Lingering Lot
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Ge 19:15 When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, "Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city."
 16 And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife's hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.  17 So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, "Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed." 18 Then Lot said to them, "Please, no, my lords! 19 "Indeed now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have increased your mercy which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, lest some evil overtake me and I die.
 20 "See now, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one; please let me escape there (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live." 21 And he said to him, "See, I have favored you concerning this thing also, in that I will not overthrow this city for which you have spoken.
 22 "Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there." Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. 23 The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar.
 24 Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. 25 So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

 Lu 5:4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net." 6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.
An Attack of Reluctancy

We’ve been trying to clean out a closet in our basement, and as Joanie goes through the various items, she has to decide whether to keep them, give them away, or throw them out. It’s slow work, and sometimes painful as the decision is reached to throw something out that has sentimental’s hard to let go of such things.

Maybe you’ve had to move and have been faced with similar decisions as you try to fit everything into a U-haul. What to keep, what to throw away.  Maybe you’ve been faced with a decision about a job opportunity in another state, and you’ve had to wrestle with leaving all that you have worked for and enjoyed over the years.  

Maybe you’ve been wrestling with God’s Word. There are things that the Lord wants you to give up, but you want to hang onto them. Maybe there are some promises he wants you to trust, but you are fearful. Leave me alone....I’m comfortable here!

Noel Coward once said, “No one likes change except a wet baby.” Thankfully, God loves us too much to want us to live life in a wet diaper. How does that saying go? “God loves you so much that He’ll accept you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to leave you that way.”

As we look at these Scripture readings today one thing stood out in my mind.....reluctancy. There was the life and death reluctancy of Lot to leave town, and the nearly missed blessing caused by the reluctancy of Peter to leave the dock.

The phrase that caught my eye in the account concerning Lot is this, “and while he lingered.”

The angels had just told him to beat feet out of the city lest he and his wife and two daughters be consumed in it’s destruction. You can’t read this and not pick up on the sense of urgency! Yet we read that Lot lingered. An interesting choice of words.

Like the smell of smoke from a campfire that lingers in the air and on your clothing, like someone who lingers near that person they have a crush on, a lingering look...all these things speak of hanging on. Lot lingered, he wasn’t quite ready to let Sodom go.

The word “lingered” here in the Hebrew means to question or hesitate. And quite literally we see the truth of the Proverb....he who hesitates is lost!

Lot was clearly having an attack of reluctancy. This attack could’ve been brought on by many things. The fact that his sons in law laughed at him and thought he was joking when he told them the city was going to be destroyed.  (V 14)

His wife, as we shall see had serious misgivings about leaving. Think of his daughters, they were leaving all their friends and their husbands behind!

And even when it couldn’t be more clear, I mean these are God’s angels speaking to him, he still lingers.  He still hears the devil whisper the ageless question, “Did God really say?” and get’s talked into hesitation.

You see the devil wants you to question what God says and tries to make you think that God is withholding something from you or that He wants to take something away from you, but that’s one of the points of the full net of fish for Peter.

How many fish did they have to catch in order for Peter to believe that Jesus was God? Did Jesus really have to break the net? I don’t think so, the point is that Jesus wanted to show us that there is great blessing in doing it His way......even though it may not seem like it to the naked eye.  

And it’s in those questioning times that we need to pray “Lord, I my unbelief. Yet we too, so easily get talked into hesitation. And instead of trusting God and His ways, we believe we can handle the situation ourselves. And so we have that first drink, that first sexual encounter, that first credit card purchase, and before we know it, we are in way over our heads.

One can hardly blame Lot for his reluctancy....apart from the sin that was all around him, life appeared to be good in Sodom.
Though nothing is specifically mentioned here, we can assume that life in the city was good. In Ezek 16:49 we read that Sodom had pride. Civic pride? It was a good city. probably had good hospitals, theater, probably a mall or two, and  maybe even a major league sports team...the Sodom Sizzlers.

She had an abundance of food...good restaurants, and a quality of life that included much leisure time.(an abundance of idleness”) I imagine it could’ve been quite like the Fox Cities.  I don’t know about you, but I love it here. I’ve been trying to sell the chamber of commerce on a new slogan. “The Fox Cities. A great place to live, but I wouldn’t want to visit there.” They haven’t returned my calls.

So Lot lingered, and that old enemy of faith.....doubt, began to creep in and control Lot’s dawdling responses to God’s directions. It’s the same way with us isn’t it? “Did God really say? Would He really destroy a whole city? Would He really send someone to hell? And we put off till tomorrow what should be done today.

We say, “I’ve got time.....but we really don’t. Our time is in God’s hands. Remember the rich farmer? “I’ll build bigger barns! Fool! This very night your life will be required!” Our days belong to God!  

 Ps 139:16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.
I was talking with a friend  this week, who lost his wife to cancer late last year. It’s been tough without his wife, but they both knew the end was coming and they had time for closure. Not every one has that luxury. He told me he was talking with a man who took his wife on a motorcycle trip and she was run over by a dump truck and killed.

That couple had no time for closure.....death came suddenly. Death struck suddenly and tragically last Sunday in  Neenah on the Theda Clark bridge. We don’t know when our time is up and if there is reluctancy to follow Jesus....well, it is appointed for man to die once and then the judgement.

