The Only Way to Keep Your Life

Leaving Sodom & Looking Back
On she ran, stumbling over rough terrain, being pulled by the firm grip of a strong hand. Just minutes outside of her home city, the thoughts were driving her to doubt her direction. Everything was fine until these men showed up and started bothering her family. Maybe Lot was a little hasty in offering up their daughters, and maybe she should have helped serve them the feast, but she certainly didn’t do anything to warrant this type of terror from strangers. Now she was being removed from everything she held dear, following only out of forceful obligation.

The thoughts wouldn’t stop coming as her family hurried to escape the destruction. She heard the screams and commotion, even the sobs of her daughters. The smell of sulfur and smoke caused her to choke and cough. Despite the opportunity to escape, her concerns now turned to her friends and neighbors back in Sodom. What was happening to them? Would she ever see them again? She considered her favorite pottery, her linens, her usual marketplace, and the children down the way. Was this fair? Couldn’t she have one last look?

It was overwhelming, and her instincts were taking over. The stitches in her side made it hard to breathe, and she didn’t understand why no one else cared enough to check the status of their beloved city. Didn’t Lot love them more than his Uncle Abraham and Abraham’s God? Tears flooded her eyes, now streaming, leaving marks in the soot on her face. It was too much, she had to look upon this place one more time, and she didn’t care if it cost her a few seconds in the journey. It was in this moment, when her heart treasured her earthly home more than her coming safety, that everything ended. She turned her gaze and lost her life.

In Luke 17:28-32, Jesus referred to the bold imagery of Lot’s wife and the destruction of Sodom. He explained to his disciples the nature of the second coming, comparing it to two judgements they would have been familiar with.  The parallel would have brought to mind the picture of Abraham, interceding on behalf of Lot and his family, whose lives were spared as they trusted God’s plan for escape.  The disciples would also remember what happened to Lot’s wife, the woman who beheld her earthly life more than she sought refuge with Abraham’s God. Jesus goes on to proclaim something many Christians can recite today:

“Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.”
Luke 17:33 ESV

Who will hold your gaze?
As is the case with many frequently quoted bible verses, the meaning of Jesus’ words can grow dim to me. It’s always a wonderful challenge to meditate on the striking reality of the gospel message, and the way it offends my self-importance.

After reading about Lot’s wife and Jesus’ warning, I picture myself, scraping dried, hardened cheerios off the dining room floor. I pause to get a child a drink and switch over a load of laundry. Everything is average about the afternoon. I stand to look out the kitchen window, noticing all the toys in the yard that need to be picked up. Then suddenly, I hear what sounds like a blast of music from the largest, strangest instrument I’ve ever heard.

My heart leaps and the butterflies in my stomach cause me to trip and brace myself on my kitchen sink. Although I’ve never heard that sound before, something deep in my soul recognizes the call beyond a doubt. The thoughts race through my mind, and at once my eyes are filled with tears of joy, and “at last”, and that raging desire to be with one’s greatest love.

With the force of a bride who has been separated from her husband for too long and the eagerness of a child who knows daddy is just beyond the door, I bolt from my kitchen - through the dining room and out my front door. I don’t know where Jesus is yet, but I know that I want to run to him. He’s returned!

There is no fear, no turning back, and no hesitation. The holy spirit in me keeps my eyes fixated on the prize, not stopping to behold and mourn the loss of my earthly home. It’s not that I don’t care for it, but that I’ve been waiting for this, for Him, and nothing is more important to me than our physical reconciliation, where I will see him face-to-face and be transformed in an instant.

Of course, this simply a fictitious meditation, meant to stir my heart and consider what I will treasure most in those last moments. I’m trusting God that if Jesus returns in my lifetime, he will give me the faith to run as fast as I can from the destruction of the temporary to the loving arms of my intercessor, redeemer, and king.

But for many around me, this will not be the reality. They will respond like Lot’s wife, hearing the trumpet and grabbing their valuables. Maybe, they will cling to their children, their husband, their friends, or their co-workers. They will reach to their cell phones, pack a back of provisions and contemplate a plan to go into hiding. They will tweet and text and start posting videos to snapchat. They will find their wallet and mourn having to leave their carefully crafted home. They will seek to preserve their lives, and trust in any earthly means of survival. And they will be destroyed, along will all of their treasure. It will be too late. The last moment will simply reveal what they have already valued, not providing an opportunity to reverse their folly.

Which is why each of us needs to ask ourselves what we treasure most in this life. 
  • Is it our relationships?
  • Our dwellings?
  • Our possessions?
  • Our achievements? 
  • Our communities? 
  • Our causes? 
  • Our good behavior? 
  • Our spiritual piety?
  • Our ability to speak eloquent words?
  • Or even our service to our families?
The only way to keep our lives forever is to lose them in Christ. We won't do it perfectly in this life, but we can trust the holy spirit to keep our eyes fixed on the prize, "the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Phil 3:14)

Back to Top