But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. Genesis 19:26
The story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah depicts the full wrath of God as it was poured out on those who chose not to accept His grace and mercy. Repentance was far from the people’s hearts as they refused to acknowledge and turn from their wicked ways.
Abraham, introducing the power of intercessory prayer, attempted to change God’s mind (God’s mind can change, but His character forever remains the same) and spare the city if righteous people could be found. However, even Abraham’s influence was not enough for God’s perfect justice to be served.
Many lessons can be gleaned from the words of Genesis 19. God’s abundant mercy and justice are very evident. God plainly displays His love for His people and His intolerance for unrepented sin. The fact God allows man’s freewill to take precedent over His own heart speaks volumes about the character of the God we serve.
Through all of that, there is one aspect of the story that is often not seen in its fullness. Remember Genesis 19:26 tells us, “But Lot’s Wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.”
What an image these words have seared in the minds of believers. We can all picture a pillar of salt in the form of a woman whose head is thrown back as she strained to allow her eyes – and heart – one last look at her old life. The angels guiding the group away from the destruction implored them not to ‘look back’, yet even the prodding of angels could not deter one fleeting glance toward the dying city.
Lot’s wife paid for her disobedience with her life. With that one look, she was turned into a pillar of salt instantly.
It is interesting to note that salt has been used as a preservative for centuries because of its ability to draw water out of cells via the process of osmosis. When water is removed from the cells of whatever is to be preserved, the result is a form of suspension of the normal life or death cycle. Whatever is preserved remains in a stable, or unchanging, state indefinitely.
This is actually a form of death.
Perhaps God chose a pillar of salt as the final resting state of Lot’s wife because it symbolizes a timeless principle that is foundational in the development of one’s spiritual life.
Recalling John 4 which details Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman, Jesus describes Himself as living water. He further states the water He gives “will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Lot’s wife made a fateful decision to refuse the living water when she peeked back at her old life. She had been granted a reprieve – a second chance saturated with God’s grace– to move away from the destruction of what was familiar to her. Yet as she turned around the gift of living water was drained from her.
The living water that had flowed through her body was instantly drawn from every cell resulting in a lifeless form of salt.
Now it is true that tangible pillar of salt people are not a common sight in our everyday life, but can we become like a ‘pillar of salt’ when we allow the living water -Jesus- to leave our hearts and minds?
The principle of the story of Lot’s wife can indeed be applied to any believer’s life. We are often led by the Spirit to ‘not look back’, yet often have a difficult time leaving a season of life that has run its course. We may feel the Spirit’s nudge to go, but leaving the familiar is scary and uncomfortable so we often remain.
Fear can turn us into a ‘pillar of salt’ causing us to be forever struck in a place, or mindset, we are no longer meant to be. The living water that is designed to flow through us and push us further on our faith walk becomes stagnant, eventually running dry leaving us as symbolic salt pillars.
Even when we do more forward, how many times are we tempted to ‘look back’ causing us to doubt that the way ahead really is better for us?
With each seemingly innocent peek back do we lose more of our ability to discern it is time to move away from the old? Does each glance back drain a bit more of the living water from us?
When a feeling of stagnation creeps into your soul, make sure the living water is being allowed to flow freely within you. If a feeling of paralysis overtakes you when the Spirit is nudging you towards a new season, make sure your focus is on things ahead, not behind.
The words of Luke 17:32-33 reveal the irony of our life of faith, “Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.”
Lot’s wife tried to keep her old life within her sights. As a result, one simple glance back forever kept her from flowing into the new life God had ordained for her.
Focus forward and allow the living water to sweep you toward all God desires for you.