I was torn this week, because I felt like I needed to write three blogs. Usually God leads me straight to the topic and audience He wants me to write to, and that’s what I do. This week though, He led me to write to three different groups of people—so naturally I thought He meant I needed to write three blogs. However, as I got deeper into the story of Lot’s wife and really broke it down, I realized that all of these groups needed to hear the same ending; they were just in different seasons and needed three separate beginnings. So this is going to split off in a little while, and you pick the part that seems to fit to the season you’re in, and then we’ll all come back together for the big finale.
To preface, we know nothing of Lot’s wife, not even her name. Each time she is mentioned in Scripture, she’s just called “Lot’s wife.” No name, no people group to identify with, no family lineage—nothing. Maybe it’s because women didn’t have value in the period of the Old Testament. Or maybe it’s just because her identity isn’t crucial to the story. In my opinion, it’s because she never has a chance to become who she was purposed to become. As you’ll see, Lot’s wife died before she could ever experience the fullness of God’s promises. We never hear about her personal life because her sin and doubt don’t allow her to step into God’s personal story for her.
What we know of Lot is enough to tell us how his wife’s life unfolded. Lot was in the lineage of Abraham, and his venture into the city of Sodom was slow. He set up camp facing the city, and the next thing we hear, he is one of the city’s leaders—he sits by the city gates all day, a position held by the officials and important people. Lot, however, didn’t live the sinful lifestyle that the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah did. Lot was the one righteous man in the city, and, because of that, he was spared when God destroyed Sodom because of the sins of its inhabitants.
The Bible says nothing about the righteousness of Lot’s wife, however. When the story reaches its climax and Lot’s family is being escorted out of the city by the angels of God, she hesitates. She looks back for a fleeting moment, wondering what her new life will be, wondering why she can’t stay in the city that has become her home. She ignores the angels warning against turning around and sees the wrath of God descending on the city. Because of her disobedience, she is turned into a pillar of salt. She becomes a monument of unbelief.
So, sweet reader, here we go.
To the woman who has become comfortable:
Comfort will be our downfall. We are never promised a comfortable life when we follow Christ, which is why our flesh craves stability and security so desperately. Comfort is the opposite of everything we are promised.
Lot’s wife was comfortable. Whether she knew it or not, she had allowed the sin-filled life of the people of Sodom to creep into her own life. Isn’t that like so many of us? We encounter culture (and the sin that pervades it) every day. Even if we don’t partake, if we are numb to the sin around us, we have deemed it acceptable. How many of us have stopped caring about the morality of abortion just because we heard about it every day after the Planned Parenthood scandal? How many of us have decided that homosexual marriage is ok, because “We can’t choose someone else’s life,” or “It doesn’t affect me” or “It’s none of my business as long as they’re happy.”
Lot’s wife may not have actively participated in the sinful lifestyle available to her in Sodom, but we do know that she hesitated when she was leaving it. We know that when she was being offered an out, when she was being taken from the sin that should have disgusted her, she hesitated. In a moment of weakness, she looked back at the city that had become her home, looked back at familiarity and comfort, and she was gone in an instant.
To the woman who didn’t choose her circumstances:
Can we blame Lot, her husband? If you want to place the blame on someone, he sure seems like a worthy candidate. He allowed his wife and daughters to live amongst the sins of the people of Sodom. The thing is, we can’t keep blaming the people around us for our sins. Our complacency and tendency to turn a blind eye is just as bad as the sins of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Some of you, though, haven’t chosen to live in your own Sodom in the first place. Is your boss asking you to things that aren’t ethical, but your paycheck makes you happy? Are you the only Christian in your home, but you can’t figure out how to love your family without falling into sin? What about those friends that live ungodly lifestyles, but always make you feel accepted? Sometimes the reality of life sucks. There isn’t a poetic way to word that, or something I can say to make it better. Reality hits, and it sucks. But you don’t have to stay there. Lot’s wife easily could have spoken up; she could have been the first one out the city gates. But she hesitated. Don’t hesitate because you love your circumstances or the people around you. The cross is worth so much more than the sin you are unwillingly surrounded by.
To the woman who can’t stop looking back:
Condemnation and conviction are two different things. Condemnation is shame. Shame tells us about our shortcomings and points us back to our sin nature. Condemnation tells us that we were wrong and there’s no hope for us. Conviction is from God. It points us to the cross. Conviction also tells us that our choices were wrong, but it offers hope if we turn away from the convicting sin.
The more women I meet, the more stories I hear of women stuck in patterns of sin and shame. Lot’s wife looked back because she was afraid. She was afraid of what was before her. She was afraid of the unknown. For many of you, shame is all you’ve ever known. You can’t look forward because you have believed a lie that God is mad at you. I was you. When I first started walking with God, I believed that I couldn’t fully experience Jesus because I was a sinner, and I should be ashamed of what I had done. Sweet, sweet reader, you have to look forward. You are worthy of looking forward because what Jesus did on the cross qualified you to experience the fullness of God.
The big finale:
Can we agree to stop looking back together? Can we agree to leave the sin we never chose and stop accepting this world the way it is? Let’s decide right now to let God take hold of the things that could cause us to look back. Let’s decide right now to keep our gaze on Jesus. Even when we stumble, even when we are fleeing the destruction of the only life we have ever known, let’s keep turning our gaze upwards to heaven. Next, we have to decide to believe. In her three seconds of hesitation, of uncertainty, Lot’s wife was turned into a monument of unbelief. That’s not how I want to be remembered. I want to be remembered as a woman who rose above, as a woman who spoke out, as a woman who constantly had her gaze turned towards Jesus and the hope of the cross. What about you?