Smooth lazy blue crept into the eastern sky as the servants moved dutifully at an unpleasant task. Slavia’s taught frame fought them with every single step. Priscilla, struggling beside her, resisted as one with her mother. Each angel had one that struggled, one that came passively. Lot and Meranda could not resist, the night had been too much for them and they yielded passively to their determined guests. The thrashing gaggle passed awkwardly down the street in the dusty Sodom twilight, right by the home of another daughter … snoozing warmly with her husband and children.
Slavia was simply beside herself with sorrow, confusion, fear, anger. Three of her married children, and all seven of her grandchildren, slept in quiet, furnished homes along the street. Instinctively … as though being parted from them forever … she struggled to free herself with all her might.
She and Lot had tried their best to convince the family to come, but had lived in careless worldliness too long to have any solid credibility with the children in spiritual things. The married ones had all made light of the early morning warnings and pleadings, sincere as they had been. Slavia now, weeping openly, pulling fiercely against the sturdy hand of the angel, let out a piercing command. “Let … me … go!” she screamed angrily. “We can’t leave without the others! God doesn’t have to do this today! We haven’t had enough time to explain anything to them! They will come with us if you just give me one more chance! Thomas! Leah! My babies! Listen to me! Get up! GET UP!”
Instead of coming peacefully when it had been time for them to begin their journey an hour earlier, Slavia and Lot had lingered about the house, worrying over the rest of the family… until the angels had begun to forcibly drag them out the door into the early morning darkness, leaving Slavia’s spotless, tidy home wide open. Her new Egyptian vases were still in their crates — she had not even had a chance to open them. Everything she had worked for and struggled for in the last two decades was being thrown away for nothing. Why was God so angry? … and with the whole city? What had they all been doing that was so wrong? Slavia’s mind was a frenzied whirl of anger and fear as she drug her feet along the stones of the street and flailed in violent protest at the arms of these strange intruders.
She was absolutely torn inside. Just hours before, her foolish husband had offered up the purity of their last two virgin daughters to the beasts of the city, those sex-starved perverts who were always looking for new meat to discover. Why hadn’t he just turned these two dull strangers over to them instead? What insanity had moved him to betray his own family for these two stubborn men? What could possibly have lulled him to offer his own daughters to the animals, when it wasn’t even what the fiends were after?! To appease their appetite with a second rate meal?? … and of his own children! She was absolutely disgusted with him. She felt betrayed … and alarmed at being out of control of her family. She knew Lot was incompetent in a crisis … but he had really blown it this time!! Now, both of them were being forced against their will toward the city gate.
“Please!! Please, stop!” she pleaded aggressively. “Can’t we have just one more day? Why does it have to be today??”
The angels held their tongues. These dim mortals did not understand the first principles of obedience: almost a different species from Abraham altogether. They marveled at the differences. Lot was unique in his own way though; they perceived the Master working quietly in him. As weak as this one was, he was a child of the Father. The two unmarried daughters and the wife were sanctified in him, else he would have been the only one to bring.
They neared the gate with Slavia still pulling and jerking against their merciful purpose with all her might. She would not go without her babies … she would rather die. The gate of the city groaned upward in rusty tracks of its own accord as they approached. Out into the misty gray of one last lush valley dawn the angels faithfully pressed in their duty, the gate dropping heavily and slowly behind them as they cleared its path with the four broken worldlings. Their grips relaxed as soon as the gate was closed, allowing Slavia to dart immediately back toward the gate …only to find it securely closed to block her way. She pressed her face and shoulders into the dusty grating to try and squeeze herself back inside. Much to her frantic dismay, as thin as she was, she was not small enough to penetrate the sturdy mesh. Her eyes combed the perimeter of the gate for an opening, and then she backed up to scan the city wall for any hint of access. She ignored the angels as they began to address Lot with instructions for the morning.
“You are to begin walking toward the mountains. Do not stay in any part of the plain of this valley. Begin walking immediately, directly for that hill nearest to us in the distance. You will find water as you need it. Do not look this way again.”
