As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”
But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.”
He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.)
By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
- Genesis 19:17-26
Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
- Luke 9:61-62
“How could we endure to live and let time pass if we were always crying for one day or one year to come back — if we did not know that every day in a life fills the whole life with expectation and memory?”
- C. S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet
“Think of yourself just as a seed, waiting patiently in the earth — waiting to come up a flower in the Gardener’s good time — up into the Real world, the Real waking. I suppose that all our present life, looked back on from there, will seem but a drowsy half-waking. We are here in the land of dreams. But cock-crow is coming. It is nearer now than when I began this letter.”
- C. S. Lewis, Letters to an American Lady
When I read the first Lewis quote this morning, it got me to thinking. As a writer, I often glean from the past any sort of lessons learned, but the goal in writing about it is to learn from it so that we do not make the same mistake again. I fear for the countries of this world who are plunging headlong into socialism. It has been tried and has failed, both economically and in the atheistic zeal of removing God from our consciousness. Well, at least there are a remnant who have not bowed down to the latest trend to ignore God.
In my search for “look back,” I found 21 verses in the Bible where the words “look” and “back” occur in the same verse, not all referring to looking back. I was surprised there were that many.
Of course, the first Scripture has many parts. When running from danger, you might trip and fall if you look back and not where you are going. Looking back always slows you down and if an explosive, or lava, or a tidal wave is coming, slowing down is the worst thing to do. I could have copied another C. S. Lewis quote from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, where there is a lament to never take a step back because that is not progress. But I think the reason for the punishment was that Lot’s wife yearned for her life in the city. Could she not have looked back to see if there was anything left to return to? Yet, we need to know that when we accept Jesus, Jesus is within us to stay. Those that turn back, never really had Jesus in the first place. And I could probably think of more lessons from the first Scripture, like when an angel tells you to do something, you do it.
I drove a tractor when I was five or six years old, but that was just moving it from here to there. My Dad would never trust me in plowing the fields. I learned the trick of fixing your stare on a tree or fence post in order to keep your plowing straight and level. When in Scouting, we were given orienteering instructions, of sorts, where the hike was based off a series of compass coordinates and distances. If you went so many yards or meters in one direction, based on a compass reading, stopped and chose another compass direction, etc., you could get to a precise location, sometimes the exact spot where you started. The key was to orient the compass and then look for a far-distant point and walk toward that point. It is the way that the pioneers traveled across the plains toward the West, in their case often traveling toward a rock formation that was 2-3 days ahead of them. But the key to what Jesus said in the second Scripture above is that if you keep your head pointed in the right direction, you will get to your destination or you will plow a straight row, not wasting space in the field and making it easier to harvest once harvest time comes. Again, many lessons could be gleaned from these two verses, but the biggest is that when you avert our eyes from Jesus, usually bad things tend to happen.
I often think of the past and write about the past, but always in a view of the future. There are wonderful people whom I love who have either passed away or with whom I have lost contact. I regret my lack of social skills in not keeping in touch, but as Lewis wrote to the American lady, ”Cock-crow is coming. It is nearer now than when I began this” post.
Keep looking forward. If you are plowing a field, you can keep your rows straight, but more importantly, we will be looking toward being with Jesus.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.