Lot’s wife. Let’s be honest: the story seems pretty bizarre to us. And sad. Two angels tell Lot and his family that their city is doomed. Because they are the only righteous people around, Lot and his family will be spared. “Flee, and do not look back,” the angels say, but Lot’s wife turns around to look at her burning city and is transformed into a pillar of salt (see Gen. 19:1-29). I used to read that passage and, with a bit of discomfort, quickly turn to another chapter in the Bible that was easier to grasp.
But a few years ago, I picked up Rev. Elaine Flake’s book of sermons, God in Her Midst: Preaching Healing to Wounded Women. Through her experiences as an African-American woman, Rev. Flake offers insights into Lot’s wife that have provided me with great encouragement and challenge. Because of her sermon, I first considered the idea of what it means to “move forward.”
Life certainly could not have been easy for Lot’s wife. The fact that we do not even know her name highlights the kind of culture in which she lived, and her place in it. Yet, the passage tells us that the Lord was merciful to her family. The two angels sent to destroy the city grasp the hands of her and her family members and pull them to safety. God offers her a new life, a new start, and her only instruction is “do not look back.” But something in her cannot let go. Even though she knows that what remains of her old life is destruction, she lingers. Even though she knows that God is calling her on, she hesitates. Even though she has the promise of God’s protection ahead of her, she turns around.
Rev. Flake’s sermon encourages us to reflect on how we as people handle change. When God calls us, or reveals a truth to us, we will forever be changed. But this does not necessarily mean that we know the way forward, or that we have the confidence and bravery to trust God, let go of our past, and forge ahead as he desires. The story of Lot’s wife speaks to our need for healing, and to our need to be intentional, prayerful, and courageous in how we move forward.
This is the idea behind our issue of Mutuality on “Moving Forward.” As egalitarians, God has revealed the truth of biblical equality to us, but now what? What does this mean for our relationships? How does this impact our calling? And, how do we forgive those in the church who have hurt us?
In our first feature article, author Jo Saxton reflects on her journey to leadership while providing encouragement for women who may be struggling to fully embrace their call from God. Then, in his straight-forward and honest style, pastor Greg Boyd offers insights into how we can overcome our pain and anger when other Christians hurt us. I follow up his article with practical tips for egalitarian congregations to work further in building communities that are safe and welcoming to both men and women. And counselor Morven Baker explores the challenges of marriage when one spouse is committed to biblical equality and one spouse is not. Please be sure to join us on our blog for discussion on this confusing and often difficult situation. As always, we would love to hear from you! Send your feedback on this issue of Mutuality to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blessings to you as you read and reflect!