Salt

“But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” Genesis 19:26 (NIV)

If you are a human (and I think most of you are), you have a past. In the past you are also likely to have some things that are painful. When I was in high school I briefly worked for a large catering company, mostly to help carry stuff and help set things up for them. There is nothing like trusting a teen to carefully move stuff for you. One of the jobs I was on had me carrying food for an outdoor gathering in a court yard. At this location we had to walk through the building to get out to the courtyard. It was a nice open space to walk through so all of us could freely move to and fro. One of the tasks for me this beautiful day was to roll a large, 120 gallon container of lemonade. Perfect for an out door party! The task only required that I take the summer time beverage through the building safely to its destination. Easy. So I glided the drink across the carpeted floor. I was rolling right along and that’s when I heard it. Up in the balcony a man yelled, “Noooooooooo!” Life moved in slow motion. I saw the look on his face as I watched my barrel slowly fall over. 120 gallons of lemonade flooded the floor in front of me. I froze. There was nothing I could do. Nobody said a word to me.

I was humiliated.

That memory is forever burned in my mind. It happened 20 some years ago, but my feelings make it seem like it happened yesterday. In my job I encounter people who often have the past haunting them. For some, it rules them. All of us have some sort of garbage from the past that can really linger around, but some folks just live in the past. They have trouble getting over a relationship, or relive their high school glory days (there should be an Uncle Rico reference here), or continually lament that we are no longer in the “good ol’ days” (because medical care and civil rights were better then…?). The unfortunate result is that it freezes these people from progressing in life.

They just become stuck.

There is the story in the Bible about a dude named Lot living with his family in a lovely land known as Sodom and Gomorrah. You may have heard of it. As it turns out, God was not pleased with somethings going on in town and decided it was time to burn it down. God helped Lot out by notifying him of the impending destruction and encouraged him to take his wife and family and get out of Dodge and not to look back. So Lot did pick up and leave “but Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” She looked back to her past, she looked back on the destruction, she decided that looking back was better than going forward.

And there she stuck.

You may be looking at things in your past right now and feel like you just can’t move forward. There may be someone you can’t seem to forgive. That old habit creeps in when you feel insecure. You wish you had one more chance to say goodbye. There is a fear of letting that past go because you won’t be able to control it anymore. Funny thing is, it is controlling you. Whatever that thing in the past that is making you a pillar of salt, it has power over your life. The thing about God is He is calling you forward, towards progress and growth, to a place of hope, to the future. The resurrected Christ shows that peace can be made with the past so that in no longer has power to hold you back. It’s time to let it go and move. Do whatever it takes. Go to a counselor, talk with a friend, walk through the 12-steps, make amends. God has something better in mind than the pain of your past.

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With

  
(This is a special post in light of April being poetry month. FYI, I am not a poet.)

Sitting, hiding in the dark, black corner of the room. The storm of pain rages within and I feel I’ve been deserted. I wonder if I will make it, if there is something to which I can hold on.

This time it feels like life is slipping, washing away.

Then the man stands up and whispers, “Peace.” The word commands stillness for my soul. A beam of hope slices into the dark, black corner and I am reminded you are WITH me.

Hope

IMG_7314“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 (NIV)

Hope is a powerful element of a person’s life. If one has it, they can endure the most difficult of circumstances. If one loses it, it can be rare, if not impossible, to make their way through even the slightest adversity. To say the old adage “this too shall pass” to a person who lacks hope means nothing. For me, I have faced some difficult circumstances in life. These situations have even planted the thought in my head that I could avoid the difficulty that lies ahead by simply ending it all. Fortunately for me, I believed tomorrow would be another chance and I could make it through whatever hardship I was facing. It pains me, and likely many of you, that not everyone looked to tomorrow with any glimmer of hope.

I knew a few people as I was growing-up who decided suicide was the option that they would act on. I wasn’t very close to them, so I didn’t deal with the pain most people deal with through such a tragic situation. Unfortunately, I’m now becoming more familiar with the feeling. As of late, my community has had more than a few young people who made the decision to end their lives. The recent set of events has sent shockwaves through our community, as you can imagine. Though the pain stops for one, it creates long lasting pain for those who are still here. We do know that there are many factors as to why someone ends their life, but there are times when suicide happens and it doesn’t make any sense. Questions about “why” linger around as there is no clear, rational explanation that all people are willing to accept. However, I am willing to hypothesize that there is one factor for many people that have taken their own life.

Hope was lost.

I don’t believe people lose hope or succumb to the thought of ending their life easily. Most often, it is a slow descent to destruction. It is heartbreaking that we live in a world that takes hope from people. How repulsive is it that we can be people who hurt each other in such deep and personal ways? I hate that our society places so much emphasis on perfection and fitting in that it fuels discouragement and depression. When people feel like outsiders, relationships become even more difficult. We want people to know that we exist with feelings, problems, hobbies, stories to share, a need for someone to listen. We want people to be interested in us. It’s all so dreadful that we tend to miss one vital thing. What is that one thing?

God is interested in you.

God is interested in your pain. God is interested in your joys. God is interested in your life, even when it doesn’t seem like it. Because God cares, there is hope. Hope that God is present in your affliction. Hope that God will guide you to a better life than the one you live in. The apostle Paul, who wrote a good majority of the New Testament in the Bible, wrote these words to followers of Christ who faced severe oppression, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” If I can trust that God is good and patient, I will make it through my present circumstance. If I can speak my worries to a God who listens, I will make it through. When I live by the belief that there is a God who loves the world, I have hope. As a result, I become a person that brings that same hope to others encouraging them that they are not alone. What about you? Will you bring hope somewhere to someone today? You never know what kind of difference it could make.