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Devotional: May 21, 2020

“All right, Lot. If you insist. I’ll let you have your way. And I won’t stamp out the town you’ve spotted. But hurry up. Run for it! I can’t do anything until you get there.”

That’s why the town was called Zoar, that is, Smalltown.

The sun was high in the sky when Lot arrived at Zoar.

Then God rained brimstone and fire down on Sodom and Gomorrah—a river of lava from God out of the sky!—and destroyed these cities and the entire plain and everyone who lived in the cities and everything that grew from the ground.

But Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt.

Abraham got up early the next morning and went to the place he had so recently stood with God. He looked out over Sodom and Gomorrah, surveying the whole plain. All he could see was smoke belching from the Earth, like smoke from a furnace.

Genesis 19: 21-28 The Message

Several days ago, on May 18th, we observed the 40th anniversary of the eruption of Mount Saint Helens. Almost all who were old enough to remember it and lived in the Pacific Northwest have vivid memories of the eruption. It was so sudden, and so violent, and deadly to those who were caught in its path.


The obliteration of Sodom and Gomorrah, described in Genesis 19, sounds very similar to Mt. St. Helen. Although Sodom and Gomorrah were leveled, the scriptures focus mainly on how God saved Abraham’s nephew Lot from the destruction.


Lot was a resident of the cities, and was warned by angels to get out before it was too late. The angels encouraged Lot and his family to flee as fast as he possibly could, and to not look back. He did so, and was saved. Unfortunately, Lot’s wife did not heed the angel’s words. She looked back, and was turned into a pillar of salt.


I am told that some who escaped the eruption of Mount Saint Helens were able to do so because they literally raced down the road. They did not take time to look back, or even to take pictures. Their instincts told them that this was an emergency, literally a matter of life and death.


Lot’s wife serves as a reminder to all of us about the dangers of spending too much time dwelling on the past. It is good to hold on to some memories and reflect upon them. However, they should not consume our lives. We cannot live in the past. God emphasizes how we are to remember the scriptures, and to reflect upon God’s law, and His mercy. If we spend too much time gazing in our rear-view mirror, we can miss the opportunities God has right in front of us, in the present. Life is to be lived looking forward.


Perhaps the Apostle Paul offers the best antidote for paralyzing nostalgia. He writes,

Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

So, let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us.

Philippians 3: 13-15 The Message


Ultimately, those who keep looking back longingly are lost, while those who look ahead to Christ are saved. The choice is ours…

Prayer

God of our salvation,

Thank you for Your mercy, and Your forgiveness. Help us to look forward to your goals for us, even as we live in a fallen world. May we never fall for the siren songs of the world, which lead us away from you, ultimately to our destruction. Instead, help us to press on towards our goal: loving You, and loving our neighbors, each and every day. May we always seek You first in our lives. We pray this prayer in Jesus’ name.

Amen.


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