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What Next?

What Next?

When the war in Ukraine started, it seemed like a continuation of all that had been happening for the past couple of years. After all, starting in 2020, in addition to moving through a global pandemic, we had experienced natural disasters on most every continent — hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, drought, and flooding.1 The ground warmed enough in the mid-Atlantic region for billions of cicadas to emerge — after seventeen years of being underground.2 It was reminiscent of a plague of biblical proportions. We saw protests and riots in major cities in more than sixty countries, drawing attention to racial injustice.3 It was easy to understand why some people wanted to throw their hands up in the air and ask, “What’s next?” — because it did feel like one thing after another just kept happening. When people questioned whether it was the end of the world, it was — even though we’re all still here — because it was the end of the world as we once knew it. 

  • Like most everyone, I was tempted to look back. To want to go back. To 2019. Or any year of our lives before 2020. To go back to normal, whatever our normal was. 

To forget the new normal that we were all desperately trying to create. Yet, no matter how much I longed to go back to normal, there was no going back. That world as we knew it was finished, and God was beckoning me, along with everyone else, to move forward, to lay hold of His purpose and promises in the future. 

Sorting through the tension of not looking back and trying to move forward — including trying to figure out how to move at all in a locked-down world — 

  • I began reminding myself that while the world had changed, God had not. 

He was the same as He’d always been, and I could depend on Him to guide me forward.4

During that same season of doing my best not to look back and instead to keep moving forward, I was reminded of a woman in the Bible who looked back when she wasn’t supposed to, and it didn’t go well for her. [Lot’s wife] was the woman running for her life with her family in Genesis 19. As they ran, destruction was raining down on their hometown of Sodom, and despite being told by an angel not to look back, she turned and looked back. Scripture tells us, 

But Lot’s wife looked back and became a pillar of salt.5

What makes Lot’s wife especially significant is that Jesus said for us to remember her. In the middle of an eschatological discourse in the New Testament, Jesus dropped in three words: “Remember Lot’s wife.”6

If you’ve ever read Luke 17, it’s all too easy to miss these three words. I know because I did for years. I read them, of course, but that’s all. I flew past them. But Jesus never wastes a word, let alone three, so there must be some significance in this second-shortest verse in the Bible. (If you didn’t know that fun fact, now you do. Perhaps it will help you win your next Bible quiz.) These three words began to show me the importance of not looking back. Of always moving forward. Even in the midst of a pandemic or a war or something far more normal. They became words I couldn’t forget and words that showed me the way forward. 

Remember Lot’s wife.

For thirty-plus years now, I’ve been going to women’s conferences, and I don’t remember ever hearing a message on Lot’s wife, nor do I remember teaching one. And yet, of the possible 170 women mentioned in Scripture,7 she is the only one that Jesus tells us to remember. Why her? Why not Eve, Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Ruth, Rahab, Esther, Elizabeth, or even Mary, His own mother? Of all the women Jesus could have told us to remember, He mentioned only one: Lot’s wife. (For all the Bible scholars reading this, Jesus did tell us that the deed of the woman who poured oil over Him would be remembered forever,8 but He told us to remember only one woman — Lot’s wife.) This is astonishing to me. Why her? There had to be a reason. 

Longingly She Lingered

Lot’s wife gets one cameo in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament. That’s it. That’s all Scripture records. Why would Jesus tell us to remember a woman who appears on the pages of Scripture only long enough to disappear? A woman who has the shortest bio ever. A woman whose proper name we don’t even know. What is it about her that we’re to remember? 

As I began to study her life, I noted something very important. This woman was told one thing: 

  • Don’t look back.

And the one thing she was told not to do is the one thing she did. Furthermore, I found that understanding how she looked back quite possibly held a clue as to why she looked back: 

But Lot’s wife, from behind him, [foolishly, longingly] looked [back toward Sodom in an act of disobedience], and she became a pillar of salt.9

She looked back longingly in an act of disobedience. I don’t want to be harsh about Lot’s wife. We all make mistakes, and we all disobey, and to think she looked back longingly causes me to feel for her. Here she was, living her life as usual, and suddenly she’s told to pack up and run for her life. All the while an angel is holding her hand and guiding her. 

Even reading her story afresh while writing, compassion overtook me. 


I can imagine Lot’s wife having deep-seated feelings. It’s no wonder she looked back longingly. Maybe how she looked back has as much to do with it as the mere fact that she looked back at all. 

To look back longingly is to look back with a yearning desire.10 What was it she longed for exactly? What did she so deeply desire? Putting myself in her shoes, I can imagine any number of things. Maybe it was her home. Maybe it was the way her home made her feel safe and secure. Maybe it was the way she’d gotten everything arranged and decorated just so. Maybe it was the way her home welcomed her each time she ran errands and came back to it. Did she long for her belongings? Her friends? Her routine? Her extended family? If you have ever moved from one city to another, then perhaps you know firsthand how easy it is to long for what was, compared to the work involved in adjusting to all that’s new. 

Maybe she had a position in the community, a place of prominence. After all, Sodom wasn’t an impoverished city, and she was married to a wealthy man.11 Could it be that she looked back longingly at everything she had grown attached to and was being forced to abandon? She appeared to be torn between what she was leaving and where she was going. Have you ever been there? Isn’t this our challenge in everything God invites us to do? To move forward or stop and look back? And not just to the tangible things that can slip through our fingers but to places in time, to memories, and to the feelings those memories evoke. It can be any of that or all of that, can’t it? 

