Monday, November 14, 2011

Uncertain Motives


"But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt." Genesis 19:26

Uncertain Motives
By Rev. William Dohle

There is one question I will never have answered adequately enough. It confronts me daily almost, in every encounter with every person.

That question is: Why?

Why... do people act the way they do?
Why... did they choose this over that?
Why... must you suffer in that way?
Why?

My need to understand the motivations behind behaviors confronts me too in Scripture. For instance, in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah...

Why... did God destroy Sodom again?
Why... didn't Abraham ask for the WHOLE city to be saved?
Why... isn't God merciful in this case?

And most of all...
Why... does Lot's wife look back the way she did?

This last question has always fascinated me. Why DID Lot's wife look back?

Was she disobedient to God's command... as some claim she was.
Did she wish she was back in Sodom with her friends?
Did she just forget?

Why did Lot's wife turn back?

That question we'll never know the answer to. But there is one possible explanation I like. It tells of Lot's two other daughters, both married, who were stuck in Sodom at the time of its destruction. Lot's wife, remembering her other children were suffering in the city, turns back in grief. Her grief is so great that it turns her into one big tear, one large pillar of salt.

I wonder if we, being in her shoes, would have done the same. Would we have pressed our eyes firmly toward the uncertain future that God had for us? Or would we take a glance backward, maybe more than a glance in that general direction, distracting ourselves from the future God has planned and promised with the suffering that was behind us? Would we have the faith to see what we still had or would we focus instead on what we lost?

Ironically, when faced with turning his back on the destruction of others or pressing onward, God himself in Jesus Christ turns back to us. And not only that but Jesus doesn't just turn back to look at our suffering, but enters into the burning city of Lot himself, marking himself with our death, carrying us on his shoulders out through the flames of wrath, to life eternal with him. So that, in Jesus Christ, we are not pillars of salt, turned toward the suffering world, but salt itself, full of the taste and smell of our loving God!

Gracious and merciful God, as you did not leave this suffering world but gave your life up for it, may we too turn back toward the suffering of others, that we, filled with your grace, might give a taste of your mercy and love, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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