Not a Lot

“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.  I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him…and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan”” – Genesis 6:17-20

Lot is the Bible’s version of a superhero sidekick.  At times he briefly carried the mantle of his mentor.  More often than not he needed to be saved from an odd subplot.  Yet unlike a comic sidekick, Lot’s failures were more ghastly than goofy.  The stories that feature Lot, they are not your feel-good kind of Bible stories.  In Lot’s stories, he is neither unabashedly brave nor is he completely faithless.    He was something else entirely.

In the New Testament Lot is called, “righteous” (2 Peter 2:7).  Lot was raised with Abraham, “the one who believed”.  He journeyed with Abram and Sarai to Egypt and back.  He witnessed firsthand how God moved through his extended family.  Yet, Lot’s choices were sometimes heroic, sometimes puzzling, and sometimes wretched.  Once you’ve poured over the Biblical evidence, the label of “righteous” seems difficult to apply.

What do you do with a character like Lot?  A character with unrealized potential, who flirted with doing the right thing.  Lot is more than a foil to the faithful.  He is more than cautionary tale.  Lot is a part of the story of the people of God.  He is a part of Jesus’ story and, as followers of Christ, he is part of our story.

While it is tempting to skip over and ignore the uglier parts of a story, the scriptures don’t do that.  In fact, in Psalm 78 the Psalmist calls upon the faithful to teach their history, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  We have no problem recounting our successes.  But it takes a unique kind of courage to follow the Bible’s lead and give voice to the pains, failings, wounds, and troubles of our past.  The Psalmist advocates for this kind of courage, in the belief that all truth leads us to trust in God.

The stories of Lot do not often lend themselves to simple moral lessons.  At the end of the story you may be hard pressed to see a guiding truth.  Yet, we journey into the story of Lot because the Psalmist is onto something.  I believe that when truth is expressed; when light is shown upon the things kept in shadows; when our full story is named, in these moments God draws near.  I’ve experienced this in my life and I hope you have (or you will) too.

For those of you who have shared honestly with a loved one, a friend, or a counselor about your story and your history, I praise God for your courage.  For those of you who wrestle with demons in the dark, I ask God to give you strength for the struggle and a trustworthy companion to walk beside you.  And may all of us experience firsthand the truth of Christ’s promise when he says, “hold to my teaching…then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.