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Lot’s Descent

Sometimes in life we may be told to accept our lot! Usually this is said when we want to change the unchangeable or if we’re daydreaming about our lives, wishing we were somewhere else, doing other things with greater recognition and success. A big part of recovery (and of life) is learning to manage expectations and live in reality, just for today.

Well, there’s also a guy in the bible called Lot who probably needed slightly different advice. Instead of accepting his lot, Lot should’ve changed a lot! We read about him and his famous rescue in the book of Genesis and the story is picked up in the New Testament as a picture of the gospel (2 Peter 2:7-8). 

Although Lot is described as a righteous man in the New Testament, he was not a perfect man. He found himself in a position where he accepted the unacceptable as he became trapped and ensnared by the sin of the city of Sodom. This is a situation that many addicts and sinners will likely identify with and  yet Lot didn’t get there by accident. Along the way there were choices made that paint a picture of a descent.

It began with an appeal to his senses and the desires of his heart. The Genesis story reaches a point where Lot and Abraham will separate, and he’s given the choice of where to go. He looks toward a land that is attractive to the eye and well-watered. A place that holds out a promise of satisfaction, pleasure and prosperity near to the city of Sodom (Genesis 13:10).

However, in making this choice, Lot separated himself from God’s land and from those who would be good for him. Instead, he placed himself in the land of idols and out with the influence of others and so the descent had begun.

In addictions ministry, we often hear it testified that whilst our sin can take a while to materialise and reach a point of disaster, it begins with a simple and seemingly innocent choice that springs from simple and seemingly innocent desires of the heart. This in turn becomes lethal to us further down the line. It’s also a common theme that once our heart is captured by the object of our desire we no longer want or seek the advice or influence of others, often cutting people and God himself out of our lives. Lot’s descent began in a similar fashion.

With his desires firmly set, we find that Lot’s next choice was to move near to the land (Genesis 13:12) symbolising another part of the descent. Lot is now acting upon his desires and what was an idea, a thought or even a temptation now becomes a reality.

Of course, we don’t have all the details, just some generalities but it’s enough to show Lot becoming more familiar with the city that would be equated with sin. Living in the land, Lot edges that bit closer to the city of Sodom, perhaps more able to taste the atmosphere, pick up on the noise and maybe even sense the thrill of sin clutching at his heart.

This is often similar in the world of addiction and is as true for sin in general. We may gradually edge a bit closer to the action as we witness other people drinking or doing drugs. Maybe we spend some time on the fringe becoming familiar with the lie of the land before we take bigger steps. A small bet leads to a bigger bet. One look on that website becomes two then five then ten. Perhaps we find that we ease ourselves in slowly by testing the water where a little taste comes before a big one. Slowly but surely we become familiar and comfortable with our sin and our addiction just as Lot becomes familiar with the land he has chosen.

After this we then encounter Lot living in the land (Genesis 14:12) and because of this he is caught up in wider events surrounding him. This is what sparks the rescue operation as Lot is carried off by the political powers of the time.

On the one hand we can sympathise with Lot’s situation but on the other it points to the way in which people can become embroiled in the complexity of human affairs and drawn into whatever cultural climate they are a part of. Indeed, the further one is drawn and then even becomes invested, the harder it is to detach, reset or change the situation.

Like the descent into addiction at some point people move from edging closer to the action to being caught up in it. Sometimes we choose it and sometimes stuff happens ‘to us’ because we are now a person in the mix. Perhaps connections are made with people and places as we now ‘live in the land’ of addiction leaving it much harder to detach when things go pear shaped or to escape the net that has been cast over ourselves.

It’s hard to make too great a point about the sin in Lot’s life but we can see a clear  pattern of a downward spiral into a messy situation which increasingly becomes more difficult to escape from.

So, it’s with little surprise that we then later read of Lot sitting in the gateway of the city (Genesis 19:1), a place reserved for those with authority and status and with a prominent position in the running of the city. Lot started with being attracted to the land around the city, then moved near to the city, then into the city until he was involved in the city. Indeed the pull of sin city is so strong that he was even reluctant to leave it as disaster loomed (Genesis 19:16).  Lot’s sin is now on public display and it’s inevitable that when the sinner rejects God’s good purposes and edges closer to the world of sin they will eventually become involved as an active participant.

This pattern is one that is repeatedly shared when the focus of our sin homes in on an issue of addiction. We find our addiction attractive and appealing. We edge a bit closer. We suss out the atmosphere and toy with it a little. It becomes familiar and comfortable and before we know it, we are making choices to spend more time there. We then become susceptible to all that takes place both in what we do, and what happens to us. Finally, we are involved and become a seasoned participant, a recognised person who even plays a role in leading others into the mess as it becomes a place where we now belong. Our sin is eventually on public display in many ways and even in these circumstances we may not want to leave it behind.

Thankfully when the bottom falls out of Lot’s world, Abraham intervenes before the point of God’s judgement arrives. This is an ‘intervention’ like no other(!) as he pleads to God on Lot’s behalf (Genesis 1816-33) and then God’s angels enter the heart of sin city to pull him out. 

This is a picture of the gospel and what Christ does in our lives. He deals with the bankruptcy of human sin by entering the mess of this world for our own spiritual rescue and intercedes for us. Often in the stories of addiction and recovery, we hear of a bankruptcy that is spiritual and a rescue that is astounding for our mess becomes His mess (2 Cor 5:21) at the cross and his glory becomes our glory through faith.

Perhaps you can identify with Lot’s experience in some small way. You may be somewhere presently on the descent. You can also be a long time clean but still find your addiction appealing and attractive. Maybe you’ve edged a bit closer recently and are perplexed and afraid and you’re asking why? Or maybe you’re in the land already where using is becoming familiar and just a bit too comfortable. Perhaps you’ve gone even further and you’re actively involved as a player and the rabbit hole of sin is deeper than anything you imagined possible.

Many of us at Hope For Glasgow have found a way out of that through Jesus Christ and the gospel. In Ed Welch’s book Addictions – A Banquet In The Grave he describes the descent into addiction and the ascent out which climaxes with delighting in the Lord.  Our weekly meetings and day programme as well as one to one pastoral support looks at these themes as applied to addiction. You may be struggling presently but you don’t have to accept your lot in that regard. The Road to Recovery begins with a choice and continues with choices centred on Jesus Christ and his gospel, a choice you can make today.


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