Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | June 14, 2017

Take no bag

I have always wanted to be a tiny-purse carrier. Alas, my nature seems to work against it.

At this moment, I’m on an airplane. At my feet, crammed into the space under the seat in front of me, are two items. One is my computer backpack; the other is my rather large purse. In that pocketbook are essential items (wallet, phone, lipstick) next to the non-essential ones. I consider the latter to be in the you-never-know-when-you-might-need-this category, and I have used each of them at some time or other. Here’s a partial list: 6-foot tape measurer, a tiny screwdriver with interchangeable blades, a small flashlight, toothbrush and toothpaste, hair paste, Kleenex, Purel, Band-Aids, Sudafed, Tylenol, chocolate (oh yeah), sweater, sunglasses, reading glasses, carrier for my business cards, a bazillion pens, notebook, a packet of those wonderful little Post-Its that mark a page in a book, and a book that may need to be marked with Post-Its. I also typically carry a Swiss army knife, but when I fly it goes into my checked bag to be returned to the purse at my destination. (In my backpack are computer, tablet, camera, charger cords, journals, and more.)

On occasion, I’ve tried to convert to a tiny purse. I am able to do it for an evening out when I can get by with just a phone, driver’s license, credit card, and a $20 bill—my large wallet won’t fit in a tiny purse. Beyond that, I’m at a loss. What if I start sneezing, or need a bottle opener?

When Jesus sends out the twelve, he charges them to do good work, and tells them what to carry along, or not. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts… So far, so good. I don’t usually carry those things, except for the random penny.  …no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. [Matthew 9—10]

Wait, what? Did you say no bag? Not even a tiny purse?

“Tee hee, Jesus. I know you haven’t traveled that far from home, but I find that when I’m traveling it sometimes gets chilly in the evenings and I may need a sweater.”

“You may.”

“Plus, fellow travelers might stub a toe or get a headache.”

“They might.”

“Or” (I think this may strike a nerve), “what if we need to take notes about your stories and lessons so we can write a gospel later on?”

“Write this down,” says Jesus. “You won’t need them on this trip. I’m trying to teach you something.”

“Which would be…”

“You’ll be going among strangers. Some of them have different religions. All the villages have their own customs. Some may be hospitable and some may not. Instead of relying on yourself, rely on them. This will teach you to receive as well as to give. It will help you to appreciate the things they have to share with you, including their food and its particular spices, their hammocks for sleeping and their tunics for when it gets chilly, their stories and their experiences, their faith and the things they care about. When you stub your toe or get a headache let them take care of you. If they don’t do these things, just walk away. But if they show you hospitality, you will have gained a relationship that will warm you and reward you. Most of all, you will be changed by them, just as they will be changed by you.”

When we let go of the things that don’t matter, or even the things that do matter, like food and security, we find out whom we can trust. We learn who will reflect God’s character to us.

Helped by each other. Warmed by each other. Changed by each other. Strengthened to keep on going to the next place. And when we get to that place, if it gets chilly in the evening I may need to ask you for a sweater.

© 2017 Melissa Bane Sevier

from airplane 6-14-17, lightroom adapted, copyright, low



  1. […] with the intriguing lament, “I have always wanted to be a tiny-purse carrier,” Melissa Bane Sevier reflects on what we carry around, and Jesus’ instructions to his disciples not to carry a bag, […]

  2. I wonder where Jesus talked about or used the /term/ “call”?

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