Remember Lot’s Wife!
“Remember Lot’s wife!” Jesus exhorts us in Luke 17:32. We don’t know this woman’s name, but in Genesis 19 we can read her story. And she stands as a perpetual reminder of what not to do.
God had decided to completely destroy Sodom, the city where Lot and his family lived (see Ezekiel 16:49). God sent two angels, disguised as men, to take Lot’s family to safety. After three dire warnings, then being physically dragged out of town and warned not to look back, does Lot’s wife follow these instructions? Nope.
Apparently, there was something in Sodom that Lot’s wife was willing to risk her life for. We don’t know what it was, but she chose to gaze back at the city. And she was turned into a pillar of salt.
When Jesus says, “Remember Lot’s wife!” He is warning us about the state of our lives when He returns.
It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed . . . Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. (Luke 17:28-30,32-33, NASB)
When Jesus returns, we will be busy. We will be making a living. We will be satisfying our appetites and desires—eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building . . . There’s nothing wrong with any of those things; they’re a normal part of life—as long as they haven’t crowded out love for Jesus and His call to follow Him.
Our theme in Alliance Women this year is “Set Free, Live Free.” We have been set free. Like He freed Lot’s wife, God has graciously released us from the bondage of sin patterns and disordered loves that cause destruction in our lives. Yet to continue to live free, we must let go of the things that pull us away from following God with all our hearts; this really is a heart issue.
Is there anything we’re holding to above our love for Jesus, who longs to be our first love? Nothing can compare with Christ Jesus our Lord. Let’s “Remember Lot’s wife!”
The intense college-application season has hit our household for the first time. Previously, my daughter wrote her essays to achieve the honorable “A” from her schoolteachers. She is now meticulously crafting her words for another audience—the college admissions review team. Eventually, this essay will serve as her rite of passage to adulthood as she has chosen to profess her journey to faith in Christ and the discovery of her authentic self as a pastor’s kid.
Pressure to Perform
She coined a term— “theatrics of Christianity”—for her narrative. And I’ve been marinating on this phrase within the context of my own life.
I am a woman in ministry. In my pursuit to fulfill my missionary call, I married my life-partner, Ted. In becoming a “Mrs,” I also became a ssa-mo-nim (the Korean word for pastor’s wife). I hated this title because as I joined Ted’s church as his new bride, no one knew my name nor my desire to serve God—even without a husband. This title came with nuanced, unspoken expectations for me to perform.
From living in the shadows of my two older, gifted siblings as a child to becoming Kang ssam-no-min to then getting lost in the demands of motherhood, I felt tossed back and forth in this pendulum of searching for my true self. Outwardly, I wore a beautiful mask of strength and security. But inwardly, I struggled with the pressure to perform the “theatrics of Christianity” for my shifting audience: church members, friends, family, myself, and even God. Who was I trying to prove to be and for what?
Breaking a Vicious Cycle
This pandemic season, with its intensified demands of people and needs around me, has aggravated and exposed my need to perform. This season also has offered me space and time to realign my heart to break free from this vicious cycle. When the stress and pressure to perform prevail, I go back to reflecting on the baptism of Jesus. Before Jesus performed any public ministry or proved His worth and mission to the world, He received His Father’s stamp of approval. From that place of significance and security, Jesus was able to live and do.
Daily, I long to hear the Father say, “You are my daughter, whom I love. With you I am well pleased.” Such affirming words stabilize my identity in Christ, feed me courage to face challenges, empower me to shine, and ultimately free me from the drive to perform. I have nothing to prove or gain from people when I rest confident in who I am and Whose I am.
Set Free – Live Free
God has such a sense of humor. Here we are locked up in a pandemic, and our Alliance Women’s theme for 2020-2021 is Set Free—Live Free. Some may not find that funny, but I smiled at the irony—How can we be set free and live free while in a pandemic?
Life has many confinements—places where our dreams are shattered and mental chains imprison us. When I was diagnosed with leukemia, life as I knew it stopped. As I adjusted to my new normal, God placed Psalm 139:16b in my mind: “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Peace filled me as I realized that this hard day, and every easy day, was ordained by God. “Ordained” is defined as “set apart for a purpose.” All our days, including pandemic days, are set apart for a purpose—to glorify God.
