God had seen Sodom’s sin and planned to destroy the city…but Abraham pleaded with God, hoping He would save the city if there were just a few righteous people. After God sent angels to Sodom, and they were almost raped by the men of the city, the angels said God would not spare Sodom. But if the family left immediately, they could escape.
Lot and Mrs. Lot seemed to drag their feet as they faced the challenge of leaving their home. Despite numerous warnings – such as “Don’t look back”…“Do not stop”…“Flee”…the angels had to grab them by the hands and pull them away to avoid being caught up in the destruction.
So they fled…and as the city perished behind them, Mrs. Lot – tragically – looked back. The result? She turned into a pillar of salt.
I often have wondered why she looked back. After all, the city was an evil place and under God’s judgment. How could there be anything of worth to look back upon? And yet she stopped, turned, and looked back. Was Mrs. Lot was just curious? Was she just pining for her lost past in a place of familiarity? Did she feel a sense of emptiness because she could not take all of her belongings with her? Or perhaps it was just a sense of sadness at leaving behind some friends? Or maybe…just maybe…it was easier to look back, rather than face her fear of an unknown future.
Obviously, we can only surmise all the reasons that Mrs. Lot looked back, but she did… and with that single act of disobedience, her story and her life come to an abrupt end.
I’ve been thinking about Mrs. Lot’s story these past few weeks, wondering what lessons I might glean from her. Certainly, if God gives me some clear instructions, I should obey Him – not just in word, but in action. God also reminds me that He is my escape route, often rescuing me from my poorly-chosen ideas or behaviors that would hold me back from the life He has for me.
For almost 14 months Bruce and I prayed specifically that God would clearly show us the next step for our lives. After all that waiting, we were excited when God directed us to Oregon to be a part of a new church family here.
But thinking about change, and then experiencing it, are not the same thing. In my mind, I thought within a month or so I would feel settled. Obviously it’s been too long since I’ve moved! I forgot how long it takes to acclimate to something new. Of course there’s the first rush of excitement as you meet new people and explore new places. But after the sense of “brand new” fades, you discover that you still are trying to discover how and where you fit. That can lead to a sense of disquiet; a sense of unrest. It can produce doubts and questions.
And a heart that harbors doubts and anxiety is easy prey for that whisper, “look back”. Look back to the friends you miss. Look back to a house and a familiar routine. Look back, because the life you knew is there. Life as you want it is there. But this message is a lie. And if I let my mind embrace that deception, it becomes self-destructive. I cannot look back and I cannot go back because God has called us here. Our life now is here. And part of the lie is this: our life in Fullerton had changed, and the siren song of my memory does not fit with the reality of the past couple of years.
The wonderful friends in my life were moving on in their careers and in their experiences, while I was in a season of waiting and praying for the next step. We had left behind our church and our ministries. Our place…my place…in the world of Fullerton was gone. I had been changed by my journey, and I no longer was the same person. I needed to move on and God had prepared me to move on.
But pining for a rose-colored past, and a fear of the unknown future, can cause me to become paralyzed in the present.
Life seems very different now, but it’s been very different for at least the past two years. And it is these seasons of “different” that turn life into an adventure and an opportunity; a time for new growth and new life. A time to increasingly learn how to live by faith by looking forward...not backward.
Mrs. Lot’s tragic story reminds me that God’s call is not to look back and try to recapture a past whose chapter is closed. (After all, who wants to be a pillar of salt?) Instead, my loving Father invites me to look forward into my new adventure with Him, and to bask in the joy of being a recipient of, and a reflector of, His light.
One day at a time. One step at a time.