March 18, 2009

Crackers, Cheese, and Orange Juice

2009 1508 page24 caphe sun was just coming up over the mountains as my husband, Clint, and I started out on our adventure. Wanting to see the breathtaking beauty of the Grand Teton National Park in the northwest corner of Wyoming, we decided to begin our day with a “short” early-morning hike to a beautiful flower meadow located near Jenny Lake.

Because this was to be only a short walk (we were told the meadow was not far), we decided not to carry the weight of food or water with us. The fresh morning air was cool, and we would certainly be back at the lodge in plenty of time for lunch.
After crossing Jenny Lake on a small raft, we headed up the trail toward the meadow. For the first hour or two the hike was easy and the view beautiful, but as the August sun rose higher in the sky, the flower meadow seemed to get farther away—and less important to see. As the next hour passed I was wishing we had brought some water, and as noon approached my stomach began reprimanding me for my foolishness of not packing a lunch.
Walking more slowly now, my thoughts began to linger on the idea of food and water. “Why hadn’t we brought some?” “How could we have been so remiss?” I kept asking myself these questions again and again until a thought came to mind: Why not ask God to help? Has He not promised that our “bread and water” will “be sure”?
Then the argument with myself began—How can I ask God for help, I reasoned, when it is my own fault that I am in this predicament? Wouldn’t it be presumptuous to ask for His help? Besides, would He even care about such a little thing?
2009 1508 page24But the thought—just like my hunger and thirst—wouldn’t go away. “Why don’t you just ask Him?” prompted a still small voice within. “OK, God,” I silently prayed. “I’ve gotten myself into this situation, and I really need Your help. I know it’s my fault, and I’m sorry for being so foolish as not to bring food and water, but I’m really thirsty and hungry. You’ve told us in the Bible that You will provide bread and water for Your children—so Lord, please, if it’s Your will—will You please send some?”
Silence. I felt foolish, and I had no peace—no peace because I had not been completely honest with God. I had been too embarrassed to ask Him for what I really wanted.
“Go on,” continued the still small voice. “Why don’t you tell Him what you really want?”
“How can I do that?” I wondered. It was hard enough to ask for bread and water, but if I asked for what I was really craving . . .
“Don’t you think He already knows what you want?” asked the voice. “Just tell Him.”
I continued to walk along in silence. Finally, I prayed again. “God, You know everything. You know it is our own fault for not bringing anything. But, Lord, it’s so hot, and I’m so thirsty and hungry. I would be grateful for some bread and water, but . . . and I’m so embarrassed to ask You this . . . but what I’d really like are some crackers, cheese, and orange juice.”
Nothing happened. I had no idea how God would fill such a ridiculous request in the middle of this wilderness, but I had peace.
Weary from the walk and hot from the sun, I sat down on a rock under 
a shady tree, while Clint went on to check out the trail ahead. As I sat there resting, a group of serious backpackers came by and joined me for a short rest. We chatted for a few minutes about 
the beauty of the Tetons and the warm day, and before long they started down the path toward Jenny Lake. Watching them leave I noticed the last one pause, turn around, and walk back to where 
I was still sitting.
“Are you hungry? Are you thirsty?” he asked. “I don’t have much—just some crackers, some cheese, and some orange juice. Would you like some?”
Gratefully holding the precious snacks in my hands, tears blurred my vision as I watched this unknown hiker catch up with his group. It was like manna from heaven, like food brought by ravens to Elijah, like the feeding of the 5,000. It was a real miracle.
What About our “Big” Prayers?
Does God care about the “small things” in our lives? I believe He does—especially after this experience in the Tetons. Even though He does not always give us what we ask for, we are invited to cast “all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).*
But what about when we plead with God for something much bigger than this, and there is no answer—or at least not the answer we want to hear?
A few years ago my uncle was diagnosed with a glioblastoma—a very aggressive, fast-growing brain tumor. It would take a miracle to keep this diagnosis from becoming a death sentence.
So once again I pleaded with God, reminding Him that this uncle was a really special person, not only to his wife and children and to me but to the entire community, where he was a much-loved and highly respected high school teacher and principal. “He is a shining light in the community,” I told God. “Won’t You please spare his life?”
But this time there was no “crackers, cheese, and orange juice” answer to my prayers. This time the answer was “No, not now.” I sobbed at the funeral, wondering how the God of answered prayer could let such a good man die.
And yet, it is in times like these that perhaps the most powerful lesson of that miracle in the Tetons comes to mind.
Our God Cares
I am learning that the awesomeness of that story does not lie with the actual food in my hands, but with the kind of God who would answer that type of prayer. When we focus only on the temporal benefits, we are like the crowds who saw Jesus only as someone who had the power to feed their stomachs but not save their souls. God cares about our physical needs, but seeking the Savior Himself, rather than just what He can do for us, is the key to finding an anchor in times of storm. We are encouraged to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
Knowing the kind of God He is gives me the assurance that no matter what the immediate outcome, I am sure that He has heard my prayer. And while I may not understand everything now, I know that the “snacks” He gives us here are only a foretaste of the banquet to come. 
*All Bible texts in this article are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ” 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Gina Wahlen is a freelance writer living in Silver Spring, Maryland.