Let me tell you something very obvious: we all have a past behind us. Each one of us has a history and a story about how we got where we are today. This story is filled with experiences that are memorable, comforting and joyful. This story is also chained to experiences that are painful, devastating and unforgettable.

With that being said, when we decided to give our lives to Jesus Christ, he called us to leave the past. Whether we looked at our lives before becoming a Christian as generally good or we considered it miserable, Christ calls us to leave it behind us (Luke 9:23).

In Genesis 18-19 we are told a story about the judgment of two very evil cities: Sodom and Gomorrah. Specifics are not given about the nature of their sins (however indications are given of homosexuality and oppression of their people), but for whatever reason God’s patience with them ran out, and He decided to inflict His wrath on this wicked people.

This story is told in the midst of a bigger story: the life and journeys of Abraham. Abraham had a nephew named Lot who was living in Sodom with his wife and two daughters. When God comes to Abraham and tells him what He is going to do to Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham is naturally worried about his family. God send two angels into Sodom to rescue Lot and his family before bringing judgment down on the cities.

You could argue that Lot made a mistake by bringing his family to this wicked place. In Genesis 13:12 we are told that Lot moved his tents near Sodom. Then by the time we come to Genesis 18, he has moved his family into Sodom. They had put roots down and had made a home there.

Now God is calling them to leave this wicked and evil place. This must have been very hard. They were leaving their home where they may have raised their family and had very fond memories. Yet to escape the fiery wrath that was coming they had to put those memories and experiences behind them and leave—and that’s exactly what they do. In fact, the angels told Lot to leave with his family and gave him a warning in Genesis 19:17. They warned, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.

As they left something very sad happened. As God sent fire on the two cities Lot’s wife looked back, even though they were strictly warned not to. Why did she look back? We are not told. We can only speculate. Was she reminiscing on the memories she had there with her family? Was she thinking of the friends she had to leave behind? Did she feel pity for her neighbors? Did she herself partake in an evil lifestyle that she did not want to forsake? We simply are not told. On the other hand we are told about her fate. Genesis 19:23-26 says, “The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

We too are called to leave our past lives behind us. We all have a story about our lives before coming to Christ and telling that story to others can be very powerful and faith building for those who hear. We cannot, however, look back at our past and long for the “good ole days” before we knew Christ.

In Luke 9:57-62, Jesus says, “‘As they were going along the road, someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ To another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Yet another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’”

Put the past where it belongs: behind you. We now are in a beautiful relationship with Jesus Christ who give us abundance and newness of life in view of eternal life. A life with Christ is immeasurably greater than our lives in the past without Him. Do not look back. Stay focused on Christ and be satisfied with what He’s doing in your life today.

by Noah Icenhour