Finding encouragement for marriage growth in the bible isn’t exactly unexpected. However, I was somewhat surprised to find such encouragement as I was reading about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Genesis 19 is a tough one for me in many ways, not least of which is the fate of Lot’s wife:
But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:26 NKJV)
Was her saltification an actual punishment for disobedience, or was it simply the natural consequence of turning around to face the burning sulfur?
Whether it was a punishment or simply an unfortunate natural consequence, the outcome resulted from her disobedience. Had she done what she was told to do, she wouldn’t have become a pillar of salt.
Many of us consider her disobedience to be looking back—but that was only one part of the instructions she disregarded. One of the angels who escorted them out of Sodom had a bit more to say.
So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.” (Genesis 19:17 NKJV)
I tend to see growth as a journey—often a journey climbing a mountain. I’ve found myself contemplating these instructions to Lot’s family from that viewpoint. Specifically, I have been considering these words:
. . . Do not . . . stay anywhere in the plain!
. . . Escape to the mountains!
A friend and I were recently discussing how so often we finish our growth in one area, only to find ourselves facing a whole other “growth opportunity.” Both of us have discovered new areas where we need to do some work, which is what prompted this conversation. I told her I’d love a year without such opportunities, and she agreed that it would be nice to experience a plateau.
As much as I would really like to coast on a plateau for a while, my most powerful growth has been when I have not stopped on the plain but instead kept on moving.
My growth in sexual intimacy has illustrated this quite clearly for me.
My original goal in working on sex was simply to make our marriage more tolerable and less tense. I wanted to escape from the place where we were in our marriage—but only until I got to a place that was out of immediate danger. I had no interest in doing more than the bare minimum. I didn’t think about heading to the mountains. I just wanted to do enough to get to the plain where I could coast.
It could only have been the hand of God that kept me going—past the plain, not looking back in longing for the familiarity of the marriage we’d had, and all the way to the mountains.
Making it to the plains allowed our marriage to survive.
The journey up the mountains is what allows us to thrive.
Lot successfully negotiated for a destination closer than the mountains, but God’s initial instruction shows us what He knew would be best: escaping all the way to the mountains.
Many people are reluctantly willing to work on their marriages just enough to flee the immediate danger. They miss out on what the mountains offer.
They settle for good enough instead of striving for good.
As you work on growth in your marriage, are you going to settle on the plain of good enough? Or are you going to escape all the way to the mountains of good that God has prepared for you?
Image credit|Kemeki @morguefile.com