May 7, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Gary Chang, Gracepoint Davis

Genesis 19

In verses 23-26, what might have been the reason why Lot’s wife “looked back”?

As the commentary points out, Lot’s wife probably looked back because she was longing for the things and the life that she was leaving behind in Sodom.  Given the likely fact that Lot became well-to-do in Sodom, theirs was probably a materialistically rich and comfortable life, never mind the fact that they were living in the midst of sin and wickedness.  So as she was fleeing for her life, she at the same time really did not want to leave Sodom and her possessions, because it was so nice, so comfortable. . .

What warnings can I take from Let’s wife?

Naturally, Lot’s wife represents the tragedy of the those whose undoing was because of their longing for the life that they left behind.  As a Christian, I had to say goodbye to a lot of things that represented my former, atheistic life that I lived for twenty years.  I had to say goodbye to living a selfish and self-seeking life as I embraced the life of other-centeredness called by Christ.  I had to say goodbye to living for comfort and indulgence and prioritizing myself over others as I learned to embrace hard work in serving God and loving others and prioritizing others’ needs over my own.  In a way, as the life of following Christ can be hard at times because of its demands for me to die to the self and to sacrifice my time, energy, money, etc. for the cause of the Kingdom, it’s possible for me to have revisionist memories about the past life that I left behind and began to long for certain elements of that old life, such as the physical comfort that I indulged, having a lot more time on my hand, or even the fact that it was simpler because all I really cared about was myself.  So the warning from Lot’s wife is for me to never set my heart to long for what I left behind, because when I do that I end up choosing to disengage from reality and the present, and I can end up turning the worldliness that characterized my past life into an idol.  The end result can be a form of spiritual death for me, as my heart becomes no longer devoted to God and building up His community here.

 

What forms might “looking back” take for today’s followers of Christ?

–       They may include looking back at the career advancement or opportunities of such that I left behind, because I could have “made something of myself” or be successful instead of the dead-end job or the joblessness of my present situation.

–       They may include looking back at the kind of harmonious family relationship I once had before I became a Christian, when there was no conflict with my parents, or when my parents were not disappointed or grieved at me, because now as a Christian I have invited their disappointments, anger and grief into my life and it is hard!

–       They may include looking back at the laid back life I had in which I had a lot more time to do what I wanted to do instead of scrambling for time as I am doing now because of the busyness of ministry and serving the church.

In verse 29, how does Abraham’s relationship with God change the course of Lot’s life?

Because of Abraham’s relationship with God, Lot’s life ends up being saved.  Verse 29 tells us that when God destroyed the cities, he remembered Abraham and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe.

Reflect on the fact that God calls me to be like Abraham, to change the ultimate destiny of those around me.

God is calling me to be an intercessor and a minister for the many Lots around me.  When my relationship with God is strong, I can become a powerful intercessor for the Lots who do not know God or are far away from God, because as it says in James 5:16, the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.  And as one who knows God, one who has relationship with God, I am also called to share the love of God and witness to the people who do not know Him around me.  These people may be the people in my ministry in IGSM – the many Chinese students and scholars who have never been exposed to Christianity or heard the Gospel.  They may be people who are my family members, or people at my work, or even strangers with whom I got to engage in a spiritual conversation or shared my testimony.  The thing with being an Abraham to the Lots of my life is that I may not know until later how God has worked in this person’s life, and the reason for the change or transformation I find out later is traced back to me.  I may not get to witness how God used me to be a blessing to someone else, but that’s why it’s exciting to be used by God and that’s why it’s important for me to be faithful, because I just don’t know how God is going to use me!

 

As I was thinking about this question, I was reminded of my conversation with my old boss from the law firm earlier this afternoon.  Three years ago when his wife was diagnosed with cancer, I told him that people from our church are praying for her and I wrote him a card and gave him a Bible.  When his wife passed away, he shared with me that he was feeling angry toward God for just like this taking away the life of someone who was a “good person.”  At that time I shared with him about C.S. Lewis’ book, “A Grief Observed,” as this was something C.S. Lewis himself struggled with and ended up writing a book about. After I left that office to go to Taiwan, I really did not know what happened to my boss.  When I was in Taiwan, I got a surprising email from Richard Lin about how he bumped into my boss at a Christian worldview conference and learned that he became a church goer and even attended this conference.  Today when I talked with him, he shared that not only is he now a regular church goer, he also attends weekly Men’s Bible Study on Wednesday nights and has been attending other conferences with his church.  Recently he and his second wife even attended a China Mission Conference in Philadelphia.  He told me that he “has a lot of years to make up” with God.  He also told me that he is now using the Bible I gave him at the Bible studies and thanked me.  As I was thinking about how I can be an Abraham to the Lots in my life, the transformation of my boss came to mind.  Really at the time I did not know whether my praying for him, giving him a Bible, writing him a card, and so on would make any difference in his life, but I just trusted God because He calls for me to love those in need.  And three years later I rejoice and praise God for how He used me to change the ultimate destiny of my boss’ life.

 

In verses 30-38, reflect on Lot’s decisions, values and his outer and inner journeys.

Lot’s life is an classic example of how sin snowballs and brings a person farther than he ever wanted to go.  In the beginning, Lot was not this pathetic, drunken figure living in a cave and engaging in incestuous relationship with his daughters.  He was the rich nephew to Abraham who made the wrong choice of choosing to live in the land where Sodom and Gomorrah lied and pitched his tent near Sodom.  The beginning seemed like such a trivial case and innocent decision, yet that is exactly how sin works.  The beginning was always some small compromise or small temptation that may seem “harmless,” but to the person making that compromise there was nevertheless that moment of personal decision of choosing to do that which the person knows in his heart would be “kind of inappropriate.”  Like when Lot decided to pitch his tent near Sodom, he must have known about the ill repute of the city.  Such decisions would be made, and the invisible boundary line toward being ensnared by sin would be crossed, when the person’s value is that God’s commands and instructions are ultimately negotiable and conditional rather than some absolute that I should observe by.  And when at each juncture such value and decision is made, the person will find himself sinking deeper and deeper in sin, and his heart ore and more ensnared by it.  Like Lot, we see such a person moving from pitching his tent near Sodom, to moving into Sodom, to becoming a person of stature and position in Sodom, and ultimately he became Sodom as he finds himself without moral authority before himself or other people and engages in drunken incest while living a life of hiddenness and darkness and isolation in some cave.

 

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