“When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.”
And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.
So it came to pass when they had brought them outside, that he said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.”-Genesis 19:15-17
When I was younger, I used to wonder what Lot’s wife’s last thought was before she turned to a pillar of salt.
All she wanted was one look, whether it was curiosity or grief over the life she was leaving behind, she glanced over her shoulder and was immediately punished for her choice to disobey and look back.
Before she looked back, did she feel the heat on her back from the fire?
Did she hear screams? The sound of a city being rained on with fire and brimstone cannot be pleasant.
All it took was one look back for her to never come back.
In Exodus 14, we see the Israelites finally leaving Egypt led by Moses, they’re finally free from the suffering they endured at the hands of the Egyptians.
Then, comes the dust rising in the distance.
What’s that sound? The sound of six hundred chariots racing towards them, hooves pounding the ground.
The sound of Pharaoh’s heart hardening, as he sends an army to recapture the Israelites.
Much like Lot’s wife, the people forgot to not look back.
“And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord.
Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.””-Exodus 14:10-12
Moses reassures the people that God is with them and He will fight for them, and they kept going forward.
Fast-forward a few chapters, things got harder for them, they were tired and hungry, how could they not look back?
“And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.””-Exodus 16:3
They lost their perspective on how far they had gotten.
Sometimes things get worse before they get better.
I felt like I lost so much when I became a Christian, so many old friends stopped talking to me or the friendships just weren’t the same because I had changed so much. I gave up my pride and admitted that I was wrong about pretty much everything. It was a hard transition.
There’s a saying I heard once, and I remember liking it a lot when I was younger, and I used to say it to myself whenever I missed the congregation I had spent the majority of my childhood in, and it went something like this:
“The good ole days… but when you really look back, you realize they weren’t so good.”
You know when things are just so bad that you have to make the mediocre good in your mind in order to cope?
Then, you get out of those bad situations, and the change and uncertainty of it all rattles you, and you look back and you remember the mediocre that you changed to gold in your mind, and you start to romanticize the past.
Maybe what I left wasn’t that bad, you start to think.
I could have fixed it.
I should have just lowered my standards and accepted it.
It wasn’t that bad.
And with those doubts, you look back.
With bittersweet things like walking away from things no longer meant for you, too often we forget that there’s a sweet that comes after the bitter.
I don’t know about you, but in so many areas I am bad at glancing back over my shoulder.
They weren’t real friends, but at least I used to have a group I felt like I truly belonged in as long as I just ignored everything else.
He wasn’t the one, but he liked me, what if no one ever likes me again?
I know that wasn’t the truth, but it’s so hard, I wish I could just go back and stop feeling so isolated.
In so many things and ways, I often feel lost, and I fight the urge to look back, ran back to the familiar, but I’m not lost, I just simply haven’t reached my destination yet, and that’s ok.
I think about the words Moses said to the people of Israel as the chariots approached and fear seized their hearts as the past seemed so much stronger than the future:
““Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.””-Exodus 14:13-14
Do not be afraid.
Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.
The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.
What beautiful words.
Don’t be afraid. Stand still. See.
See that God’s plan for you is greater than anything you could possibly come up with yourself.
Are you obeying Him and His word?
Are you where you should be?
Or are you looking back, holding onto a past that you have been called out of, or one that was simply never for you.
Another account in the Bible of someone, who, like Lot’s wife and like the Isrealites, looked back. And like Lot’s wife, he stayed back, and how heartbreaking it is to read about someone who just couldn’t let go.
“And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”-Luke 9:57-62
Just like other situations, when you become a Christian, you are called to be transformed (Romans 12), you are called into newness of life (Romans 6:4), the old life is behind you.
So, if you’re reading this and feeling discouraged and tired after pressing onward in order to obey God and His word in whatever aspect of your life, I have three words for you:
Don’t look back.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”-2 Corinthians 5:17