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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Remember Lot's Wife

I started a new scripture journal today. Now I have my "Topics" interactive journal and a "Scripture Story" journal. My topics journal focuses on doctrine or principles taught throughout the church. My thought behind my scripture story journal is to find stories and scriptures that stand out to me and study them more deeply. Sometimes when I'm working on these journals I get overwhelmed because of the amount of information available but it's also what's so cool about this time we live in.

My first Scripture story I'm going to focus on is Lot and his wife. They lived in Sodom and when they were commanded to leave, Lot's wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. You can read about this story in Genesis 19. Luke 17:32 is the 2nd shortest scripture in the Bible and it simply says, Remember Lot's wife.

While reading about it, I've read a really good devotional given by Jeffery R. Holland to a group of BYU students back in 2009. I'm going to post my few favorite parts of his talk here. You can read it in it's entirety here.

So, if history is this important -- and it surely is -- what did Lot's wife do that was so wrong? As something of a student of history, I have thought about that and offer this as a partial answer. Apparently what was wrong with Lot's wife is that she wasn't just looking back, but that in her heart she wanted to go back. It would appear that even before they were past the city limits, she was already missing what Sodom and Gomorrah had offered her. As Elder Maxwell once said, such people know they should have their primary residence in Zion but they still hope to keep a summer cottage in Babylon. It is possible that Lot's wife looked back with resentment toward the Lord for what He was asking her to leave behind. We know that Laman and Lemuel did when Lehi and his family were commanded to leave Jerusalem. So it isn't just that she looked back; she looked back longingly. In short, her attachment to the past outweighed her confidence in the future. That, apparently, was at least part of her sin.

To yearn to go back to a world that cannot be lived in now; to be perennially dissatisfied with present circumstances and have only dismal views of the future; to miss the here-and-now-and-tomorrow because we are so trapped in the here-and-then-and-yesterday -- these are some of the sins, if we may call them that, of both Lot's wife and old Mr. Cheevy.

There is something in us, at least in too many of us, that particularly fails to forgive and forget earlier mistakes in life -- either mistakes we ourselves have made or the mistakes of others. That is not good. It is not Christian. It stands in terrible opposition to the grandeur and majesty of the Atonement of Christ. To be tied to earlier mistakes -- our own or other people's -- is the worst kind of wallowing in the past from which we are called to cease and desist. 

When something is over and done with, when it has been repented of as fully as it can be repented of, when life has moved on as it should and a lot of other wonderfully good things have happened since then, it is not right to go back and open up some ancient wound which the Son of God Himself died trying to heal. Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change, and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is it hope? Yes! Is it charity? Yes! Above all it is charity, the pure love of Christ. If something is buried in the past, leave it buried. Don't keep going back with your little sand pail and beach shovel to dig it up, wave it around, and then throw it at someone saying, "Hey! Do you remember this?" Splat! Well, guess what? That is probably going to result in some ugly morsel being dug up out of your landfill with the reply, "Yeah, I remember it. Do you remember this?" Splat. And everyone comes out of that exchange dirty and muddy and unhappy and hurt, when what our Father in Heaven pleads for is cleanliness and kindness and happiness and healing.

Such dwelling on past lives, including past mistakes, is not right! It is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is worse than Miniver Cheevy and in some ways it is worse than Lot's wife, because at least there he and she were only destroying themselves. In these cases of marriage and family, and wards and apartments and neighborhoods we can end up destroying so many, many others. Perhaps at this beginning of a new year there is no greater requirement for us than to do as the Lord Himself said He does: "Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more" (D&C 58:42).

Like the Anti-Nephi-Lehies of the Book of Mormon, bury your weapons of war, and leave them buried. Forgive, and do that which is harder than to forgive. Forget. And when it comes to mind, forget it again. You can remember just enough to avoid repeating the mistake, but put the rest of it on the dung heap Paul spoke of to those Philippians. Dismiss the destructive and keep dismissing it, until the beauty of the Atonement of Christ has revealed to you your bright future, and the bright future of your family and your friends and your neighbors. God doesn't care nearly as much about where you have been as He does about where you are, and with His help, where you are willing to go.

...and every day ought to be the start of a new year and a new life. Such is the wonder of faith and repentance and the miracles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  

Faith is for the future. Faith builds on the past but never longs to stay there. Faith trusts that God has great things in store for each of us and that Christ is the "high priest of good things to come."


Maybe somebody will like that as much as I did. The Lord is the only one who holds the right to pass judgement. "I the Lord, will forgive whom I forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all." REQUIRED. That's a big word eh?

Now I'm off to work on my journal entry and study Lot and his wife a bit more.


Kristin said...

Apparently what was wrong with Lot's wife is that she wasn't just looking back, but that in her heart she wanted to go back."

I really loved this part of it. How many times am I guilty of wanting to go back in my heart and therefore miss out on what's in front of me? It really makes you think about your life and the goals you want to be moving forward towards.


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