Lot winced in fear, “Oh, not so, my Lord!” he exclaimed in dread. “Now that you have shown me mercy in saving my life, I cannot flee towards the mountains! What if a wild beast should attack me, or if I should fall and break my leg?! There are robbers … I would almost certainly die out there alone in the wilderness like that … it has been so long … I don’t know how to …” Breathlessly pointing nearly in the opposite direction, he continued to plead, “Look! There is a small town just over that ridge there … Zoar … It’s a nice little place … and out of the plain. It’s quiet and decent … not nearly as bad as this one. I would be safe there. Let me escape to that city, won’t you?? Isn’t it a little one?”
Slavia, overhearing his pitiful droning, turned to him from studying the city wall and glowered at him as he pleaded with the angels, as if to say, “You are not going anywhere, Mister! Not without my babies you’re not!” He turned and looked at her, breaking painfully inside. He would not live for her any more. She could do what she wanted… he was leaving. He had had enough browbeating and manipulation from her to last him a lifetime. He would do what his Lord said, even if it meant going to the mountains alone, though it scared him half out of his tunic to consider it. He would try begging… maybe his Lord would give him a break.
In deep, open contempt for him, Slavia turned from glaring at him to study the wall once more. Then … she had an idea! These witless strangers would have to go back into the city to destroy it; she would sneak in behind them when they opened the gate.
The Lord looked at Lot in sad disgust. “Very well, Son.” He began in merciful response. “I have accepted you in this thing also. I will not destroy that city for your sake. Be on your way and move quickly: I will have to wait on you to get there.”
Lot, blinded in carnality, looked into the eyes of his God… and could see nothing. Nothing of the love of his Father could penetrate the coldness of a heart so hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Nothing of the timeless majesty, of the vast grandeur, of the absolute perfection of the Being of the eternal God found rest in the shallow wastes of his soul. “Thanks, Lord …” he mouthed in half-hearted hesitation. He looked back through the grating of the city gate one last time, noticing Slavia’s rigid attention to returning inside. “Can’t we stay here just a little bit longer?”
His Lord’s eyes darkened and narrowed toward him. “Going! Sorry! I’m going right now!” He spun on his heals in hasty fear and made off toward Zoar without even thinking of Slavia and the girls. “I won’t look back … I promise, Lord. I’m sorry. Thanks again!”
Slavia turned at the sound of Lot’s sandals in the sand. He was leaving! Wimp! How disgusting! this leader of hers!! Lot was disappearing around the edge of the city wall … and would not look back for Slavia’s determined eye. He could feel her eyes on him, telling him to stay. He did not care any more. He was going to Zoar, with or without her, and he was going now, like he had been told to do. And he was not going to look back. And he was not waiting around for anyone to follow him. For once in his life … he was going to obey! Well, sort of.
Slavia glared at the angels as they moved back toward the gate, silently daring them to open it. The girls watched pensively, suddenly torn between following Lot and helping their mother. Slavia braced herself for a violent dash through the gate as soon as there was any clearance of it from the ground, but the angels walked through the bronze grating smoothly and quietly, as if it did not exist. Blushing in rage, she lunged to grab their garments through the bars but missed in her wild grasping as they moved elegantly toward their purpose. Finally slumping in defeat, she watched them disappear around the corner of the inner wall. She had lost this one. She grasped the cold, heartless bars in her shaking hands, tears streaming down her face. “My babies! My dear babies! How could you do this to me!” she sobbed chokingly.
Meranda, mindful of the imminent danger they were in, approached Slavia gently and quickly. “Daddy’s going … If we don’t hurry and catch up with him, we will be out here all alone. Don’t you think we should follow him?”
Slavia was desperate. Somehow, she would get Lot to change his mind and return with her. Those men would not destroy the city so long as Lot lingered. She raced around the wall and started after him with the girls close behind her. “Lot! Lot!” she screamed after him. “What do you think you are doing?? You get back here right now and take care of your family! You have a responsibility to your sons and daughters in that city. You get back here!!”
Lot was still within ear shot put never broke stride. He had been waiting for that nagging scream and was glad it was over. She could go to hell with the rest of them if she wanted to. He had been given such clear and simple instructions from God; he was going to follow them or die trying.
Soon he could hear his wife racing up behind him. He felt her grabbing the sleeve of his tunic and jerked away from her, keeping his pace without answering her. She ran up in front of him and stood right in his way, glaring at him stubbornly, weeping. He lowered his head and rammed his forehead into hers as he walked right into her, knocking her back and off balance so that she fell to the side.
“Wife beater!” she screamed at him as he marched on past. “You wicked WIMP! How dare you touch me like that!”
