I heard an outstanding sermon yesterday focusing on the story of Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of the ever-reaching consequences of sin and disobedience. It was interesting how the minister (my girlfriend’s dad) pointed out how one sin leads to another, which leads to another. He started off focusing on how Abraham’s disobedience to God (bringing his nephew Lot with him on his travels, despite God’s explicit warning not to) led to Lot residing in Sodom; and how Lot living in the city opened up a new can of worms.
What I found particularly interesting was the discussion about Lot’s wife. For any bible thumpers out there, recall the text:
So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, “Get up, get out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city!” But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking. When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.” And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.
The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:14-17, 23-26, NKJV)
On the surface, it looks like Lot’s wife was punished simply because of her disobedience. But I think it goes a bit deeper than that. More than disobeying God’s direct commandment, I think Lot’s wife was also guilty of not being able to let go of her past; a past severely weighing her down. Instead of looking forward to a new life of liberation from the stains of sin found throughout that city, her thoughts – and indeed, her actions – regressed back to the life she was leaving behind. For her, advancement was never going to be an option.
How many of us are like that? How many of us are unable or unwilling to be forward-thinking in our lifestyles?
I won’t lie to you: the practice of looking back is indeed very tempting. But it’s important to note that doing so is also VERY deceptive. With a limitless future directly in front of us and new and wonderful experiences waiting to be realized, many of us build a resistance to that unknown newness in favor of holding on to a past that was destructive to us. We’re deceived into believing that our best times are behind us and that whatever lies ahead is not worth the trouble to pursue. Instead of using our difficult experiences as a tool from which we learn and move beyond, we somehow adjust those circumstances to our lives in the present; assimilating them to our experience. Not only can that be unhealthy, but I think it’s contrary to what God wants for us.
I’m not telling you anything I’m not guilty of myself. In many respects, I’m no different…nay, no better than Lot’s wife. I’ve held on to some stuff in my past (people, events, or otherwise) that could have easily destroyed me. When God laid new opportunities at my feet, I initially built a wall of resistence, either out of fear of walking into the unknown, deeply-rooted cynicism and distrust, or my desire to see have divert back to what I once considered “the good old days.” But those days were filled with anger, frustration, hurt, and lonliness. In hindsight, I NEVER want to go back there.
In short folks, we should keep our eyes front and our feet moving ahead. Anything short of that is limiting to both you and God.
Holla at me!