a staff–no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic.'” (NIV) When Jesus went on a preaching mission he did not turn his Toyota into a mini apartment with clothing and toys for every eventuality.

The irony of having so many spares is that it doesn’t make me feel more in control or more secure. It makes me feel encumbered, bogged down. I would like to believe the Message version of Mark 6:8-9: “Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. No special appeals for funds. Keep it simple.” Maybe someday I’ll believe it. With God’s help I will be the only equipment necessary for the journey.

Sybil MacBeth ©2010


  1. Spare is a funny word; I wonder where it comes from… In addition to being synonymous with ‘extra,’ it can mean sparse, or empty. We talk about a “spare space,” meaning a simple and sparsely-furnished area. We even say “Spare me!” when begging for mercy.

    • OOOH! I love the multiple meanings. Maybe “Spare Me” means let me the extra one who lives.


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