The ward bulletin was passed out at church today. In it was all the events for the month, all the important contact information for people in the ward, and a message from a member of the bishopric. I intend to read these every month when we get them, but I never seem to get all the way through, or even started. As I was scanning the newsletter I noticed that this months message was from my dad. I thought that was interesting and then proceeded to read and see what he had to say.
The start of a new year is the time to take stock of our lives and see where we are going, measured against where we have been, I don’t want to talk about New Year’s resolutions; I think we hear enough about that. But I do want to talk about the past and the future. The theme I have chosen for this is Luke 17:32, where the Savior warns us to, “Remember Lot’s wife”. What did He mean by such a little phrase? TO find out, we need to recall who Lot’s wife was.
The story comes to us out of the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, when the Lord, having had as much as He could stand of the worst that men and women could do, told Lot and his family to leave because those two cities were about to be destroyed. The Lord said “Escape for they life”. He went on to tell them “Look not behind thee…; escape to the mountain, let thou be consumed” (Genesis 19:17).
Just what did Lot’s wife do that was so wrong? I have thought about that and I think I have, at least, a partial answer. I think the problem Lot’s wife had was that she wasn’t just looking back; in her heart she wanted to go back. It appears to me that even before she was past the city limits, she was already missing what Sodom and Gomorrah had offered her. Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles once said, “Such people know they should have their primary residence in Zion, but they still hope to keep a summer cottage in Babylon.”
As this new year begins and we try to benefit from a proper view of what has gone before, I hope that we will not dwell on days that are past or yearn for yesterdays, no matter how good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to gain knowledge from our experiences. And when we have learned the lesson we need to learn, then we look forward and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that are yet to be in our lives.
So a more accurate way to talk about Lot’s wife is to say that she did not have faith. She doubted the Lord’s ability to give her something better than she already had. Apparently, she thought that nothing that lay ahead could possibly be as good as what she was leaving behind.
Another benefit that some from looking forward in our lives is the ability to forgive. Not only to forgive others, but to forgive ourselves as well. There is something in many of us that fails to forgive and forget earlier mistakes in life- either our mistakes or the mistakes of others. THis failure is not good. This inability to forgive stands in opposition to the Atonement of Jesus Christ. TO be tied to earlier mistakes is the worst kind of wallowing in the past imaginable.
We need to let people repent and grow. We need to believe that people can change and improve. That is the basis of faith. It is the foundation of hope. Above all, it is charity, the pure love of Christ. If something is buried in the past, leave it buried. Don’t keep going back to dig it up. This dwelling on the past, including past mistakes, is just not right! It is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. In some ways it is worse than the sin committed by Lot’s wife because at least she destroyed only herself. In cases of marriage and family, wards and branches, we can end up destroying the lives of many others.
May we all, “Remember Lot’s wife” as we start this New Year. May we all remember that faith is for the future. Faith builds on the past but never longs to stay there. Faith trusts that God has great things in store for each of us. May you keep your eyes on your dreams, no matter how distant and far away they may seem. And may you live to see the miracles of repentance and forgiveness that will transform your life forever. That is the one New Year’s resolution I pray you will keep.
I was surprised at how much his word affected me. I had never thought of Lot’s wife in that way, and then I proceeded to look at myself through that same light.
I have always felt good about the way that I have dealt with people. If someone does something to me that’s offensive or hurtful, I’m pretty good at forgiving them and never bringing it up again. But as I really looked closer, it surprised me to notice that I had attached a clause of sorts to that. I easily forgive… once they apologize. I need to get better at that. I need to learn how to just give over entirely to the Lord. I have seen, first hand, (tonight even) the harmful side effects of not forgiving. Even when I thought I was handling it well, I let it eat at me until it came out in a very inappropriate way. My inability to forgive and forget was the driving force that lead to familial confrontation. My heart sank lower and lower as I watched what my words had fueled. I never want to feel that way again, and much more, I don’t want any of my children to have to ever go through that. Forgiveness will be a number one priority in our household this year so that it will become second nature for the years to come.