Thursday, January 14, 2010

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - Don't Look Back!

One of my favorite things to do is to look at family photo albums. Recently I found myself watching videos of my kids when they were little. A blonde brown-eyed 4 year old boy dressed in his Buzz Lightyear jammies with a Bibleman cape and mask, running around fighting evil with his light saber and a toe-head, brown-eyed 2 year old girl, dressed in every piece of dress up clothing she owned, singing in front of the mirror. Looking back, those days seemed to be more simple, yet it was probably during one of the most challenging seasons of our life. We had just moved back to California to plant a church, we were living by faith financially and we were in the early stages of raising our children.

Reading the story of Lot and his family leaving Sodom and Gomorrah reminded me of the importance of why we should not look back. In Genesis 19, God is angry with the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The night that He was ready to destroy everything in those cities, he sent two angels to rescue Lot and his family. Think about how they must have felt when they are told to leave immediately.

Let's look at Lot's wife. Not much is mentioned about her. She doesn't even have a name. It's not recorded in scripture whether or not her homeland was either of those cities. What was she thinking when she is suddenly faced with a move? And a big one at that, they aren't sure where they are going to go, except to the mountains. Genesis 19:15-17 says "With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, "Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished." 16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, "Flee for your lives! Don't look back, and don't stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!" I'm sure Lot's wife was pretty angry and afraid at this sudden relocation. I wonder if that is why they were told to flee to the mountains so that they had a destination to focus on. Think about it, the mountains are unlevel ground and you have pay attention to what is in front of you rather than behind you.

Like any husband who see's his wife's grief and senses her wrath, he makes a compromise with the two angels. Genesis 19:18-21 says, "But Lot said to them, "No, my lords, please! 19 Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can't flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I'll die. 20 Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn't it? Then my life will be spared." 21 He said to him, "Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. 22 But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it." (That is why the town was called Zoar. )" If Lot had been obedient to the first command, he may have still had a wife.

The passage goes on to say, " 23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the LORD out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt." (Genesis 19:23-26) Why did she turn into a pillar of salt? As I read this, I wondered if she was a bitter woman. Have you ever over salted your food? As much taste as a little salt adds, it can also ruin a dish that has too much salt. I wonder what was going through her mind as she looked back. Was she filled with anger and resentment. Could she have been angry at the evil that had not only been going on daily, but even the fact of the events of that night with her husband offering her daughters to the men to be raped. Was she torn that she had to leave possibly the only place she'd ever known. Maybe she was mad at God that He didn't spare every family member. There are dozens of reasons as what Lot's wife was recalling in her mind as she looked back. Nonetheless, she disobeyed the command of the angels and therefore turned into a pillar of salt. She died literally a bitter woman.

Philippians 3:13 & 14 says, "Brothers (sisters) I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." I believe Lot's wife's story is a visual of why Paul tells us to press on. Don't stop in the town of Zoar when God has told you to go to the mountains. Do get stuck dwelling on the past, the things that truly are behind you now. Jesus is our focal point and we need to keep looking to him. Proverbs 4:25 says, "Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.". So often I hear the phrase, "your best days are in front of you." Even if you had a life that was good, Ecclesiastes 7:10 tells us not to long for the good ole' days.

Personally, I must confess that I "retain a little water on some days, due to the fact there is too much salt in my system," meaning I sometimes look back. As much as I don't want to, or don't want to admit, I do. So many unanswered questions that may never have answers. Why do I continue to live turned around when clearly the Lord is telling me not to look back but to move forward. To go to the mountains and not stop in Zoar. When our spiritual life has taken in too much salt we can get stuck in the plains of life. Hmm, when we are in the plain days of life we think by adding salt we flavor it up. Instead, we end up over salting and can become bitter.

It reminds me of the worship song "Moving Forward." The chorus says this, "I'm not going back. I'm moving ahead. I'm here to declare, in You old things are made new. Surrender my life to Christ. I'm moving moving forward." I want to challenge us today to help keep each other accountable in this area of being too "salty." As sisters in the Lord, I pray that we will be like those angels of the Lord to each other and take each other by the hand and lead us to the "mountain" where the Lord wants to meet us. Just like He met Moses on the mountain top. So we may experience His glory not turn into a pillar of salt.