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"By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. Then, the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah -- from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus, he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities - and also the vegetation in the land. But Lot's wife looked back, and she become a pillar of salt." -- Genesis 19:23-26
Characters in our story:
Lot was the nephew of Abraham, he traveled with his uncle until their separation, when Abraham gave him the choice of the lands and Lot chose the better land (Genesis 13), he was taken captive by Kedorlaomer until Abraham rescued him (Genesis 14), after being rescued out of Sodom he was tricked by his two daughters because they wanted sons (Genesis 19).
While living in Sodom, two angels had been sent to warn Lot and his family about the impending doom of Sodom and Gomorrah. They urged him (multiple times) to get out because they were going to destroy everything. Even after having townspeople basically kicking in his door to see his visitors and offering up his daughters to let the men have their way with them, Lot hesitated. The angels took the hands of Lot, his wife and his daughters and led them safely out of the city. They told Lot to take his family to the mountains, but Lot didn't think they would make it in time. So they settled upon getting to the small town of Zoar. The angels gave simple instructions before they fled: don't look back and don't stop anywhere in the plain.
Lot and his family had reached Zoar, the small haven of hope, security and protection. Once they were there, it was then that the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. And it was then that Lot's wife looked back.
She looked back after she was already in safety!
What did Lot's wife miss so much, that she needed to look back? A longing for the life she had there, a desire for everything that she had left in the city?
Different commentaries and Jewish legends tell us some different, possible answers. Perhaps she did miss that life in Sodom and everything she had. One commentary says that she was looking for her daughters and saw God himself destroying the cities and the sight of Him turned her to salt. But, we know that the daughters were with her and Lot when they were leaving Sodom.
Bottom line? Lot's wife disobeyed an expressed command. Her unbelief and desire for the life she left behind prompted her to turn around.
I've had a pretty good life, most of us have, when compared to others in the world. Yes, we have all had our fair share of problems. Personally, its been earthly fathers who have walked away, moving away from a place that held all my friends and family, high school (enough said), college, friendships that were actually real and took work, natural disasters (tornadoes, hurricanes), car accidents, more moves to cities I didn't really know (these times I initiated those moves), college graduation, a move all the way across the country, family problems and then moving back home.
(Not to mention all the struggles that come with being a girl.)
And even when I look back and read that list, it seems pathetic. I haven't had nearly the problems that others have. Drugs, alcohol, starvation, no home, no money, no shoes and no clothes.
Here's a question: would I go back to when I was having those problems, instead of where I am now? Absolutely not.
Or would I?
Either I see those problems as just that, problems, or I see them as possibilities. Possibilities for the Lord to work in unimaginable ways and for God's glory to show tremendously. Time and time again I have said it and I believe it in every sense. In those moments, when I'm surrounded by turmoil and tears, I may not be able to see what God is doing. Yet, later down the road, when I remember those times, I can see exactly how God was working to get me to the present.
When it comes to sin, there may always be something intriguing. Something that lingers, teasing me from a distance in the hope that I will come in for a closer look. But the Lord has told me to look forward. That my sins are forgiven and forgotten. They have been thrown into the sea. The shiny that draws me in, is actually really dull. There is nothing there for me.
For whatever reason that Lot's wife decided to look back, she did. And she was turned into a pillar of salt. But here is what gets me. She looked back, after she was in safety! She knew that her town was about to be obliterated. She was in this haven, with her family. Safe. They had everything in front of them. Yet, something inside of her made her feel like she needed to look back. She needed to see it one last time.
Friend, whatever sin we are struggling with, whatever past problem still lingers with us today, the Lord wants us to run away and not look back. He has promised us the hope of beauty for eternity. Will it be easy? No. Will it be hard? Yes. This race is a long one. It's not a sprint but a marathon.
I would love to be able to see the end result, just a tiny glimpse of the future to see how this present problem turns out. Since that doesn't seem to happen, I have to believe and have faith in my God that He does in fact know what He is doing.
I can't look back, those cities are burned. The land in front of me is bountiful and is ready to be explored.
We can't look back.
Don't look back.
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