Lot and his family had taken the ‘best’ land to live in (Look and Go!), yet they had ended up in the city of Sodom. How they got there I don’t know, but I can relate. Sometimes I set out for one place but end up somewhere else – I’m not talking about getting physically lost, but getting lost emotionally or spiritually. I aim for one thing but end up in the midst of something else due to the subtlety of slightly twisted thinking and poor management of said thinking. Anyway, Lot and his family are in the city that GOD is about to destroy for its horrendous lifestyle, behaviour and depravity. But GOD does not forget them.
When Abraham had been talking with GOD and interceeding for the people of the city, asking GOD for mercy, I wonder if he knew that his family were in that city. GOD agreed with Abraham and would spare the city for the sake of 10 righteous people … but there were only four in Lots family. However, GOD did not forget them. It feels like He answered an unasked prayer.
The men – or as we know, angels – that GOD sent into the city found Lot and told him to leave the city with his family. Lot tries to encourage his sons-in-law who were pledged to his daughters to leave with them but they think that he is joking, so only Lot, his wife and their two daughters leave the city under the urging of the angels.
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!”
In his hesitation, the angel grasped his hand and led him to safety. This was the mercy of GOD. This is the same GOD of today. When I hesitate he grasps my hand. Have you ever read the Footprints poem by Mary Stevenson? It is beautiful … but not how life feels when you are the one hesitating to follow GOD’s lead.
I find that GOD often grasps my hand and leads me, sometimes I go willingly and other times I hesitate … and protest … and dig my heels in … and shout at Him … BUT He does not let go. He knows that I need to to be somewhere else, He knows the best place for me to live. He will not leave my side and will do the most loving thing and drag me if need be as the best type of friend I have. This story in Genesis 19 feels a bit like GOD dragging Lot and his family out of the city.
The instruction to not look back is firm and commanding. GOD wants us to look forward, to see the adventure and promise. He doesn’t want us to be stuck in the past. He has dealt with that. All the mistakes, all the wrong turns, all the rubbish decisions and failings … He says look forward and flee to the mountain or you will be swept away.
I have had seasons where I have spent far too long wallowing in the past. The warning in the story is that by looking back you will stop moving and turn into a pillar of salt, you will stop living and become immobile and useless. There is nothing I can do about the things that have happened, but I can choose to change my thinking. I can either let those things fester and become poison to my soul or I can let them be eaten by worms to produce mulch for better things to grow. It is a decision to not look back, a choice to look forward. It isn’t always easy, but take hold of those thoughts and habits, put them behind you and face forward once again.
Recently, my husband took me to Snowdon. I have been twice before but have never climbed it. I wanted to climb the mountain but thought that due to health issues I would never make it. He said that we would go as far as I could. When we began it was hot and busy, my knees hurt and I was out of breath. We reached a certain point in the climb where I could either turn back, choose a different route or continue. The second path that would lead us back down the mountain was starting to fill with cloud and looked dangerous. If I continued, I knew that I would still climb through cloud but I could choose to come down by another route rather than the dangerous one. My husband would say to me to get to the next bend and see how I felt. Eventually, we got to the point where there really was no point in turning back, the top was too close to not continue. In the journey, there were the rewards for keeping moving forward. At every turn there was a different view be it open to bright sunlight or swathed in mist and cloud.
Of course, with a map you can see how close you are to the peak of the mountain, but imagine giving up just before you got to the top because you kept looking back, thinking about what you would have to climb over or not knowing how close to the summit you were. What a waste of time and effort.
Maybe it is the time for you to remember that you have someone grasping your hand, leading you up a mountain and giving you something to look forward to. Maybe you are near the summit … don’t give up! He is merciful to you, He grasps your hand and leads you to safety, He wants you to focus forward.
Happy journeying! Katy x