This whole scenario of Sodom is a reminder for all of us to not be reluctant in the matter of following Jesus into eternal life. Your options are simple: Surrender to God and His mercy and allow Him to lead you out of the city or drag your heels until it’s too late.

What I like about this account of the preservation of Lot is that in spite of his lingering, look what happens. “while he lingered, (while he hesitated) the men took hold of their hands.....the Lord being merciful to him,”  

Just think about that.... Lot is struggling with doubt, and the Lord in His mercy intervenes and get’s Lot out of the city and on his way to safety. God is able to overcome our doubts, our hesitancy. Indeed, He is the only one able.

I remember my own conversion back to Christianity. And I remember my own “lingering” thoughts. All the things I thought I was going to have to leave behind. I knew I was going to have to give up control, and that meant living according to the Word of God instead of doing whatever I felt like doing.   As Peter said, “nevertheless at Your Word Lord!”

No more drunken partying. I knew playing sports could no longer be my number one priority, and I remember thinking, “well there goes all my fun!” Oh how wrong I was! And as I look back I see that it was God’s mercy that pulled me out of that lifestyle.  

If it was up to me and my flesh....I’d still be in it and paying a horrific price. If I would’ve survived, I’d be 60 years old with nothing to show for it, but a damaged body and spirit, and who knows what kind of damage I would’ve done to those around me.

The beauty of it is that I didn’t miss any of it like I thought I would. Following God’s Word brings blessing. It is not for my harm but for my good. My net is full! Thank you Jesus!
He replaced all that I thought was soooo important with immeasurable peace and joy!

Friend, if God is calling you to “follow Him,” Let go of those things of the world that have a hold of you and let Him take you by the hand and lead you out of the city. Trust Him and let His mercy help you overcome your reluctancy and fear!  It truly is a matter of life and death! Make your heart cry the cry of the Psalmist who said,

 Ps 25:16 Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, ...... Bring me out of my distresses!

Don’t worry so much about where the Lord will lead you once you surrender, for all His paths are mercy and truth:

 Ps 25:10 All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth, To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.

There’s that word “keep” again. We could rephrase this passage in this way: “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth to such as treasure His covenant (baptism)  and His Word.”
He who believes and is baptized shall be delivered from destruction.

What about Lot’s wife? Did you know that Jesus commanded us to “Remember Lot’s wife? This is like the second shortest verse in the Bible: We all know Jesus wept. But Lk 17:32 says, “Remember Lot’s wife.”

We are to learn from her. She looked back, and in looking back gave evidence of the true condition of her heart. Her heart was still in Sodom. By looking back in direct disobedience to God’s command she was stating that her lifestyle in Sodom was more important to her than her lifestyle with God. And Jesus said  

“Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” What was Jesus trying to tell us?

Let go of the control of your lifestyle and surrender it to Him. Lu 9:62 But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."
He’s not looking for partial surrender. he’s not looking for lukewarm Christians. He wants all of you.

So why was Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt? Why not stone or jello or a huge waffle? Let me tell you about salt and the way the term is used in Scripture. Turn to Lk 14:33,34.

 Lu 14:33 "So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
 34 "Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?

Isn’t it interesting that our Lord connects forsaking all with salt?

Jesus says that believers are the salt of the earth. They are the ones who have forsaken the ways of the world for His ways. They are the ones who have responded “yes” to His invitation to break it off with the world and follow Him! They are not bland and lukewarm.  

There is no in-between. Lot’s wife had not completely forsaken the world and she looked back, and God’s perfect justice says. “Okay, you don’t want accept My invitation to be salt?  You don’t want to be a “forsaker” Then you can be for the shaker. I will make you salt and she becomes a pillar of salt. A monument to those who would refuse to put God first.   

We are useless to God and His kingdom, unless we are willing to forsake all. You cannot serve mammon (the things of this world) and God.

Jesus said, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Forsake all. That’s what Jesus means when he invites us to follow Him.

Learn from Peter in this regard. He was reluctant to follow the instructions of Jesus wasn’t he? He had been fishing all night and caught nothing. He was an expert fisherman. He knew it was a ridiculous idea to try and catch anything at this time of the day..

To fish again would require effort on his part. The nets had probably been washed and put away, and now he would have to drag them out again, for what?    The slim chance of catching a few fish?

But look what he says, never mind all of that, never mind all my excuses, “nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” Stop and consider this great truth. spite of how I feel about it, even though it doesn’t make sense to me. even though no other fishermen in their right mind would do it this way, even though it means extra tedious work that I feel is unnecessary, .....”nevertheless, at Your word.”

There is no difference between what Peter said to Jesus and what Jesus said to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Nevertheless, not My will but thine be done.  

The only way to overcome the tyranny of reluctancy is to take Jesus at his Word.  “Nevertheless at Your Word Jesus!” Peter was still reluctant. Lot was reluctant, but God’s mercy comes to us through the Holy Spirit working in His Word,  lifting us up over the hurdle of reluctancy if we would just trust and believe it.

And as we follow Him, we see how silly our reluctancy has been. I’ve done a lot of silly things in my life, biut the silliest thing I’ve ever done was to be hesitant to follow Jesus.

For in following Him, taking the hand of mercy that He offers to us, we are spared from destruction, and as we take Him at His word, our net becomes full of spiritual blessings that we cannot contain. His Word is not for our harm, but for our good!