Remember Lot’s wife.
The context of this verse is Jesus having a conversation with His disciples about the End Times, particularly Jesus’ Second Coming. He tells them that things will be like the times of Noah and Lot — people will be going on about their daily business as if nothing were ever going to change. TS Eliot wrote This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper. While there may be a great deal of noise when the world actually ends, there will also be rather too many individuals who are not prepared.
Lot’s wife, as a reference, is terrifying. The story of Lot’s family being saved from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is one of the most tragic near-misses in all of scripture. Lot is told that the place he lives has come under God’s judgment and that he and his family are to be spared. He tries to warn his daughters’ fiances, but he is laughed at. The angels finally drag Lot and company out of the city and warn them not to look back. Lot’s wife looks back and is turned into a pillar of salt.
Why salt? I do not know. Perhaps it was a bit of irony in that Lot and his family had not been a preserving influence (salt) in the place they lived. Perhaps God was practicing scorched earth tactics and was salting the ground He had just razed with fire. I cannot say with any certainty. What I can say for certain is this: Do not look back.
Lot’s wife looked back …
… because all her things were behind her.
… because her home was behind her.
… because what was important to her was behind her.
She did not look at her husband and daughters, who were beside her.
She did not look at the place to which she was escaping, which was in front of her.
She looked back.
Lot’s wife is a warning to keep things in perspective. To be sure that I know who and what is really important. Paul wrote that he kept his eyes fixed on Christ and on Heaven. But a read through his letters reveals that he was also deeply concerned for his fellow believers. He had his eyes fixed on what was ahead and on those who were running with him. The forward look to remind him of where he was trying to go. The peripheral glance to keep track of those about whom he cared deeply.
Where are my eyes this morning? Is my gaze trained steadily on Heaven and on He Who waits there to greet me? Is my peripheral vision tracking my wife and children and family and friends so that I might pray for them and encourage them and help them toward the goal? If the answer to either one is “No.”, then my eyes are not where they should be.