Trail Markers


I went on my first overnight backpacking trip in middle school. The pack was about as large as I was. I was so excited for the adventure of carrying my food, clothing, and tent on my back and taking off into the wilderness. The first five miles were strenuous but uneventful. We followed a narrow path through the Cascade Mountains as we slowly climbed in elevation. Then we turned a corner and we no longer saw the path. All that was before us was a snow field.

Yes, we were hiking in June, but “summer” doesn’t seem to matter in Washington State. The snow in the mountains sticks around pretty much year round. I became a bit worried and I asked my dad. “Where do we go now?! The path is gone!”
My dad simply pointed, and off in the distance I saw a stack of eight rocks placed on top of one another (similar to the photo at the top of this e-mail; the rock pile is called a cairn).

We hiked to the stack of rocks, and looked around for the next cairn to direct us. We continued to follow them, pile after pile, until we were through the snow field and back to our normal hiking trail.

Reflecting on this experience makes me realize how essential these trail markers were. Without them, we would have certainly gotten lost. Historically, stacks of rocks have not only been used as trail makers. They have also been used to mark important sites or to memorialize important events.

You’ll see something similar to that this week in our study of Jacob. Jacob experiences a profound moment with God and he chooses to create a memorial out of rocks so that he always remembers his experience with God.

The next morning Jacob got up very early. He took the stone he had rested his head against, and he set it upright as a memorial pillar. Then he poured olive oil over it. He named that place Bethel (which means “house of God”), although it was previously called Luz.
-Genesis 28:18-19

We’ll explore more about this story on Sunday. For now, let’s reflect on the experiences we’ve had with God that we want to remember. Did you ever keep a tangible symbol as reminder of your experience? Do you have things hanging around your house that conjure up important memories?

The next time you have an important moment in your faith, be like Jacob and create a reminder for yourself—something that you can keep and refer to over your lifetime. These will become visible reminders of an invisible experience with God.

See you on Sunday!
-Pastor David