Friday, January 31, 2014

Coal or Diamond - Part 7

image used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of Wikipedia
Diamonds and coal or graphite are variations of the same material.  The variations in any external circumstances will then influence the final condition of the rock.  The same could be said for people. We start out with a clean slate.  Physical, spiritual, and our own psychological pressures create variations.

When we look at the diversity of the result of life's influences, we realize that, without God, the direction we take becomes a fixed path.  Only the direction changes, but it all leads away from God.

1 Corinthians 13:11 (KJV)  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Pressures are a tool that, in God's control, can create something special.  I can't think of how many times the pressure of meeting a posting deadline has also created something richer than if I had left myself a relaxed pace in writing.  And, yes, the reverse can occur, too.  Not enough time can also lead to carelessness.  That actually got me thinking about Lot's wife.

Genesis 19:26 (KJV)  But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. 

When we talk about the exit from Sodom and Gomorrah, and Lot's wife's response, we usually talk about her attachment to what she knew and how she was "punished" by being turned into that pillar of salt.  Certainly there's not much monetary value in salt.  In the context of this series, salt matches coal.  While not being "valuable", it has a great deal of value for its usefulness.  Salt is a seasoning. It also has been used for centuries to preserve meats when refrigeration wasn't available.  But I think none of this applies to Lot's wife.  The thing that God showed me, yesterday was the pressure context.  When Lot's wife looked back, was it really in longing?

We've all had to deal with moves.  There's a lot of work involved in preparing, unless we sneak away, taking nothing with us.  There's also the pressure of the unknown in a move.  There's a certain excitement about doing something new.  At the same time, there are elements of any change that carry with them a lot of question marks.  And that's where verse 26 comes in.

Most of us aren't really good with the unknown.  And, in the verses leading up to this, we see the family being rounded up and moved out by Lot.  At God's direction.  But there are a couple of things that come into play.  First, Lot's been such a great spiritual leader that he got his family into the midst of a spiritually bankrupt population.  I can picture his wife wondering if he's really hearing from God, this time.  And, as the only family in the area following God, we can wonder if Lot's choices might also indicate that he might not make a great spiritual teacher.  So, we have Lot's wife probably not really understanding all she needed to about God.  And she's suddenly on this trip she had little warning about and probably little personal desire for.

Lot's wife starts the trek, but there are questions.  Like the rest of us, there's fear of the unknown easily coming into play.  Think of her emotions getting in the way of what she was called to do, because she probably wasn't well taught in her faith.  So she turns around to look back.  While Lot's wife knows the bad that she's leaving behind her, she also knows the good that was there.  And she transforms into a pillar of salt.  While all the literal interpretations of this have their validity, I see a symbolism that may be a more important lesson.

One of the things I see, here, is in her being changed to a pillar of salt.  Moving forward, away from where she was, leaves her with no sense of the good to come.  She at least knew whatever outwardly good qualities might be in Sodom and Gomorrah.  So, poorly taught and led, she becomes double minded about her call.  And the pillar of salt isn't so much itself the contrast as her now being immobilized in her doublemindedness.  Now, she can't go back, but she can't move forward, either.  And isn't it interesting that she turns into a pillar of salt?

Jesus refers to His disciples as salt.  Then, He says this:

Luke 14:34-35 (KJV)  Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?  It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Think of Lot's wife.  She's still "salt", but she's going nowhere -- not back to where she came from, not forward in her journey with God.  She's stuck, out in the open, at the mercy of the elements. Those elements, over time, will melt the block of salt, eliminating its flavor.  Her spirituality now being completely washed away.  All because she hadn't latched onto trusting God.

In my own case, that happened in my early teens, by my desire for "cool".  The things I chose to have around me were diluting any spirituality I had.  I wasn't moving forward in much of anything worthwhile.  My parents desire to give me opportunities and God's grace had me going off to Catholic high school for several years, to counteract my own wrong ideas.  The enforced discipline directed me toward both academic and spiritual study.  Unfortunately, there was more of "I must" than "He is".  The enforced discipline had me looking for ways to evade it, instead of developing personal discipline.  I was still hanging out with the ones who I thought were "cool".

I still had some time in my own wrong place before I was called out.  And I would have my own "Lot's wife" moments before I got it right.  Have you ever ignored the bad influences in your past, to hang onto what you thought was the good?  Because you still didn't have a vision for the greater good that was to come?

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