“The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.“ – Genesis 19: 23-26.
The story of Lot’s wife is a familiar one to those who grew up in the church. If you have not heard the story, you can find it in Genesis Chapter 19. The Reader’s Digest version is God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, but angels warn Lot. Genesis 19:15 says, “As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” And then in verse 17: ”And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” But we know that Lot’s wife did look back and was turned into a pillar of salt.
The Bible doesn’t answer or indicate why Lot’s wife looked back. We can only speculate. Maybe she looked back because she longed for what she left behind. Or maybe she was looking back because she didn’t know what she was looking forward to?
It is easy to let the uncertainty distract us from moving forward. Having said that, it is hard to understand why she didn’t. Whatever God had planned for her future was a lot better than what God had just rescued her from. God saved her and her family from total destruction. Anything was better than being stuck in that city while fire shot down from the sky.
Again, we don’t know why she looked back. Maybe it was her possessions that held her heart and kept her from fully embracing the deliverance she was offered. Maybe her life was defined by materialism. And when she lost those possessions, she lost her way. That may not be the case, but it has application in our lives. If we focus on the treasure of this world, we will not be focused on what matters most.
In full disclosure, I get it. It is easy to become attached to things in our life, whether it be routine, a status or a title, or wealth. The same tragedy that happened to Lot’s wife is the same tragedy that happens to us when we are always longing for material things. The tragedy is all that we are missing out on in this life because we are too busy hanging onto something that makes us feel good, or that makes us feel important, but does not matter in the context of eternity.
Randy Alcorn, in Money, Possessions and Eternity says, “God comes right out and tells us why he gives us more money than we need. It’s not so we can find more ways to spend it. It’s not so we can indulge ourselves and spoil our children. It’s not so we can insulate ourselves from needing God’s provision. It’s so we can give and give generously.” (2 Corinthians 8:14; 9:11)
- Would you say you look back or look forward more often?
- What in your life would prompt you to look back rather than ahead?
- Read 2 Corinthians 8:14 and 2 Corinthians 9:11: what are these verses telling you?
- Pray and ask God to help you focus on eternity.