Oh it’s that same old story. I’ve heard this before.
It is easy to tune out because I assume I already know the ending and am quick to make judgments. In this, I have become deaf and blind to what seems familiar and predictable.
It’s much like commuting the same route, day after day. At some point in the drive, when the traffic is at a minimum, I turn on the radio to the local news, numb myself to its repetitive content and mentally hit cruise control.
So it’s a gift most unexpected, when stories I’ve carelessly overlooked, stop and invite me back to re-discovery. The story of Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah is one such example.
I first read the story in my youth. I recall feeling aghast and perplexed. It’s perverse, violent and bizarre. There is nothing PG about it and certainly, not a story of choice for children’s Bible story time. But lost in the dramatic scene of Lot’s wife turning to a pillar of salt and the infamous sulfur and fire ending was Lot himself. I had not noticed him as visibly until most recently.
Lot is Abram’s (later named Abraham) nephew. He joins his uncle on a journey to the land God was to provide (Genesis 12:1-3). After some time, overcrowding and conflicts between Lot and Abram’s employees cause them to part ways. Lot settles in the lush and fertile topography of Sodom (Genesis 13:5-11).
Some time has passed. We find Lot at his customary place, “the gate of Sodom”. His placement at the gate, which is often associated as the center of public life suggests that he held prominence. He encounters two visitors and insists that they stay the night at his home (Genesis 19). They agree and the story takes an alarming turn when all the men in the city, “both young and old, all the people to the last man” (verse 4) encircle Lot’s home and demand his guest be handed over to them.
Lot takes this opportunity to wield his influence. He speaks affectionately to the mob, calling them “my brothers” perhaps hoping to calm and eventually diffuse the clamor. He even volunteers his daughters as a sort of appeasement. However, he is met with accusations, threats and hostility. Verse 9 reads, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” He is rejected.
And when Lot exerts his authority and commands his future sons-in-law to evacuate due to the imminent annihilation of Sodom and Gomorrah, he is dismissed as being flippant. His words bear no weight and garner no respect.
At this point in the story, I am both stunned and terrified.
Similar to Lot, the likelihood that my life could have little to no impact toward what is good and beautiful is eerily real. I could be swept into the currents of mindless living by spending hours scrolling social media leaving behind a trail of emojis. It’s possible to live absent of thoughtful engagement.
Until I am confronted by a mob-like moment, I am groping in the fog, denying my failure to influence. The mob at Lot’s home wreaks havoc but it also creates disruption and clears a path to see. Like a mirror that reflects back all and hides none, it compels you to face reality with honesty, intentionality, curiosity and humility. It begs the question – what mark were you meant to leave? How will your voice, your face, your body seek to make an enduring difference?
We step into impact but not because of fear – being scared that I messed up, I need to do differently or else. Rather, in response to the kindness of God. Where fear limits change to a set of behaviors His kindness transforms the course of our hearts. It’s God’s kindness that invites us to see our impact with clarity.