The disciples forgot to bring bread with them. They journeyed with Jesus and began discussing amongst themselves how they were going to eat with no bread (similar to how Jordan Sparks discusses with herself how she is supposed to breathe with no air).
This story is found in Matthew 16, one chapter after Jesus feeds the four thousand, and two chapters after Jesus feeds the five thousand. In two chapters Jesus feeds well over nine thousand people. And the disciples are wondering how they are supposed to eat with no bread.
So Jesus says this: “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered?” (Matthew 16:8-10).
The disciples had just experienced bread coming out of nowhere—not once but twice. And yet they still switched into freak out mode when they forgot the bread.
* * *
Sometimes I can be pretty outdoorsy. Like hiking and climbing and chasing waterfalls and stuff. I usually don’t just stick to the rivers that I’m used to (shameless TLC reference). When I hike, I hate hiking on wide paths. It just feels wrong to me, to have a human-made path tell me where to go in nature. It just seems like nature was meant to be explored, you know?
So my favorite paths are the ones that hardly anyone knows about. They cross boulders and streams and sometimes seem impossible.
On these trails, every couple hundred feet, there are these stacks of rocks, one on top of another, usually five high. They look like the towers I made as a kid with whatever was near me.
They stand out in the forests because someone built them. Nature didn’t just accidentally stack up some rocks; someone put them there on purpose.
The rock-formation-things are called cairns and serve as trail markers (I like to imagine they are kind women named Karen pointing to the path). When the path isn’t easily paved, they stand out and let me know I’m still on the right trail. Just because I like exploring the road less travelled doesn't mean I don't need help and guidance along the way.
There’s been quite a few times when I’ve gotten lost on the trail and have had to go back to the last cairn I saw. I’d hike back to that, reacquaint myself with my surroundings, and set out to find the next cairn.
* * *
Life isn’t usually a well-paved path.
There’s undergrowth and large trees and boulders. Streams have to be stepped over and rivers have to be waded through. Sometimes we’ll find the trail easily, walking to the next rock and finding the next tree.
Other times though, the traveling will be hard. We will become blinded by the sun and the vastness of the journey in front of us. The next step won’t always be obvious, and sometimes we’ll get lost.
The times we’ve experienced the Lord’s hand in our lives will be forgotten amidst the fear of the unknown terrain. Nothing will look the same, and we will feel trapped in our own heads, afraid to take a step.
We will be out of bread and hungry. We will not remember the time God fed the five thousand in our life. We will not remember the baskets left over or the stomachs that were full. We will only see our own empty hands.
It’s in this place that we must learn how to look back at the cairns in our lives—those moments when God’s voice breaks through and confirms we’re on the right path. We need to remember the goodness of God and his ability to provide for his children. Even when we are walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, with the cliffs arching above us, his rod and his staff will still comfort us.
There are cairns all around us, reminders of the faithfulness of God.
Sometimes we just have to backtrack and remember their locations.