I’ve been pondering the lessons for PWs from the story of Lot’s wife. We don’t know much about her life or what made her tick. We do know, however, that when she had a chance to flee from the destruction of a very wicked town, she had to be dragged out of town by an angel. When told to run for her life and not look back, she stopped and looked back.
Two questions stood out to me from the story of Lot’s wife. Has there ever been a time when you hesitated to do something you knew God wanted you to do? Do you look back with longing to something in the past?
When we first returned to the US after ten years overseas, we thought it was just for a furlough. As time passed, we became sure that we were to base in the US and travel out each year. So for 14 years we worked eight months each year in the US and four months in M. Slowly during those years, I had shifted my thinking from PW on-assignment, to short-term PW. That meant I could legitimately sink my roots down deep in US soil.
In 2004 we owned a home in the US and both of our sons had finished school and were married. We were confronted with a decision about how to continue our overseas work. My husband said one day, “If the Lord asked me where I would like to live and work for the rest of my life, I’d say in M.”
That was the beginning of the Lord dealing with me about my hesitation to move back overseas. I had an almost palpable fear of living overseas. Not because it was a dangerous place, but because I was afraid my husband would die prematurely. I knew he wasn’t sick and that he took reasonably good care of himself. But I also knew, from our twice yearly trips, that Ms. want to hear from him. He would plan our short trips full of meetings, counseling, and travel. Then as we began the itinerary, more and more would be added until it seemed like there was no time to rest. I was afraid that if we lived in the country, their love for him would use him up before his time.
I believe God asked me whether I was going to allow that fear to keep me from agreeing to move back to M. Knowing it was my husband’s heart’s desire, I had to say, “Even if it means he dies younger than he needs to, at least we would be doing what I knew God wanted us to do.”
The next biggest hesitation was the townhouse we owned. To do the work we needed to do, we could not continue paying our mortgage, we couldn’t leave the house empty, and we couldn’t rent it out. I loved that house. It was our home for 14 years, longer than any place I had lived, except for my girlhood home. It had so many memories, besides all the accumulation of stuff from 14 years in the same house. I believe God asked me whether I was going to allow keeping that house to prevent me from agreeing to move back to M. After some tears and soul searching, I was ready to let that go. Lot’s wife only had one evening to make up her mind to leave. God was gracious to allow me much more time to decide.
I had other hesitations and God gently helped me free from the things that kept me back. Many of you have your own stories of how you disentangled from your former life to the one you are living now overseas. Maybe your hesitations now, are more about not giving up the life you lead overseas for life back in your home country. For some of you, you may be hesitating about trying a new outreach or developing a new skill. Do you think you are too old to learn another language?
It is so much better when we can lay down our hesitations and go where we are led, than to have to be dragged by the hand by an angel. It was God’s mercy to take her by the hand and pull her out of Sodom. But there still comes a time when we must decide for ourselves to continue to obey. Lot’s wife didn’t make that choice.
The other question was about looking back. Do you spend a lot of time looking back? I could be looking back to that lovely house and beautiful neighborhood. I could be longing for the years our family spent together there. But those days are past and God has blessed our decision to return to M. I’m so glad I didn’t hesitate longer.
There is so much I would have missed if I had allowed my fears and my ties to things and a place to hold me back. Instead of having one house, we own a small condo in the States and rent a beautiful condo here. Mike has been good about scheduling. He doesn’t want to die prematurely either! We plan the schedule together. We don’t take on additional meetings without conferring with each other and our calendars. We stay busy, but we also plan enough time to recover between meetings.
If you are hesitating, allow God to help you. He teaches us what is best for us and directs us in the way we should go. (Isa. 48:17) He knows what we need to stop hesitating and to make our decision. Remember He is merciful and slow to anger. He is our provider and our comforter.
Don’t look back with longing or regret. Be thankful for where God has brought you and all the lessons you learned along the way. Trust Him with the past as well as the future.
Lot’s wife couldn’t make the break with her past. May God grant us the grace to willingly follow where He leads.