There’s a lot to learn from Lot!
Genesis 19:16, 18 & 19
”When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the LORD was merciful.” Here’s a short story synopsis. The city is destroyed by fire. There are no other survivors. Lot and his family are saved only because the angels grabbed their hands and pulled them out of their indecision.
Isn’t that how we respond when we first hear of God’s plans? We stand with our feet firmly planted in the place we know. The place that seems safe. We have lived there so long change seems way to risky. Besides, that place has become home. Oh, the paint is peeling, the cracks are emerging, and maybe its even sparking a few flames, but we’ve built our lives there. Our comfort zone. We know it’s not perfect. We know there’s a possibility of something better, but then again there could be something worse. So we get stuck. We accept the unacceptable because no one likes moving. If you are like me you realize that the new place will require you to change into a new life. And honestly we just can’t see what that looks like, so we hesitate.
Once Lot and his wife and daughters are practically dragged out of the city the angels tell them to run for their lives and don’t look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Lot’s response echoes his fear of the unknown. “Oh no, my lord! Lot begged. You have been so gracious to me and saved my life, and you have shown such great kindness. But, I cannot go to the mountains. Disaster would catch up to me there, and I would soon die.” Lot begs the angels to let them stay in a village nearby. He says thanks for saving my life, but the mountains are not the place for me.
At first glance, I think Lot is a little bit wimpy. Angels just pulled him from a burning city, why wouldn’t he trust their directions? But, aren’t we a lot like Lot? When God takes our hand and pulls us away from the old life strewn with stumbling and ashes we beg to stay in the valley. We know we barely escaped. We know God drew us out just in time. But standing that close to God makes us acutely aware of how we came out of that burning city with ash still clinging to our faces. We recognize we are not ready for mountain-top living. Mountain-top living that exposes us to the presence of God.
So we stand at the edge of the old life barely a step or two away. Just in case this new life gets too hard, we want the option of going back. Even if it means going back to a pile of ashes.
God tells us to go, run for your life from these choices you are making because devastation will follow. We turn and go but just far enough to clear immediate danger.
We bargain with God, just as Lot does. We live marginally obedient lives and miss the mountain-top moments.
Lot asked the angels to allow him to go to a small village instead of the mountains. He begs, “please let me go there instead, don’t you see how small it is?” He would rather live small, than live obedient.
Do we recognize our own lives in this story? Is it possible to look around at our small living and see the reality? Living small keeps us believing we are in control. We’d rather live small than risk reliant obedience.
My friends, obedience requires daring dependence. When God says run for your life, don’t look back, don’t stop anywhere in the valley he means it for our safety. We have somehow convinced ourselves living small keeps us safe.
Lot reached the village just as the sun was rising over the horizon. I wonder if he stood in wonder at God’s mercy toward him as he watched the beginning of a new day. He had lost so much. But God had spared his life and the life of his daughters. He and his little family were the sole survivors of the destruction of his city. But the question hanging in the air full of smoke and ash was whether this would lead to a soul revival for them.
God will wait. He wants us to hurry. He wants us to escape. He will send angels to pull us from the fire. But he leaves it up to us to decide how far we will follow him. I imagine him standing with open arms calling to us. Hurry! Hurry to the mountain top!
He knows the obedience to move toward the new beginning requires daring dependence. He didn’t leave us alone in the climb. Jesus stood on a hill reaching out his hand ready to help us over the steep place. The Holy Spirit helps us step over the hurdles where fear blocks our way. He promises he will never leave us.
I’m thinking we might just find this climb breathtaking, our hearts alive, wondering why we took so long to get to the mountain top. Oh, I know there will be moments when we look around and wonder if we can take just one more step. Because let’s be honest here, we can’t see what’s around the next bend in the road and that makes us uncomfortable. But, what if we start the new day convinced it’s not just a matter of sole survival, it’s a matter of soul revival? Would it be worth the risk?
I confess I am a lot like Lot. But I have an advantage. Because I know the love of Jesus I’m willing to risk the climb. One step at a time.