From the Daily Office Lectionary for Monday in the week of Proper 13, Year 1 (Pentecost 10, 2015)

Mark 8:14 ~ Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.

What is it with Christians, beginning from the very first followers of Jesus? We seem to have a penchant for going off half-cocked! Even when we have direct and immediate experience that should influence us otherwise; this failure to bring bread follows almost immediately on their failure to have sufficient supplies with them when Jesus fed the 4,000, which itself followed shortly the feeding of the 5,000. You’d think they would have learned, and you’d think their successors through nearly 2,000 years of human history would have learned! But we don’t. We often begin projects without sufficient preparation.

OK. It’s not a purely Christian failing; it’s a human predisposition. Failure to prepare. Some people overcompensate for this by swinging their preparation pendulum way over to the opposite extreme; my spouse is one of these people . . . sometimes. Often when we travel she will pack twice as many clothes as she will need, but will then leave her mobile phone behind (more than one hurried return trip has been made retrieve something like that when an item’s absence has been discovered as we are half-way to the airport).

Is there an answer? Well, yes. Checklists. “He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice . . . .” I’ve heard my wife and my children singing that song under their breath as I prepare for a journey or a project. Fine, make fun of me. It works, and it’s fully in keeping with Jesus’ teaching. Remember the parable of the slave who did not prepare and whose master found him unready – Jesus promised he would “receive a severe beating.” (Lk 12:47) Or consider his question to those who would be his followers: “Which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it?” (Lk 14:28)

We are, of course, to rely upon the abundant graces of God. “God will provide” is a sentiment in which more of us should trust. On the other hand, we are supposed to be stewards of God’s bounty and stewards are supposed to be people of common sense and good preparation. Setting off on a journey, undertaking a major project with only a single loaf of bread is not good stewardship!