“Get in my way again, and I’ll punch your lights out!”, he screamed back at her without turning the slightest from his path.
Getting up, dusting herself off, chasing after him, Slavia pleaded, “What has come over you, Lot? Have you completely lost your mind? I have never in my life seen you acting so irresponsibly! Pull yourself together man! You are running from everything we have worked for for years just ’cause some crazy men put it in your head that they are going to call fire down from heaven this morning! This is ridiculous! I can’t believe it!”
“Shut up and leave me alone, Slavia. There is nothing to discuss. You can go back if you want. Do whatever the hell you feel like doing. You always do anyway. Just leave me alone. I have made up my mind. I am not going back. I am not looking back. Just stay out of my way!”
She ran up alongside him and continued passionately, “Please, Lot! Come back with me! Our children and grandchildren are still sleeping in Sodom! Won’t you even try? Those guys won’t destroy the city so long as we’re still there. Just one more day won’t matter. We can explain things to the kids and their families, get our things together and leave this evening. We’ve been living there for twenty years! What’s one more day going to hurt? Come on!!”
He stopped abruptly and looked directly into her eyes as she got in his way again. “I told you to shut up and leave me alone … I have never in my life been given such simple and direct instructions from God and I intend to do as He has commanded me. I do not care what the consequences are.”
They both stared blankly at each other for a few seconds. Though they had been married for twenty-four years he still could not seem to communicate his feelings to her. He had not even tried for quite some time actually, silently giving in to her manipulations years ago, feeling that she never listened when he spoke of his feelings… that she was just interested in her own comforts. It seemed impossible to reason with her, but for some reason he reached deep within and began to struggle with expression once more.
“Don’t you think I feel bad about the kids?”, he asked painfully. “What do you think I am? A moron or something!? Of course it sickens me to be losing them like this. I love them… deeply, and I wish they would have come with us. We woke them and told them what was going on; they had a chance to come and they chose not to. I wish things were different, but there is nothing that can be done now. We just have to accept it and do what our Lord has commanded.”
“And I do know what we have worked for too.”, he continued thoughtfully. “The house, nice clothes for the children, the delicacies and treasures of this lush valley, the good standing in the community, the security. Yes, I know what that was worth…!” He paused as they studied one another… like two generals studying one another’s forces on the battlefield. She brightened a faint bit internally. Perhaps she was getting through.
“NOTHING!!”, he erupted violently. “Absolutely nothing! I did it all for you and it was the biggest mistake of my life! I should never have listened to you and moved into Sodom in the first place. For years you have pushed me to compromise… a little here and a little there… until the only difference between us and them was our broken little hearts. Maybe you love what we had back there… Maybe all you have ever cared about is what the neighbors think and how the kids are doing! To hell with it!! Now get out of my way or get hurt!” He lunged forward to walk through her again and she dodged quickly to the side, stooping to scoop a fist full of dirt and sand to sling at his head as he strode angrily past her.
“Some godling you are … you … you devil! Love your neighbor for a change, why don’t you! All you can ever think of is yourself! How can you walk away from a whole town and let them die like this? How can you be so cruel??”
He broke out into a dead run for the hills to get away from the confounded piercing of her words, racing furiously in a straight line through the brambles and sticks, scratching his arms and legs against the stiff brush until he tired, bleeding, a good distance away from her. “I will not! I will not!” he mumbled heavily under his breath.
She watched him from behind, trying desperately to think of something, anything, to deter him. He was committed deeply, and she sensed it in despair. If she didn’t move quickly, both she and the last of her kids would be in danger. Reluctantly, she decided to follow him. “Lot!” she pleaded helplessly. “Wait!”
He heard the softness in her voice and was surprised by it. “Are you coming with me?”, he shouted guardedly … without slowing down or looking back.
“Let me catch up with you!” she called anxiously.
“Come on … The Lord told us to hurry!”, he called as he hesitated in his pace and slowed a bit.
“Coming …”, she called back softly. “The Lord told us to hurry…”, she mocked sarcastically under her breath. She quickened her pace and began to plan her next move. If she could just get him to look back once with her, perhaps she could then convince him to come back to the city for a few more hours while she got the rest of the family and a few things together. God and His fireworks would just have to wait.
