The book of Deuteronomy reminds me of the struggle with recognizing and worshipping God in the land of plenty.
Over and over, Moses preaches to the Isrealites to “Remember the Lord”. He urges his people to dwell on the provision and providence that is their God. He is the God that brought them out of slavery. Through plagues and miracles, they were set free. He is the God that brought them through the wilderness. Raining down manna for their sustenance, they did not starve.
But Moses knew they were facing their harshest challenge yet: the land of plenty.
Moses knew what we know so well. When you have everything you need, it’s easy to get lazy.
These people, who for a generation had intimate recognition of their God, were about to be delivered into a land of great provision. No longer would they see manna raining from the sky. No longer would they be wanderers dependant on the moment. They were about to live in “a land with large, flourishing cities [they] did not build,houses filled with all kinds of good things [they] did not provide, wells [they] did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves [they] did not plant.” (6:10-11) Their lives were about to drastically change.
So what did Moses urge them to do? Remember.
He urged them to write God’s laws on their door frames and on their gates, to teach them to their children and their children’s children. He urged them to love their God well and pass on the stories of God’s provision.
We, too, are like the Israelites.
We are surrounded by plenty in cities we did not build, with wells we did not dig, with vast Super Markets of items we did not create, hunt, or farm. We have option on option on option. For generations there has been no end to our excess.
So what should we do? Remember.