18 April 2011

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts ~ Thankful for lessons learned from Lot's wife...

In that day,
he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house,
let him not come down to take it away:
and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.
Remember Lot's wife.
Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it;
and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.Luke 17.31-33

One of the deacons was preaching at church last Sunday - God had impressed upon his heart to share truth (from Luke 18) regarding the manner or the attitude with which we are to draw near to God. (Our church theme for the entire year is James 4:8.) Sometimes, paying attention in the heat, during the Zarma translation moments, is hard - though I do try, or else I'll never learn this language. But it often leaves my head spinning or even physically hurting and sometimes, I let my mind wander. That happened last Sunday. As my mind wandered, my eyes jumped the page and landed on the above verses and the three word sentence, "Remember Lot's wife," captured my thoughts for several minutes then... and then continued to monopolize my conversations with the Lord over the next several days... Romans 15.4 teaches that things were "written in earlier times," and that they were ..."written for [my] instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures [I] might have hope." (Romans 15.4)

Why this command to remember Lot's wife? Hers was a tragic failure, heartbreaking if you think about where the responsibility for her failure lies... and how much her single wrong glance factored into subsequent events in the lives of her loved ones. I don't want to be like her, that's for sure. But I've never really just thought about her side of the story before - and the simple human tragedy of what happened. I've considered the influence of her husband's choices, the type of example he was and his spiritual leadership of their family; I've pondered how she let his leadership affect her priorities and decisions in life; I've prayed about the responsibility to obey regardless of what those around us do; I've even wondered if her daughters might have made different choices with a mother there to guide them...??? or if their actions showed what they'd "caught" from her?

This time, however, instead of trying to find lessons, I simply wondered... and listened...

and kept returning to the three words: "Remember Lot's wife..."
What if she wasn't, as I've always just assumed, a "bad woman?"
  • What if she was an obedient, supportive, hard-working and faithful wife who followed her husband where he chose to lead?
  • What if, to others, she appeared a Proverbs 31 woman? Lot obviously knew he could unexpectedly invite strangers to spend the night - leading me to think she could have been known for her hospitality.
  • What if she gently forgave him for moving her to an immoral, materialistic city that was soon sacked, overturned by enemies... and then she and her children were hauled off as prisoners of war?
  • What if she persistently fought a battle it felt she'd already lost, seeking to teach her girls to obey and honor their father in a world where that was not the norm?
  • What if she deeply loved some of her friends and neighbors in the city and had finally grown to love the life that she and Lot had built together in Sodom?
  • What if she was thinking of lovely memories and remembering miracles that God had performed?
  • What if she didn't even have the chance to say goodbye?
  • What if she couldn't understand why God was uprooting their family yet again on the advice of two strangers to whom she'd opened her home the night before?
  • What if she was frustrated with her middle-aged husband for rushing her out of town in what seemed a reactive, impulsive and ungrateful turning his back on God's previous provisions just to look toward new horizons and distant mountains?
  • What if she'd heard and understood the command, but it was so hard to obey and so she figured that God's infinite grace would be sufficient once again as she glanced back one last time at all He'd just commanded her to leave?

  • What if Lot's wife was a woman who struggled, though she wanted to walk in faith that she'd see in the family of her husband's uncle?
  • What if she was a woman who never really allowed a relationship with God to develop independently of what her husband told, taught and insisted?

So many possible what ifs... including...

What if I'm a lot more like Lot's wife than I'd ever care to admit... on some level, I can see that I share many of the same struggles she might have faced?

Why wasn't His grace there that one more time?

What does God think of me even asking such a question?

I don't know...

...but I do know a few impressions imprinted on my heart as I've looked at the example of Lot's wife:
  1. Her name is never mentioned... in fact, there is very little information at all given about her. Maybe that is so it becomes easier to identify with her, to take to heart the admonition of "Remember[ing] Lot's wife..". and all of the thoughts the Holy Spirit calls to mind resulting from that act of remembering?
  2. Thankfulness... the act of giving thanks in all things... in and of itself can become an idol, as can the many things for which I am thankful ~ when I take my eyes off the Giver, start contemplating and/or rationalizing glances of disobedience and begin to worship provision rather than the Provider. I think that is a finer line to walk that I ever dreamed.
  3. I don't believe I can assume that I will or will not someday see Lot's wife worshipping in the presence of the Lord... before I always just assumed...
  4. God takes catastrophic events, my sin and somehow turns it for good. Lot's wife sinned. Her consequence was that she died immediately, turned to a pillar of salt. Pillars are often key components of monuments; God also commands us to be the salt of the earth... preserving... By her life and tragic death, her example can and does become a monument reminding, preserving, others... in fact, Jesus's very words after His command to remembering her:
"Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it;
and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it."

Can you still find the bird?

this week's gratitude list
(#'s 1002 -1036):

surprising new twists in old, well-worn stories

peeling back layers

that each layer is fresh and new and relevant and if I allow Him, life-changing

new lessons, fresh applications of God's Word to my life

the monumental, preserving power of salt

God's perspective is never skewed and His wisdom is always perfect
Dora coloring pages for my kindergartener

new recipes

seeing how intuitively she understands percentages and ratios... and works the problems faster than her mama teacher

that Nadia told me about the lizard hiding under the stove before it ran over my foot and scared me to death

algebra tutors

cracks in technology

opportunities to redeem time

cassette tape and people listening and God softening, changing hearts

grieving, even thought it hurts, even when it is without hope...

redefining urgent

whole wheat chocolate brown sugar cookies, covered with colored sprinkles

realizing that when our whole family works together for just 30 minutes worth of time, we accomplish nearly 5 hours worth of work

examples and stories written for my instruction "so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures [I] might have hope"


the hope of learning from example and not having to learn everything by the hard taskmaster of experience

found, recaptured and released super cute hedgehog named Spike who has provided much entertainment (and cleaned all sorts of icky out from under my oven for me - I much prefer prickles to scales...)

fresh, unprocessed honey

neighborhood children "sword" fighting with long & skinny bright pink & deep ocean blue balloons... it might have been the very first time they'd ever seen a balloon, judging from the looks on their faces

a picture to share so little Ismael will have at least a glimpse of who his daddy was

Thanks to Grandpa Gene for these photos. They seemed to fit, because just like Lot and his wife,
this little morning dove made a less than wise choice about a good place to live,
even though it first seemed protected from the elements and close to where provision would be plentiful.

so thankful that things aren't always as they seem and where nothing makes sense, God is

professional counsel and encouragement from a godly, mature woman

going barefoot after 4 o'clock

stretching out on a cool, tile floor on very hot afternoons

teen girls who are suprisingly willing and non-argumentative about changing their initial idea

hearing her acknowledge (that she even recognized it!), unprompted, her thankfulness to God for helping her to gently accept... knowing how she chose to thank God for His help... and just being amazed at how God spoke softly to both of us throughout the whole "incident"

"A si faala... amma Irikoy ga boori" - if I'm thinking I understand correctly... :-)

impromptu movie nights with friends that make my big girls smile

rice pudding on a Saturday morning

looking forward to heading to Niamey's best internet cafe Saturday morning with two who rank right up at or near the top when it comes to my favorite people

having so many favorites!

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