What Kind of Salt am I?
Tonight, our church had their annual Christmas banquet. In the first half of the event, members shared a meal together. We spent the second half taking turns bragging about God and all He has done over the past year. Given the opportunity, we could have stood all night and shared on the wonders of God and His grace, but because of the amount of people present, we were each asked to narrow our focus down to one thing, not a simple task.
Because my husband and I head up the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Packing Party each year, I knew he was going to speak on that ministry and how God's hand brought 786 boxes just last month. I wanted to brag about something else entirely, the profound way God was showing me where I was making a mistake.
I have spent many years of my life living in the past. There were issues which I had to deal with, to be sure not to sweep under the rug and therefore repeat patterns, but the other things, the past mistakes of myself and others, led me on a path of bitterness and regret. Over time, I learned that forgiveness is a process, but some days it felt as though I had never forgiven at all.
Recently, God brought Lot's wife to mind. Hastily leaving Sodom, Lot, his wife and daughters were told to flee and to not look back. At some point, Lot's wife could not help herself and took one last glimpse. It was then she turned into a pillar of salt. Her husband and daughters had to move on without her.
This image was not lost on me. Thinking of all the times I looked into the past, each turn striking a blow to my heart, kept me frozen, unable to move forward. Now, I do not know the real reason Lot's wife looked back. Did she want to take in all she was losing? I will never know for certain but, there is something in the message of not looking back. For me, looking back left a pain in my chest, a lump in my throat and many questions of why. When things in our past make little sense, we may wonder how things would have been different, if only....
That is when God stopped my train of thought and showed me the consequences of Lot's wife. In response, as this old habit of reminiscing would arise, I asked myself, "Will looking back at this contribute to moving forward?" If the answer was, "No," I took that thought captive and moved on. Soon, I realized some fond memories could be a snare as well. If it made me regret what I no longer had, was it any different?
Tonight, I wanted to share what God was teaching me: gratitude.
Entertaining the pain and disappointment of the past shielded my eyes of the blessings in my life today. Jesus tells us:
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot." Matthew 5:13
Before I became the salt that is no longer good for anything, He showed me Lot's wife, ungrateful for rescue, disobedient and selfish. He showed me what it was to be stuck in the past. He showed me that living in the past forbid me from a greater purpose.
Where does gratitude lead?
The Bible is full of scripture about moving forward. We read the stories of old and think they were so long ago they are not much relevant today. Yes, we know Jesus died on a cross for our sins 2021 years ago. We are told to spread the gospel. Growing up, I heard the gospel: Jesus came to earth as a baby, died on a cross for my sins and rose on the third day. Fascinating and humbling, yes. The lesson, however, stopped too soon. After Jesus ascended into heaven, He took the seat at the right hand of the Father where He reigns today. Not just 2021 years ago, Today! The good news continues. He reconciled us. He is in control and sovereign over all. And here, instead of willingly putting myself in a cage, I saw the door was open. I could gratefully turn around and see what was before me.
When we have gratitude, we put our trust in Him. When we put our trust in Him, we are obedient. When we are obedient, we bear fruit.
I want to live as the salt Jesus says I am, not the salt that stands still in a dry, barren, fruitless land which speaks nothing of the Lord who reigns today. That which happened or did not happen in our past is just that, in the past.
What great news is the Lord, and all He says about moving forward:
Isaiah 43:18 “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.”
Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Proverbs 4:25 Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.
John 5:8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
2 Corinthians 12:10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.
Acts 20:24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Deuteronomy 1:6 The Lord our God said to us in Horeb, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain.”
Exodus 14:15 The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.”
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
Isaiah 40:31 But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Job 17:9 Yet the righteous holds to his way, and he who has clean hands grows stronger and stronger.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Luke 9:62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
Philippians 3:13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.
Philippians 3:14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Proverbs 16:3 Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
Psalm 119:11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 31:24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
What did Jesus say about Lot's wife?
“Remember Lot’s wife!” He said. “Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it” Luke 17:32–33
Living in the past holds tightly onto our wrongs, our need for justice, our wants, desires,our life.
This evening, I wanted to share what God showed me and still shows me about Gratitude but I did not. Surely if I can fall into the trap of living in the past, others can too, but I needed to be brief and knew I could not. I wanted to brag on God without sounding like I was actually bragging on myself. I am not sure if I was supposed to share it there, but I will share it here. Should I regret that? No, it is in the past.