A cairn is a human-made pile of stones. The word cairn comes from the Scottish Gaelic: càrn. Cairns have been used for a broad variety of purposes, from prehistoric times to the present. They are trail markers in many parts of the world—in uplands, on moorland, on mountaintops, near waterways and on sea cliffs, as well as in barren deserts and tundra.
I was in Norway recently facilitating a group exploring the topics of generosity and stewardship. During this time, I had the privilege of walking in the mountains near my hometown of Bergen. The sky was clear blue (which is not always the case in Bergen) and the ground was covered with a fresh layer of snow. It felt like the day was a special gift from God. I was led by cairns on my journey and made it safely to the top.
The trip made me think of the importance of having a good guide. When we explore a new country or learn a new sport, we often seek out a good guide.
Who is your guide on the journey of life? In my experience, I have found Jesus to be the best guide. I trust him. In John 10:11, it says “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
Jesus provides many trail markers for us to experience the abundant life. Here are three.
Trail Marker #1: God’s Good and Perfect Gifts
To receive what we have as a gift from God is a very important trail marker. We are in all ways dependent on the gracious care of our Lord. As Luke 12:24 tells us:
Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!
What we have is not entirely the result of our own labor. This is very challenging to live out for me. My attitude in work often assumes that the results are completely dependent on me. It is very freeing to be reminded that God cares for me and wants to be my provider. What God provides is good and reminds us of his faithfulness.
Trail Marker #2: God Cares for His Creation
To know that it is God’s business, and not ours, to care for what we have is another trail marker on the journey toward an abundant life. God can protect what we possess, according to his will.
There’s no need to hoard (trying to protect what we have by ourselves) (Matt. 6:19-21) or place our faith in what we have. As Trevor Badorrek writes:
[We] have the sinful problem of valuing created things more than God. We find our identity and purpose in the world, in our status, and in our possessions, rather than in God. We can become obsessed with chasing these things.
There is incredible freedom from bondage to “things” when we trust God. Contentment and resting in the Lord’s care are powerful reminders that we are on the right path in our life journey.
Trail Marker #3: Cheerful Giving
To make our possessions available to others is a third marker of Jesus’ work in our lives. Living our life like a pipe (a conduit), and not like a bucket (a gathering and storage tool), leads to joy and peace. When we come to see God as the almighty creator and our loving Father, we can share what he’s given us because we know that he will care for us:
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God (2 Cor. 9:10-11).
Holding on to what we have loosely so that we can share is a great reminder that all we have comes from the Lord. It’s a sign that Jesus is working in our hearts and ordering our steps.
Trust the trail marked out by Jesus. He is good. He will lead us into green pastures. He will steer us in the right direction.
Take him as your guide and follow his trail markers toward the “good life.”