Maybe Lot’s wife was trying to preserve the past, something that’s all too easy to do. When we work at preserving the past, lingering in nostalgia, we can keep ourselves from the truth of the present and the pain of reality.12 

  • If we linger in the past, we run the risk of it becoming an idealized version of what really was. 

Memories can easily be distorted, can’t they?13 Of all the things that could have happened to Lot’s wife when she looked back, she turned into a pillar of salt, a substance that has been used as a preservative for centuries and is still used to this day.14 The irony doesn’t escape me. What’s more, Lot’s wife became the very substance that Jesus said we are. Matthew recorded Jesus saying that we are the salt of the earth.15 Perhaps we need to ensure that we don’t get stuck in a place trying to preserve the past, where we are no longer moving forward, and where we are no longer salting the world around us. 

Lot’s wife looked back longingly. I have found that if we linger too long where we’re not supposed to be, we’ll start longing for what we are supposed to no longer be lingering in. When we linger, we hesitate. The literal meaning of linger is “to be slow in parting. To remain in existence although waning in strength. It’s to procrastinate.” And it includes one more eerily accurate depiction: “To remain alive although gradually dying.”16 Lot’s wife might not have had any idea that looking back would cause her death, but it did, didn’t it? 

Are you longing for something that once was? That is no more? That can never be again? 

Are you lingering there in that place where you should no longer be lingering? 

Are you lingering in a place and longing for what was, all the while tolerating what is, in hopes that if you linger long enough, you might get back what God told you to leave? 

When Lot’s wife longed and lingered, she stopped and looked back toward Sodom in an act of disobedience. Then she became calcified and stuck, frozen in time, paralyzed for eternity as a pillar of salt. I’m Greek, and because I was raised to salt food generously, I love salt. But I don’t want to get stuck and turn into a pillar of salt. I imagine you don’t either. But in a sense, I find that getting stuck like she did is so easy to do. 

We can get stuck in: 

  • our emotions 
  • our thoughts 
  • our attitudes 
  • our opinions 
  • our possessions 
  • our plans 
  • our desires 
  • our habits 
  • our comfort 
  • our pain 
  • our wounds 
  • our relationships 
  • our past 
  • our present 
  • our future hopes 

There are myriad ways and places we can get stuck, and it is my prayer that as we journey together through the pages of this book, we will discover where we may have gotten stuck and uncover ways to get unstuck — so we can move forward into the purpose and promises of God for our future. 

It’s not always easy to move on when God beckons us forward, especially when things are safe, comfortable, and just the way we like it. Equally, it is often difficult to move on when we have experienced deep trauma, pain, or suffering and we feel utterly hopeless and helpless. Moving on is something we know we should do, what we often want to do, and at times what we refuse to do, but it remains something God eagerly wants for us. Wherever you may be on this continuum, I hope you will be able to identify places where you are prone to be stuck, or maybe are stuck, and that you will be infused with the strength of the Holy Spirit to take the next step to getting unstuck. 

1.Kaia Hubbard, “Here Are 10 of the Deadliest Natural Disasters in 2020,” U.S. News & World Report, December 22, 2020, /here-are-10-of-the-deadliest-natural-disasters-in-2020?slide=12. 
2.Michelle Stoddart, “Cicada Invasion: After 17 Years Underground, Billions to Emerge This Spring,” ABC News, April 10, 2021, -17-years-underground-billions-emerge-spring/story?id =76921532. 
3.Frank Jordans and Pan Pylas, “Detentions, Injuries at Anti- Racism Protests Across Europe in Solidarity with US,” Times of Israel, June 7, 2020, -injuries-at-anti-racism-protests-across-europe-in-solidarity -with-us; Savannah Smith, Jiachuan Wu, and Joe Murphy, “Map: George Floyd Protests Around the World,” NBC News, June 9, 2020, -george-f loyd-protests-countries-worldwide-n1228391. 
4.Hebrews 13:8. 
5.Genesis 19:26. 
6.Luke 17:32. 
7.Jeremy Thompson, ed., Lists of Biblical People, Places, Things, and Events (Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2020). 
8.Matthew 26:13. 
9.Genesis 19:26 AMP.
10.Merriam-Webster, s.v. “longing (n.),” accessed January 19, 2023, 
11.Genesis 13:6. 
12.Lauren Martin, “The Science Behind Nostalgia and Why We’re So Obsessed with the Past,” Elite Daily, July 17, 2014, -love-much/673184. 
13.Martin, “Science Behind Nostalgia.” 
14.Stephanie Butler, “Off the Spice Rack: The History of Salt,”, updated August 22, 2018, https://www.history .com/news/off-the-spice-rack-the-story-of-salt. 
15.Matthew 5:13.
16.Merriam-Webster, s.v. “linger (v.),” accessed January 19, 2023, 

Excerpted with permission from Don’t Look Back by Christine Caine, copyright Caso Writing LLC.

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Your Turn

It’s been one hit after another, after another. What next?! Are you longing for the way things used to be? Maybe, like many, your life turned upside in 2019. Maybe the troubles in our world today have knocked the wind out of you. Maybe you’re facing a health crisis, or financial crisis, or family troubles that don’t seem to be unravelable. Don’t look back! God is beckoning you forward! Come share your thoughts with us. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily