In yesterday’s post, we looked at how we often fight God as he tries to rescue us.
Today, let’s roll up our sleeves and do a bit of bible study.
In Genesis 19, we read of a daring rescue. Two angels arrive at Lot’s home in Sodom with a mission. The city will be destroyed, but God’s heart of compassion is moved for Lot and his family. While Lot and his family members move their feet, doing that to which they are called to ensure their rescue, one is lost. Lot’s wife could have experienced freedom, but couldn’t release the past. Her reticence to release what was behind put a swift end to her life. Her feet may have moved the right direction, but her heart was stuck in the past…
Read Genesis 19:14-17,26:
14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.
15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”
16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”
26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
Why do you think Lot’s wife looked back?
What might this say about her heart?
To all appearances, Lot’s wife was doing what was required. She was moving physically in the right direction. But, apparently, her heart was unwilling to be torn from the familiar, even though the familiar was dreadfully evil. She was going through the motions of obedience with a heart stuck in unwillingness. The price was high.
Describe a situation when you were compelled to do something regarding your eating, eating disorder, or to get your body into a certain condition and discovered that, while you went through the motions, your heart wasn’t in it.
What were the short-term results?
What were the long-term results?
Read Philippians 3:7-14:
7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Even as the darkness of the former kingdom falls behind and the hero leads the way to victory, the adventure has yet to reach its conclusion. There is the happily ever after yet ahead. We haven’t “arrived” even once the physical rescue is complete!
From the passage above (especially verses 12 and following), describe Paul’s current condition and intention. Two are done for you (you can tell what the other answers are by the word “I” in front of each or implied in front of each):
- I haven’t obtained it yet. (verse 12)
- I haven’t been made perfect yet. (verse 12)
From these verses, how is Apostle Paul’s heart in Philippians 3 different from the heart of Lot’s wife?
Rewrite Philippians 3:14 in a journal you use for your Thin Within journey. Use your own language, paraphrasing it to capture the theme of “happily ever after.”
Please read Matthew 16:24,25
24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
Lot’s wife was called to chase hard after God. In order to do that, however, she had to be willing to let go, to lose her life. Doing so would offer new life—a life that held great promise.
Paul counted his previous life rubbish compared to that which Christ offered yet ahead.
Are you willing to consider all your dieting books, counters, scales (including the bathroom scale) rubbish? Are you willing to deny yourself the use of that which is familiar in exchange for the freedom that the Lord offers ahead of you if you will follow His leading? Journal your thoughts.
We may be called to a long, circuitous route of wandering through the desert to learn the lessons that our Savior has for us, but we can trust that every minute will be worth it. He calls us to leave whatever is behind us, and follow Him, wherever He may lead us.
It is true that our Savior calls us not to merely stand off as a spectator and be a fan, cheering him on as he saves the day. No! Instead, he calls us to follow him, but to do so, we must count our past—even our “good,” dieting pasts, practices that we consider reliable—as rubbish, take up our cross, the vehicle through which death may come, and follow Him. If we cling to what we have known, to the life that has been, we will actually continue in the slow death we have been living. If we let go of what has come before, release our hold on our coping mechanisms, obsessions, and bad habits, we will find Life!
When the pain of where we have been over-rides the pain of what may be, we will release our hold on what we have known in favor of going forward into uncharted territory. As long as we aren’t quite that uncomfortable with our predicament, however, we won’t trust the Lord with the journey he has in mind to take us up and out. In fact, this may be one reason why God allows us to “hit bottom.” He wants us to see the futility of clinging so tightly to that which snuffs life out of us.
When we finally release our hold on that which we have held so dear, trust him that it is these very things that are denying us the life we long for, it is then that our arms are able to open wide to embrace his very best…and that is what he has in mind—the very best.
What About You?
How does God want you to respond to the truth you studied today?