When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, 2 you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. 3 You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, “Today I declare to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” 4 When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, 5 you shall make this response before the Lord your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous.Deuteronomy 26:1–5 (NRSV)
Ash Wednesday invites us to remember that we are dust and to dust we shall return. Meanwhile, the first Sunday of Lent’s Old Testament passage invites us to remember God’s faithfulness. Our need. God’s provision. Those two realities stand side by side this week to reinforce that while our need is great our Lord is greater.
When we want to give in to the doubt. When the moment seems too overwhelming for our strength. These are the times we need to lean into the memories of God’s faithfulness. For the Israelites they retold the story over and over of their move to and from Egypt which brought them into the promised land. We, too, can find strength in retelling those stories.
We have personal stories too. When doubts creep in and stress overwhelms my life, I am often reminded of the time some unknown person made a donation to cover a significant portion of my tuition and my families’ health insurance while in seminary. It never fails that after I remember that event I have a little more strength to keep holding on. Since God worked then…there is a good chance God will work now. I’m convinced you have those personal stories too. Cling to them. Retell them often. For God’s provision for that day in your past can be strength for the day in your present. God’s gifts keep giving…