Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Ecclesiastes 11:1
What does it mean to cast your bread upon the waters? People use the phrase in different ways. For some, it means to take a chance. Bread could be used to catch fish as well as less edible creatures – wait and see what bites. For others it means to give it away and have faith it will return to you. They see it as charity, like feeding part of your lunch sandwich to the ducks and fish in a pond at the park. It is sharing your food (life) with others less fortunate.
In ancient Egypt, bread (grain) symbolized wealth and livelihood. Water (the ocean or the Nile) symbolized trade, the business world, economy. They would sprinkle grain in the water in a ceremony to invoke good luck from the gods. Perhaps that is the idea behind wishing wells and tossing coins into a fountain. Bread and grain were often traded as money.
The Old Testament talks about bread as being one’s staple, what a person needs to get by on a daily basis. Perhaps this is what Jesus meant in the Lord’s Prayer when he prayed for God to give us each day our daily bread. To a nomadic desert people water was a more precious commodity than gold. It was life itself. In the wilderness, God provided both bread (manna) and water in miraculous ways.
Jesus called himself both the Bread of Life and the Living Water. He gives us daily what we need to sustain us, and also quenches our thirst for belonging to something greater than ourselves and to be loved for eternity. He gives us earth and heaven – the here and now, and the world to come. If we have faith, God will provide for us, emotionally, economically and physically. Yes, we have to do our part. We have to cast it into the loving arms who created it all and trust He will dole it back out as we need it, when we need it. It is like putting all of our money in the bank for future use and withdrawing only what we need. Except, of course we are talking about more than money, we are talking about our very souls.