As Slavia and the girls approached, he said to the three of them firmly. “Now, listen carefully. Form a line behind me and stay close together… and whatever you do, do not stop or look back. Slavia, you take up the rear; keep the girls between us and keep your eye on them. I will scout the way and break a trail for us. God told us not to look back toward the city as we are leaving. So, no matter what happens, do not look back, whatever you do! Do all of you hear me?”
Slavia hated being told what to do, she just hated it with all of her frame, being ordered around and trampled underfoot like some kind of door mat. “Don’t tell me what to do like that!” she snapped at him. “Calm down and quit shouting orders at everyone. We are all adults here… we can think for ourselves! Don’t let all of this excitement go to your head like a fool! Just slow down so we can keep up with you, mister boss man!”
Angrily, he stepped out toward the hills again. How long would it be before she started complaining about something… he could hardly wait…
They walked for short while in silence, feeling the sharp tension between them dissipate as their pulses warmed to the journey and the sun strained to peer over the distant hills on the other side of the valley.
Finally, realizing that precious time was slipping by as they drew farther and farther from the city, she broke the uneasy silence. “Why did you have to run me over back there, Lot? Couldn’t you see that I just wanted to talk with you? You really hurt me. You could have at least gone around me! You can be so abusive sometimes!” It was typical of her way, to begin with an accusation to soften him and get him on the defensive, covering her own unreasonableness. It almost always worked with him.
“You’re right, Slavia… I was a bit rough. I’m sorry. I guess in all of the tension I lost control of myself. I’m really sorry. The night was a bit too much for me I suppose. I’ll try to calm down and keep my head. It won’t happen again, I assure you. Will you forgive me?”
“And I can’t believe you offered our girls to those beasts last night! My goodness, Lot! What in the world has come over you! That was absolutely ridiculous! What in Gods’ green earth were you thinking?”
Lot blushed in sickening embarrassment as he felt the scorn of further blatant failure. The girls were silent, but their quiet agreement was obvious. He suddenly felt the deep betrayal he had committed toward his loved ones in such rash protection of the guests. How would he ever manage to live this one down? For the rest of his life Slavia would be beating him up with this whenever he tried to handle a crisis. There wasn’t anything to say, but the silence was intolerably deafening. “I … I …”, he began to stammer hesitantly.
“You most obviously were NOT thinking! That’s the bottom line!” she interrupted arrogantly. “You have completely lost your gourd! I have never in my life heard of such insanity, not even among the heathen! I knew you had a cold heart toward your family sweetheart … but I have seen it all now! You really surprise me sometimes, you know Lot? I’ve seen a lot of stupid things in my day.. but that has to be tops! I still can’t believe you did it. I never in my life dreamed you could do something that foolish and wicked. As rash and thoughtless a man as you are, I didn’t think you had it in you to be that absurd!”
“Really, I … I …”
“Blubber! Blubber! Blubber!! … Don’t even try to explain yourself. You’re just a stupid, thoughtless brute… offering up the purity of your own virgin daughters to protect some arrogant intruders. I suppose that is why you painstakingly taught our daughters about the duty of purity all these years… so you could just toss them candidly out of the house at midnight… like some kind of spoiled raw meat to a pack of hungry dogs! And for whom did you do this, I ask? For two complete strangers passing through town? Why were you more interested in protecting them? Some father you turned out to be!! Those two quirks deserved to be raped, sauntering into town unannounced at night like that. Why were you willing to sacrifice your own family for those two guys? For the life of me, I will never understand you!”
She really had him pinned this time and he knew it. Tears came to his eyes as he thought about what he had done. Somehow… why, he could not clearly discern… he was drawn to protect these two men even before he knew of their purpose in coming to him. There was something familiar about them internally, something in their spirits that was kin. Nonetheless… he certainly should not have been willing to shove his own two daughters out the door to the sex animals when things got hot. What if the two men had not mercifully intervened?.. what a brutally ugly end for his two lovely girls… to be ravaged to death by two hundred insatiable whoremongers! What should he have done? Turn the fools away politely? They would just have blasted through and taken all of them out for the evening. He should have … he should have…
He should never have moved to Sodom to begin with! What was he doing there in the midst of all of that filth in the first place? In the ease of pride, idleness, and fullness he had fallen prey to their steady carnal advances until he couldn’t quite work things through clearly. He should have known better.
