One of the unique aspects of the Outer Banks is the ability to see the stars at night. Our small population, the lack of high rise buildings and pollution, and our minimal use of street lights make this the perfect place to stargaze. I live on Colington Island, where there are no street lights on the side roads, so it is especially lovely to see the entire heavenly realm from our front porches.
A few weeks ago, I returned from our Ash Wednesday service well after dark and was struck once again by the beauty of the night sky. The pancake supper and service had been very lovely and uplifting. Many families finally returned to church after a pandemic absence. Dare Challenge, our local drug and alcohol recovery group, was in attendance. I watched them joyfully consuming seconds and thirds of supper before helping to clean up and put tables away. I made ash crosses on foreheads that I hadn’t seen in a very long time, and my heart welled up with joy. Yes, I was wearing a mask. No, I didn’t care.
It finally felt normal.
Lent is a season when we pursue righteousness. We hunker down and get serious about Scripture reading, prayer, fasting, self-examination, repentance … anything that can draw us closer to the heart of God. Lent is the perfect time to get right with God.
Surprisingly, into this moment comes Abram. Speaking for myself, I did not see that coming.
Abram was a man whom God found to be righteous, and so God promised him more heirs than stars in the Outer Banks sky:
Genesis 15 (New International Version)
After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:
“Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward.”
2 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”
You have to love Abram’s skills here. He is a master negotiator. Somehow he politely but forcefully reminds God that since God has given Abram no children, there cannot be heirs. I wonder if Abram was a lawyer in his past. Well played, Abram!
4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
The promise is made, the course of Abram’s life is dramatically changed, and Abram believed:
6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Belief is the cornerstone of righteousness. It is the foundation of all of our moral centering. When we believe in a loving God who provides, a saving Son who redeems, and a living Spirit who empowers us to to what is right, we are on the path toward righteousness.
Do you believe? Do you love God with all you heart, mind, soul, and strength?
As we continue on this Lenten journey together, may we encourage one another to remain on the path that leads to righteousness.