Trail Cairns


For fall break in 2014, I headed out with four friends to squat in the forest for a few days. Others with the ability to navigate planned what would happen and where we would go. One of the evenings we hiked along a trail with a name I can’t recall. It was a basic hike. The leaves just beginning to turn splattered the dirt and speckled the sky with vibrant fall hues. As we haphazardly went through a small opening in a side trail, we found something I will never forget.

We stumbled upon this old river bed filled with small stacks of rocks known as cairns. Hikers use them to mark trails or for a great Instagram pic. As far as I could see up and down this riverbed, cairns stood. The stacks of rocks filling my view of the riverbed turned trail reminded me of 1 Samuel 7:12-14 when the Israelite defeated the Philistines and built ebenezer stones. In Hebrew ebenezer means “stone of help”. Samuel built an ebenezer stone as a reminder of a time when God helped or was faithful.

The vast amount of stones I scanned caught my attention. Being engulfed by cairns caused me to stop and take stalk of how little I pause to remind myself of God’s faithfulness in my own life. God truly shows Himself faithful, we just do not always stop to see it.

The numerous cairn towers made moving forward in a straight line impossible. The trail cluttered with varying sizes of teetering towers caught all of our attention. We spent a good amount of time building our own cairns, weaving our way through others stacks of stones. We took pictures and considered knocking some of the towers over, a hard urge to resist at times. All of this lead me to a thought: “If I built a cairn or ebenezer stone for each time God showed Himself faithful to me, it would expand far beyond the vast area I stood in. It would not fit in the space that already seemed impossibly full of cairns.”

If we stopped to reflect on how faithful God displays Himself in our lives, it would render the trail impassable.


As we approach another holiday season, you may find yourself wondering if God forgot you. Your circumstances may overshadow the joyous celebrations surrounding you. You may not feel like celebrating with others.

But I challenge you to stop and build yourself an ebenezer stone in honor of the ways God shows up in your life. You could put it on paper like I made my roommate do. Or sit on a trail as you look out on a scene only the creator of the universe could craft. Or sit on your sofa and list out ways God shows up in your life.

Create a tangible way to see God’s faithfulness. Remember the ways He is faithful to us as a reference when we begin to feel lost. These reminders provide us with a place to return to when we get off of the trail. It recenters us and redirects us when we feel lost or forgotten.

Let this picture serve as a tangible reminder of how God time and time again shows Himself faithful, at least until you build your own ebenezer stone. Let it remind you of how He will continue to prove Himself faithful in your life. His faithfulness may not look like you or I thought it should look, but I promise you He is more faithful than you even know.   




2 thoughts on “Trail Cairns

  1. I wish I could have seen these ‘live’. And if we as believers built these cairns along the trail of life, it would indeed become impassable. Good words, good reminders.


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