As I looked at cancer not as an obstacle but as an opportunity, God set me free by opening doors for me to minister to cancer patients and their families—people I never would have met had I not stepped into a cancer center.
The apostle Paul had experience with the loss of freedom. In Acts 16 he and Silas were stripped, beaten, and thrown into prison—their feet fastened in stocks. Did Paul play the victim, responding in anger toward God or the prison guards? No. Acts 16:25 says, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.”
Picture it: Paul and Silas were singing and the other prisoners were listening. At midnight. In prison. The result? God’s powerful presence was made known. Suddenly, there was a violent earthquake, the prison doors flew open, chains came loose, and the jailer fell trembling before Paul and Silas and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (see Acts 16:26–30). Wow! Talk about being set free!
In these days of pandemic, pain, confusion, and confinement, let us seek opportunities to minister to those around us. May we be joyful intercessors and worshippers, instead of adding our voices to the discordant din of complainers on social media. May God use us to set prisoners free in our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, and where we play and worship. Let us shine Jesus’ light on a dark world, so those still captive will fall on their knees and ask, “What must I do to be saved?”
Freedom from Misplaced Hope
In January, America was hit with tragic news: the death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and several others. I was never into basketball, and those who know me know that I have no athletic bone in me. However, this news hit me deeply, because it reminded me of a tragic event in my life.
On June 1, 2015, my dad passed away. With the news of Kobe’s death, I was reminded of what had happened in my own life. I spent countless nights looking through old photos, crying out in deep pain, and days looking through my dad’s personal belongings. I spent many nights watching all the videos on my phone, wishing I had more of my dad. I also spent countless nights in prayer and months in professional counseling due to the trauma and pain it gave me. All the hidden pain I thought was unpacked was brought to light with the news of Kobe’s passing; I realized that I didn’t know how to unpack my pain. I felt hopeless and lost in my grief.
The dreams I’d had as a little girl of walking down the aisle at my wedding with my father will never happen. All the dreams of him witnessing the milestones in my life, such as becoming a missionary, will never happen. I realized during counseling that when my dad passed my “protector” had been stripped from me.
I spent 19 years with my dad, and within the blink of an eye my life changed completely.
I spent three days wrestling with God. I had started to feel set free from my grief. Now I found myself asking God to give me reasons to keep moving forward. Although it had been four-and-a-half years since my dad had passed, I felt like I was back to square one . Then in my devotions one day, I read 2 Samuel 7:12–13.
When your days are filled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
Israel put its hope in a ruler who would come through the line of David, one who would liberate them, set them free from all their oppression. They were looking forward to this promise being fulfilled.
In Matthew 22:4–46, Jesus has a conversation with the Pharisees that reveals His identity and their misplaced hope. The Pharisees wanted the kingdom that was to come and not the King himself. They’d been looking forward to the promise of this ruler, this son from the line of David who would set them free from all their oppression, but they’d forgotten about the King himself.
They were trusting in the promise of God over God Himself. They were looking forward to liberty and freedom from their pain and oppression, rather than looking forward to Christ. They wanted the liberation, but not the liberator.
In my moments of feeling hopeless, I realized that I, too, had placed my hope in the promises of God over God Himself. I’d rejoiced that I would one day get to see my earthly father, which is a very good thing, but being reunited with my heavenly Father had become secondary. I wanted the liberation from this grief and pain, but not the liberator. My earthly father became the end prize of my race; I’d forgotten about the real prize, which is Christ.
Do not forget about Christ Himself. Love the Promise Keeper more than His promises. Love the one who sets you free more than the freedom.
This month marks five years and one month since my dad passed. Although I still may grieve, I no longer grieve hopelessly. I’ve been learning to trust in God. He may have given me my earthly father for 19 years to mirror Him as my protector and father, but God will always be my protector. My hope is now in someone who is everlasting and gives comfort in all seasons.