When I was a young child I remember being at school and having to occasionally deal with a fire drill. Right in the middle of class, when no one was expecting it, the fire alarm would sound very loudly and nobody knew if it was a drill or a real fire, but we all knew what it meant. We had to get up and go outside and wait until it was over. Thankfully, each time that alarm rang, it was always a drill and never a real fire. As much as the drill was an inconvenience however, it taught us what to do if there ever was a real fire in the school. It meant, grab your stuff and walk out the door towards the outside. Don’t run, don’t panic, don’t scream, don’t knock other people down, just walk quickly and make your way to the nearest exit. Practice of course is never the same as the real deal, but, it does make us have some idea of what to do and sometimes, perhaps even more important, what not to do.
The other night as I was lying in my bed trying to go to sleep, I had this little vision that I want to share with you because it felt very much like a fire drill to me. I saw in my mind’s eye an angel come to my side and tap me on the shoulder and tell me it was time to go. Go where you might ask? Up! I told you, it was like a fire drill, except I knew instantly that it was just a drill, it was not the rapture. What was revealed to me through this little vision however, was even more important. I realized in that split second that I saw the angel and knew that he was calling to me, that I wasn’t ready to go yet. Why not? If you had asked me if I was ready for the rapture, I would have told you that I’ve been ready for decades. Theoretically, I have been. As long as it was a thought, a promise, a hope, something that would happen one day in the future, I was looking forward to it. But when the reality of it came, to my own dismay, I was not ready. I had things I was not yet ready to give up. People I didn’t want to leave were on my mind. What about my unsaved kids? Who would feed my cat? These are important things! I was not yet ready to give up this earthly life and as I pondered on this very chilling thought, I realized that we have in fact been warned about this exact thing in scripture.
There’s a story in Genesis 19 that tells us about a man named Lot and his wife and family. Lot lived in the city of Sodom and he was Abraham’s nephew. Unbeknownst to Lot, the Lord had told Abraham He was about to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and Abraham had interceded on his and his family’s behalf. We are told that two angels came into the city to assess the situation and see if things were really as wicked as they appeared. If you have ever read the story, you will most certainly know that things were so bad, that the men of that city wanted to rape the two angels, who they thought were just visitors. The two angels told Lot he had to leave because destruction was coming.
Lot and his small family reluctantly left and headed to safety, but even as they escaped, fire and brimstone came down from heaven and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. What happened next is almost as tragic as the destruction of these cities. Lot’s wife heard the destruction and looked back, even though the angels had warned them not to.“And as they (the angels) brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” (Genesis 19:17) What happened to her? She became a pillar of salt. (Verse 26)
Lot’s wife has always gotten a lot of judgement, no pun intended. We always look at her and wonder why she didn’t listen. You know the old expression, “curiosity killed the cat”. But was she really just being curious, or was there more to what she did? Remember I mentioned earlier that she had family left behind in that city? Yeah. I use the term “left behind” for a reason. We are not told for certain if her two daughters were her only children, but we do know that their betrothed husbands did not join them. Genesis 19:14 tells us, “So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the LORD is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.” Notice the word “Up”!
His future sons in law thought he was joking. I’m sure we all have people in our lives who think we are kidding when we tell them that Jesus is coming back soon and to get ready. What do we do when those people are family and friends that we love? You see, that is where my dilemma lies because there is a fire coming on this earth and it is called God’s wrath. Revelation tells us in chapter 6:16-17 that the people who are left on this earth during the tribulation period will cry out to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” When I think of those who will be left behind because they chose not to listen to my warnings, I have to remind myself of this one thing that is perhaps the most important fact of this story about Lot and his wife: Looking back did not save anyone; Looking back just killed his wife.
Jesus tells us in Luke 14:26 the following: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” I’ve always found this verse, if truth be told, a little offensive. He tells us to love each other, why would Jesus tell us to hate our own family? Actually, He’s not telling us to hate them. He is telling us to love Him more than them, and in comparison it will appear as hate to us. He’s telling us that when it gets down to the wire, if we have to choose between Him and them, we must choose Him. Abraham is our terrible, awful, gut wrenching example of this when he was told to sacrifice Isaac in Genesis 22. Was God trying to kill Isaac, the promised child? Absolutely not. He was simply trying to kill the idol called Isaac in Abraham’s heart. So too, I must kill everything in my heart that comes between me and my God just like Abraham did. Do I hate my prodigal children? Absolutely not!! I love them and adore them and weep over them. But, when that angel comes again and calls my name and tells me to come, next time I will be ready. Next time I will have already made the decision in advance. I will choose to trust those that I love with Him who is Love. And I will go up. It sounds like hate, doesn’t it? But it’s not.