Don’t look back!

I’m always intrigued with the Bible’s many stories, for their lessons never lose their edge or relevance. That’s one reason I like to work through the whole Bible each year. There are lots of really good stories.

One I read last week was about Lot and his little family escaping from Sodom, which is about to be destroyed (Genesis 19). They barely make it out, and must hurry, for the city’s destruction is imminent, and to avoid the same fate, they must leave their home quickly and escape to another place.

The angels have to take them by the hand and drag them away from their home and their city, urging them to flee. They had one command, “Don’t stop to look back.”

This was more than just a good piece of advice. For Lot’s wife, following after him reluctantly, does stop, turns to look, and immediately becomes a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26). Ouch. I’m sure she didn’t see that coming.

That would be the end of it, and there we would have just another one of those fascinating stories, were it not for the fact that Jesus uses Lot’s wife as a sermon illustration.

In His answering questions about the last of the last days, Jesus says that things will be much like they were in Sodom, with the wicked preoccupied with daily activity, and, like the unsuspecting people in Sodom, they will be destroyed (Luke 17:28-30).

He adds that then it will be too late to worry over your possessions, for it’s time to go! Don’t try to gather things for the journey. There’s no time for that. Just go!

Then He adds, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Now that’s sobering. So the story is more than a subject for a VBS group, more than just an historical incident. Yes, her example is one we dare not repeat.

How do we apply this story to ourselves? There probably are many ways, but there are good reasons not to look back on the life we left behind in order to follow Jesus.

Lot’s wife looked back with longing, thinking that God was not doing good for her by making her family leave. She could not imagine a better life or better future for her daughters. She was not walking by faith, and could not even keep the simple command, “Don’t look back,” even if it cost her life.

Most people will not have the experience of escaping for their physical lives, but we all have the temptation to think that somehow, with Jesus, we are going to miss something. The old friends, the old ways, the old, familiar customs that were so much a part of our “old life.”

Jesus’ point, among other things, reminds us that longing for our sinful past is not the way forward and into a future with Him. While the old life may have had many pleasures, they were fleeting and often sinful. In the end, we give up nothing but heartache and regret when we walk with Jesus, who offers and indeed, guarantees, eternal joy.

“You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy,
at your right hand are pleasures evermore.”
Psalm 16:11

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