I’ve always been both fascinated and horrified by the story of Lot’s wife. For those of you who don’t remember the story (Genesis 19), God allows Lot and his family to flee the city of Sodom before it is destroyed, but they are warned not to look back. Lot’s wife looks back, someone had to do it, and she’s turned into a pillar of salt.
As a kid, this story really freaked me out. One mistake. No second chances. No grace. Pillar of salt.
As an adult, I’ve come to suspect that Lot’s wife did it to herself. Things had been going downhill in Sodom for a long time. It was not a nice place and the destruction was coming, but God gave her a chance to escape. He gave her an opportunity for a new beginning. Instead of moving boldly toward, she looked back.
It doesn’t say so, but I suspect this wasn’t a simple glance. This was someone whose focus was on the ‘then’ vs the ‘now.’
How often do we do this to ourselves? Whether the problem is flagging membership in the contemporary church, the effectiveness of our schools, or gun violence, we go on and on about how things used to be.
I didn’t realize how debilitating this could be until my son said something the other day. “When people go on about how bad the schools are, and they’re talking about my school, or how pathetic the church is, and this is the church I go to, they make me feel awful. I’m there. I’m doing my best, but somehow I’m not good enough. I’m not giving up on them but they’re pissing me off.”
He wasn’t talking about people who aren’t part of the school or part of the church. He was talking about people on the inside. Instead of looking for a way to blossom and grow, like Lot’s wife, we look back. Do it too long and we’ll be stuck that way.
It isn’t an easy habit to break, but it helps that I live with a teenager. With some serious eye rolling on his part, I manage to get myself turned around and looking for the Path that will lead me to where God would have me go, the path to a new tomorrow.