Then the Lord rained down fire and burning sulfur from the sky on Sodom and Gomorrah. He utterly destroyed them, along with the other cities and villages of the plain, wiping out all the people and every bit of vegetation. But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt.—Genesis 19:24-26 (NLT)
Lot and his family were reluctant refugees. The New Testament calls Lot “a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him … tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day” (2 Peter 2:7-8). But the culture of Sodom had deeply affected his family. Evil or not, the Sodomites were their clients, their neighbors, their friends, their future husbands and in-laws. The calamity that the city suffered put an end to the life they had established, sealing the loss of their house and furniture and gardens, and all the memories of their former life. They cleaned out of the sordid city, leaving behind their dirty laundry and everything.
Perhaps Lot and his daughters fixed their eyes on the mountain in terror because of the fire and brimstone that fell on the plains. But Lot’s wife did not. She could not let go of the life she loved. She mourned for the tragedy of the city, and could envision no new morning ahead. Her tears engulfed her being, and drying, turned her into a pillar of salt.
Many modern immigrants know what it means to flee from great evils, threats, and injustices. They have left everything behind for the prospect of a better future. But not every member of the family feels equally happy with the change. Some live out a lament for the life they left behind. Who can deny that they left beautiful things in the old country? The memories of their youth lie there (in more ways than one), the place where they fell in love, perhaps the graves of their loved ones. The place certainly was no Sodom. Sure there were problems, but does a perfect place exist? Who can wag a finger to contradict them.
It doesn’t matter. Those who live on tears turn salty. A little bit of salt enriches the flavor of life, but too much salt ruins it. Whatever truth their past may hold, true life exists in the future, not in memory. Those who proceed in faith will fix their eyes on a future in Heaven where all tears will cease. If not, what remains but a salty end?
Copyright©2013 by Joseph L. Castleberry.
Dr. Joseph Castleberry is President of Northwest University in Kirkland Washington. He is the author of Your Deepest Dream: Discovering God’s Vision for Your Life and The Kingdom Net: Learning to Network Like Jesus.
Follow him on Twitter at @DrCastleberry and at http://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Castleberry.