Slavia was of no help at all in keeping things on track either, constantly pushing him to keep up appearances and to compromise “just so”. He could never seem to get it quite right for her and she had given herself to verbally mauling him whenever he failed or crossed her purposes in some way. Though he had managed to move into a position of respect and leadership in the community through her pressure and advise, her constant verbal pounding had broken him years before… and he had gotten to the place in his spirit where he never expected to resist her in any small detail without a fierce domestic struggle. It was seldom worth it; he went along with her most of the time just to keep the peace and save face in the community. Whenever any crisis came on them he would shift gears and awkwardly try to manage things, but Slavia would just take things into her own hands and start commanding him about. To confront her about it was to ask for even more trouble when they needed to be working together. It was hopeless. She had had quite a tight rein on him for years like this … until now. Slavia was not quite sure what had gotten into him this time. Neither was he.
“Well? Are you just going to stumble along up there, gaping like some kind of bloated pimple? Answer me!”
“What can I say? It is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. Thank God He protected us in spite of me.”
“Thank God? Ha! That’s a laugh! Oh! I have a lot to be thankful for, don’t I? Here I am, marching along in the dark behind some senseless moron who has no idea where he is headed, my babies are going to be burned alive this morning, and you’ve had the gall to go telling me that I can’t even turn around to mourn over them? Don’t tell me to thank God for anything!”
“And what’s the big deal about “looking back” anyway? I don’t see the harm in looking back… what’s all the fuss over that?”
“What does it matter?”, Lot breathed in guarded dismay.
“Well, it’s not like we’re strangers to the place. It was our home for nearly twenty years. We had no advance notice that we had to leave. It just seems kind of senseless and mean to me…”
“What does that have to do with anything?”, he persisted dryly.
“Don’t be so difficult, Lot! You know what I’m saying! It’s all this nonsense about looking back… it’s cold and legalistic to be making up stupid rules at a time like this. Looking back over the city obviously won’t bother anyone, and it can’t hurt us. I thought God gave rules that had a purpose for us, to help us live better and love each other and stuff like that. What’s the harm in looking back down over the city as we are leaving? I don’t see why you won’t let us look back to see our home one last time and grieve a little for family and friends. What’s the big deal?”
“I don’t know, and I don’t care. God doesn’t have to explain Himself for us to obey Him. He was pretty clear about it is all I know. He must have His reasons.”, Lot responded flatly.
“Well, it would sure be nice if He was a little more considerate of us! He shoved us out of there without so much as an explanation, much less an apology.”
As they spoke, having just crossed the geographic boundary between the two cities, there was an immense, catastrophic explosion behind them and the sky lit up behind them in the direction of the plain.
“Oh my God!”, Slavia rattled in surprise, instinctively taking the Maker’s name in vain as the Sodomites had done for years. “What was that!”
“Don’t look!”, Lot shouted back, anticipating the temptation. “Don’t look back to watch, whatever you do!”
“This is ridiculous !” Slavia sobbed, wringing her hands behind him in violent despair. “Our children and grandchildren are dying and I can’t even look back to mourn over them! All those poor innocent people are suffering! I can’t believe you’re doing this to us!”
“Me? What am I doing?”
“Treating us all like naughty little children! Telling us we can’t look back as we are leaving! Do you have to be so inflexible and stubborn about it? There’s absolutely no harm in it… it’s just because you want to control me, that’s all. You just want to be in charge and throw all that “submission” stuff at me. I’m not a door mat! You can’t order me around like a stupid fool! You still haven’t given me one good reason why we can’t look back. I just can’t believe it’s that big of a deal! Why are you making such an issue out of it?”
“Because God said so! Can’t you get it through your thick head?? It’s the only thing that He strictly forbid us to do besides hang around longer in Sodom. God has the right to tell us what to do if He wants, and He doesn’t have to have any reasons… though He probably has reasons, knowing Him. What does it matter whether we understand or not?”
“It’s just that you’re being so legalistic and cold about it. You don’t have to be ordering us around and reprimanding us all the time. After you have blown it so badly and been such a stupid thoughtless goat how can you stand there and demand perfection from us? Can’t you see that I am in pain? Don’t you care how I feel? Did it ever occur to you to be a little caring and sensitive with your wife, whom you are supposed to love and cherish and protect? Is your silly little rule all you care about? What a legalistic tyrant you are becoming! What does it matter if we’re not perfect about things? Do you have to keep yelling at us not to look back, especially at a time like this? My God!! My babies are dying!! What’s going to happen if I forget and look back on accident? What! Do you think God will kill me or something?”
