“He says we need to stop at a tire store because the spare he put on is the wrong size.”
Our daughter and a fellow from her village had just picked us up in his truck at the airport in Santo Domingo. She had been in the Dominican Republic for over a year, and we were eager to spend some time with her learning about her Peace Corps experience.
Just as we left the parking lot, a tire blew out. Her friend quickly replaced it with another he had in the back, but it was obvious we couldn’t continue for another four hours with the truck off balance.
He pulled over to a used tire place, and the negotiations began. I wondered if they would have the tire we needed, and my doubts grew as they stood around saying little if anything. Our daughter assured us this was all just a part of the process… a cultural thing.
Meanwhile I walked around the truck to check on the other tires, hoping the driver wasn’t just being picky. To my surprise, not only did the tires not match in brand name, they were obviously not the same size either. That spare must have been really off the mark to warrant a replacement!
Spares are a welcome commodity… things not normally needed or used. Some people have a hidden spare key in case they are locked out of their house. I’m happy when someone can spare the time to help me with a problem. Now that the children have moved out of the house, we have a spare room for overnight guests.
I’m not much of a bowler, but I know spares are good things. A spare isn’t as good as a strike, but it still gets the job done even if it takes two tries.
Even spare change is helpful when you want to feed the parking meter. And when the parking spot is a little tight, I’m the one who checks when my husband is backing into the space to be sure there is room to spare.
I often use the phrase “Spare me!” when I’ve had enough of someone’s explanations or excuses. I do, however, welcome the offer, “Let me spare you the trouble of…” especially when I don’t have the time or energy to spare. And that is a kindness I need to pass on more often to alleviate someone else’s frustration.
We often hear the paraphrase from Proverbs 13:24, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” Now I know this isn’t license to beat one’s children. But “sparing the rod” also means being unduly lenient… letting our children get away with bad behavior, indulging their demands. Anyone who has been around this kind of spoiled child understands that discipline should be used carefully, not sparingly.
I welcome the comments “We have spared no expense in providing you with the best we can offer” and “There is enough to eat and plenty to spare” and even “Don’t spare the syrup. Pour it on!” These generous statements make us all smile.
Then there are those who want to intervene: “I want to spare you from making a fool of yourself.“ The Apostle Paul was quick to remind the ship’s captain and crew in the middle of a storm that was sure to wreck the ship that, if they had listened to him, they would have spared themselves from certain destruction. Paul was always one to offer his “I told you so!” (Acts 27:21)
The Old Testament is full of stories of destruction when crops or homes or cities or even people were not spared. Sodom would have been spared if the Lord had found just ten righteous people in the whole town. But in spite of Abraham’s negotiations, the city lacked even a handful of qualified citizens, and the end came swiftly.
The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Joel cried out to the Lord on many occasions to spare His people. But often the Israelites were undeserving, even rebellious, and the Lord let loose His wrath.
Yet there were stories of hope. The first born were spared when the Angel of Death passed over the homes with the blood-stained doorframes. Rahab and her entire household were spared because of her willingness to shelter the spies in Jericho. And the Lord spared the remnant of His people from total annihilation, not because of anything they did, but because He chose to forgive them (Jer. 50:20).
I have trouble with God’s decisions sometimes. Why does evil prevail, and the lives of His followers are not spared? Entire books have been written on this seeming miscarriage of justice. I know evil holds sway too often in this world, and it seems so unjust. And I don’t think we ever will get a satisfactory answer this side of heaven.
But God does give us some answers. “The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest” (Is. 57:1-2).
When I think about it, I know loved ones have been spared the pain of the future. Still this is a hard reality to accept… that there are worse fates than death. Death is so very hard this side of heaven.
Just like the writer of the hymn “How Great Thou Art” I too am overwhelmed by how He worked out His plan of salvation. “And when I think that God His Son not sparing, sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in…”
I’m not going to second guess God. After all He knows all about sparing. He didn’t spare His own Son, but instead gave Him up for the whole world (Rom. 8:32).
He didn’t spare His own Son for the sake of those who don’t even understand their own need for His sacrifice.
And He gave His all for those who call out “Spare me!” For those who call Him Lord.
He did it for me.
Leaving my guilt at the cross,