Rev. Lawrence W. Rodgers

Loving Mercy, Doing Justice, Walking Humbly with God

Embracing the Present: Learning from Lot’s Wife to Overcome Unhealthy Nostalgia


In the journey of life, nostalgia often acts as a double-edged sword. It brings a comforting reminiscence of the ‘good old days’, yet, at the same time, it can tether us to a past that’s long gone, making such nostalgia unhealthy. This reflection is drawn from the biblical account of Lot’s wife, a narrative that provides profound insights into the consequences of being ensnared by the longing for what was.

As we mature, life presents us with a reality check that demands a shift from old ways. A visit to the doctor might reveal borderline high blood pressure, urging a dietary change away from the indulgent foods of our youth. This scenario parallels the choice faced by Lot’s wife. When threatened by the impending doom of Sodom and Gomorrah, she had a chance to move towards a safe future, but her longing gaze backward turned her into a pillar of salt. This narrative, cited by Jesus in Luke 17:20-37, illustrates a vital lesson on overcoming misplaced longing to step into a hopeful future.

The Challenge of Misplaced Longing
Our world often glamorizes abundance and comfort, neglecting the essential values of compassion and justice. According to Ezekiel 16:49-50, the error of Sodom and Gomorrah was that they neglected the needy, leading to their divine judgment. The instruction to Lot's family was explicit: "Escape for your life, do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley" (Genesis 19:17). Yet, Lot’s wife, entranced by the past, looked back and faced dire consequences. Nostalgia, fueled by emotional attachments and fear of the unknown, can hinder us from embracing the unfolding promises of God.

The Unnamed Figure
The emphasis on Lot’s wife by Jesus beckons a reflection on why she, among many biblical women, was singled out for remembrance. It hints at a warning against the idolatry of unhealthy nostalgia which, when allowed to override present realities, can stymie our spiritual and personal growth. For instance, clinging to past relationships can impair the nourishment of current ones. This resonates with the religious leaders of Jesus’ time, who were fixated on ancient glories, oblivious to the Messiah among them.

Unveiling Lot’s Wife’s Longing
The narrative doesn’t detail what Lot’s wife longed for, but one can infer her attachment to her home, community, and the life she knew. Such longing can morph individuals into ‘salty’ beings, embittered by unfulfilled desires and incapacitated by an inability to embrace the present.

Our Temptation to Linger and Long
We all have moments where we yearn for the past, and these can blind us to the beauty and opportunities of the present. Our challenge is to move forward, even when it means leaving certain things behind.

Salt of the Earth
Ironically, while Lot's wife turned into a salt pillar, Jesus calls us the ‘salt of the earth’, urging us to preserve goodness and righteousness. However, when stuck in the past, we lose our ‘saltiness’ and effectiveness in enacting positive change.

Are you held captive by the past? Are you lingering where you ought to move on? It’s time to ‘hold the salt’, to value the present and anticipate the future God has for us. Let’s break free from past shackles, aligning our actions and attitudes with the purpose God has for us today. 

In closing, we pray that God enlightens our hearts to overcome the entrapments of nostalgia, enabling us to be the ‘salt of the earth’, preserving what’s good and righteous, and marching forward into the promises God has for us. 

Click Here To Watch The Sermon That Inspired This Devotional