“I don’t know, but I wouldn’t take a chance on it if I were you…”
“Don’t be ridiculous!! My God! If He is that insensitive, what kind of a God is He?? You can’t be serious!”
“Slavia! Listen to me! Just shut up and obey Him. It’s not that hard. Quit digging around in the muck trying to manipulate me with all of this nagging and whining. You heard Him yourself. I am only trying to protect you…”
“No you’re not … !”, she interrupted, screaming at him from behind.
“Shut up and let me finish, woman! I saw His eyes when I asked to stay a little longer for you. He was angry with me. I wish you could have seen it, but you were being too stubborn about all this and missed that part. I tell you… He means business. Do what He has said. Don’t even think about what would happen if you disobeyed. Just do what He said. It is simple enough. We don’t have to have our questions answered right now. We don’t need an explanation — and He certainly owes us no apology! It doesn’t have to be convenient and seem reasonable right now. Maybe some day it will all make sense. Just keep moving and don’t look back!”
“You just don’t care about anyone but yourself, that’s all there is to it.” Slavia protested angrily. “You don’t love me or the kids … just intent on being insensitive and domineering or you would be more open to our needs and thoughts. That’s the only reason you’re being so picky about this little rule of yours! It’s more important to you than your own wife and children! I could tell you were like this way back when we were courting in Ur. I should have known better than to marry you! My sister told me not to do it… Why didn’t I listen?!! I just felt sorry for you and thought I could help you. What a stupid fool I was! You never were in tune with the family or the neighbors, just cold and aloof all the time just like your uncle Abraham. Your little rules have always meant more to you than your family and friends. I don’t know how I have managed to put up with you for all these years.
“You’re just sick in the head, Lot, a social twit. You’ve never known how to get along with people. If you weren’t so hard hearted and insensitive you would understand. It just never seems to sink in with you. I don’t know why I even bother to try and help you with it. I’ve had it with you…
“Slow down, Man! Where are you going in such a hurry! How do you expect us to keep up with you?? Next thing I know you will be ordering us to start running after you through these weeds. Didn’t you even think about bringing any food or water along for us? Aren’t you going to let us stop and rest for a bit? Have you all of a sudden become a slave-driver too??”
Lot was walking faster as his anger grew from her provocation. “We haven’t been on the trail for half an hour yet, Slavia. Just shut up and save your strength. We have a long day ahead of us. The more we dilly around the longer it will be before we get to water.”
“‘Don’t look back!’, ‘Shut up!’, ‘Hurry up!’ My! Aren’t we being sweet and godly today!” she mocked sarcastically. “I’m not your slave, Lot! Stop ordering me around!! Can’t you see that our family is being destroyed back there? I will never see my babies again and all you can think about is your damn little rules! If you went through all the pain of having children it wouldn’t be such a light thing with you that they are being BURNED TO DEATH right now!!! All I want to do is stop and rest for a minute and look back one last time before they are gone. Don’t be so harsh with me!”
“Forget what’s behind us.” Lot exhorted in a quickened, growing confidence. “It’s already gone. Gone forever. The children, the neighbors, the perverts, they will all drop from the flames of this destruction into an eternal fire that will make what’s going on behind us look like a bed of lilies. They had their chance to come. We woke every last one of the family up last night and told them to get their things together and come with us. They just complained that we had woken them up for nothing, mocked us playfully, and went back to sleep. They could have come with us back to the house and seen Him for themselves and they knew it. He was standing right in our house waiting for them to come to Him, and not one of them would trouble themselves a half hour’s sleep to check out what we were saying, to see two hundred miraculously blinded perverts stumbling about in the street as evidence right outside their door. We have never woken them up like that before. They knew something was up, they could see it in our eyes and hear the commotion in the streets. They did not want to believe us. They hate Him. I knew it all along. They deserve what they are getting.”
Slavia gasped in horror at his cold bluntness. “Lot! Oh, you sick, demented man! How could you??” she moaned.
“The sad thing is that we have lived in the world and become so much like it for so long that it has nearly broken our spirits clean down to nothing. I can no longer feel the love of God in my heart. I can no longer touch Him. Spiritually I have become so emaciated and weak that I am not even hungry for Him any more. As He spoke to me, and I looked into His eyes, the eyes of the One that made me, the One Who loves me with an everlasting love, I could tell that we were thousands of miles apart even though we were standing right beside each other in the sand. It has been so long since I have loved Him! Why did I do it?? Why did I turn from Him like that for so long? What was so beautiful about that place that it stole my heart away from my precious Father!?”
“Quit it! You fool!! We’re not heathen! We were upstanding members of the community and were regular in the temple worship meetings. We worshiped God every week right along with our neighbors, we even kept tithing like your uncle did to help the poor… and we were good testimonies in the community. Sure, some of the “free” ones would get a little carried away at times and lead the others astray, but our whole family was decent and respected. Our daughters and sons married like normal into good families and worked hard in their places like they should have. We were making a difference there! Things weren’t so bad! I can’t believe you would say such things … that our neighbors deserve what they are getting! … and our own children even! How could you?”
Lot continued boldly, clearly unaffected by Slavia’s reprimands, “We are starting over, Slavia, starting fresh today. That’s why we’re not supposed to look back. There’s nothing from that place to carry with us in our hearts. Not our children, not our grandchildren, not our decent neighbors, not our perverted ones, not our possessions… we are leaving it all behind and we need to get all of it out of our hearts. There’s nothing worth hanging on to back in Sodom. Nothing at all. The sooner we can forget it all the better off we will be.”
“How dare you talk to me and the girls like that! You monster!! How can you say such things about your own friends and family! You are really pushing me to the limit. I can’t believe you are spewing out such stupid, ridiculous nonsense!!”
“Friends and family who hate the Lord deserve to be crushed by Him just like the strangers and foreigners that we abhor from within our little social and cultural cliques. Why do we wish God’s judgment on our enemies and become insulted when our own loved ones, who hate God just as much, fall under His hand?”
“My babies don’t hate God!” Slavia screamed in heated rage.
“Then why did they stay… when we asked them to come with us… to leave that awful place?”, Lot reasoned in detached thoughtfulness. “Anyone who loves this world is an enemy of God. No one can love God and love what He hates. You are in rebellion against Him, Slavia. I wish you would just quiet down and obey Him. I am afraid for you. Please, Slavia, calm down and think. God is destroying that city and everyone in it because they all hate Him. They have turned against Him and have sinned wickedly against Him. If it were not so, He would not be destroying them. If there were any more saints in that place, He would have brought them out with us. What He is doing to them is just and right. It must be; God is upright and He makes no mistakes, though it is hard for us to understand Him in our own blindness at times. We think too much from our own perspective… as if we were the center of God’s universe… instead of Him… as if everything revolves around us and what makes us happy and content. What of God … and what He is really like… and what HE wants? Right now, it is simple and clear: He wants us to forget everything we had and knew in Sodom and put it all out of our hearts, it should be left behind today — right now. He wants to draw us to Himself. He is trying to help us by telling us not to look back and be tempted by that which held us captive from His love for so long.”
“Lot!! You are stark raving mad! WHAT IN THE HELL HAS COME OVER YOU??” she screamed at the top of her lungs, foaming in her rage at him. “Who in the hell do you think you are?? to judge our family and neighbors like that and tell me to forget them! What kind of a God do you believe in anyway? One that gets cheap thrills out of sending people to Hell?? How dare you tell me to forget my family and friends as if they were so much rubbish to be burned! To hell with you and your damn little rules!!”
Lot could tell from the arrogance that Slavia was about to take things into her own hands again. “Don’t look back, Slavia! JUST DON’T DO IT!!!”
He slowed down and started to turn back himself in order to try and stop her, but just barely caught himself. He managed to keep his own head forward, stumbling awkwardly up the hillside and shaking himself to get his wits about him again. “Slavia?” he called out to her. “Slavia!! Are you all right?” There was silence… as the three of them continued to walk slowly up the hill through the trees.
“Meranda! Priscilla!” he called out anxiously.
“Yes, Father?” they both trembled in unison.
“Are you both OK?”
“I’m afraid!” squeaked Meranda timidly.
Lot stopped in his tracks and called again. “SLAVIA!!!!” There was a long dreadful silence … they all stood still in a line together, facing up the hill, not turning around, the gentle breeze still lovingly prodding them forward. His heart pounding wildly, Lot strained to hear any sign of his wife’s presence. There was nothing.
“Don’t look back girls. Do as I say! Do NOT look back, not even to check on your mother.”
They stood, for what seemed like an eternity, waiting breathlessly on the hillside. Lot felt strangely alone all of a sudden. Something was missing inside, something dear and close. It hurt, like death. He could not explain why, but he felt sure that Slavia was gone and that he would never see her again… forever. His heart already ached for her. Though she had so relentlessly harassed him for so many long years, he still loved her deeply. If only she could have trusted and yielded to the Father, what a wonder their marriage and family could have been for the kingdom. It was not to be. He would have to go on without her.
The wind brushed aggressively against the trees from behind them, encouraging the three of them to move on up the hill in the warm morning sunlight. The sun had just broken over the horizon, yet brilliant flashes of light blasted in reflection off of the rocks and branches ahead as if some incredibly spectacular conflagration was exploding immediately behind them. In the distance they could hear the faint screams of the Sodomites amid the thunder of a great devastation. Leaves on the trees about them curled from the blast of the heat, and the grass withered next to them on the ground. Yet they could not feel anything but the gentle prodding warmth of a fresh morning breeze.
“What happened to Momma?” faltered Priscilla weakly. “Momma! Talk to us. Don’t do this to us!”
“I don’t know what has happened to her, if anything. Maybe she stopped to rest… maybe she decided to look back…”
“Can’t we go back and check on her?”, pleaded Meranda desperately. “We could back ourselves down the hill and feel behind us until we found her…”
“I hate to say this, but we are not allowed to look back or go back, not even backwards! We have to keep going. We shouldn’t even be standing still. He told us to be on our way.” Lot began to step slowly forward. “Come girls. Come along. If your mother has stopped to rest, she will have to catch up with us. If she is hurt… or whatever… there is nothing we can do to help her now.”
“Daddy!! No! We can’t go on without her. I’m going back to check on her!”, insisted Priscilla boldly.
“Girl! Get hold of your heart!”, snapped Lot in aggressive concern. “Listen to me!! Pull yourself together and sober up! You heard your mother’s rebellion and her wickedness. Learn from it. She would not obey the Father and she has looked back. I just know it. Listen to me, girls! I beg you… listen to me. I cannot stop you from looking from back. I myself cannot turn back to stop you from going back. I loved your mother just as much as you did, and I love you both as well. She has disobeyed and something terrible has happened to her. If we disobey in order to help her… or even to find out what has happened to her, we could all end up in the same place she did. Now, get yourselves together! The three of us can make it. We have each other and the Lord God is with us. Let’s keep going like the Lord told us to and we will be OK. Do you understand?”
There was a long silence … as Lot waited breathlessly.
“Meranda??!!”, Lot cried out in wrenching agony.
“Oh! Thank you Father!! Thank you for one!”, he gasped in impassioned relief. “Priscilla?! …” Again there was deathly silence.
“Yes …” she sobbed weakly. “I’m still here …”
“Oh bless You, God! Thank you for Your mighty hand in our hearts!”
Lot gathered himself together and slowly stepped forward up the hill again, trying to encourage himself amidst the pain of his loss. “Girls… good job! That was really hard, I know it was. I almost blew it myself. Let’s keep it up. Come with me to Zoar. The Lord will help us as we go. It’s not going to be easy, starting over like this, but let’s encourage each other to be obedient to Him in what He has shown us and told us to do. Are you both with me?”
“Yes, Pappa”, they chimed in sadly but firmly together.
“Good! We begin a new life together in the Lord today. It grieves me that Slavia will not be able to share it with us, but I’m going to make the best of what’s left of my life for Him. I’m just thankful that He has been patient enough to wait on me in my selfish stubbornness and sin. It’s never too late to turn back to Him. Thanks, Daddy!! I love You … please lead us as we go.”
The three of them started up the trail again, and Lot managed to begin to worship unhindered by his pain and sin, for the first time in decades, thanking God for His merciful hand on himself and the two girls as he went on without his mate.
“Obedience …”, he mulled suddenly and uncomfortably to himself as the Spirit continued to work in him. “I have permission to go to Zoar … but that really is not obedience … is it now?” His worship faltered in it’s fresh new start. “He said … ‘the mountains’ … didn’t He? But I can’t … I just can’t …”