“The two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting near the city gate. When he saw them, he got up and went to them and bowed facedown on the ground. Lot said, ‘Sirs, please come to my house and spend the night. There you can wash your feet, and then tomorrow you may continue your journey.’
The angels answered, ‘No, we will spend the night in the city’s public square.’
But Lot begged them to come, so they agreed and went to his house. Then Lot prepared a meal for them. He baked bread without yeast, and they ate it.
Before bedtime, men both young and old and from every part of Sodom surrounded Lot’s house. They called to Lot, ‘Where are the two men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so we can have sexual relations with them.’
Lot went outside to them, closing the door behind him. He said, ‘No, my brothers! Do not do this evil thing. Look! I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. I will give them to you, and you may do anything you want with them. But please don’t do anything to these men. They have come to my house, and I must protect them.'”—Genesis 19:1-6 (NCV)
“Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.”— Hippocrates
Opportunity. For me that time is now.
Currently, over 70 women and I are on a fast that the Lord led me to do for the observance of Lent. It’s called the “40 Days YOU AND MANNA ONLY Fast” and it’s taken from Exodus 16:33-37 where the Lord instructed Moses to tell Aaron to put a certain amount of manna in a jar to place before the Lord for generations to come. One definition of manna is the miraculous food that was provided for the Israelites. Another is spiritual food. We are on a spiritual manna diet/fast where we actually put scriptures in clear jars, place them on windowsills and (among a few other instructions) allow the Lord to speak to us in areas where we are wounded. The manna is meeting our needs as we walk through our individual “wildernesses” as we head to our on earthly “Promised Lands”. It’s only Day Four and already things have been breaking, changing, accelerating. In all of us. I was just telling one of the participants last night that I wonder, if when going on a fast, that we realize that the word is FAST; that it’s not just about going without something, but it often puts us in the position to have things sped up. The Bible says that some things only come by prayer and fasting. Well, actually, the Word says that the faith needed to move mountains only comes by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:20-21), but something that the Lord has been reminding me of more and more is that he is timeless. HE CAN DO IN ONE SECOND WHAT HE CAN DO IN TEN YEARS. Time is nothing to fear. The consequences surrounding a lack of obedience are.
Well, one of the things that I am asking to be healed of (James 5:16), quite honestly, is not feeling that I am exceptional. Now let me explain: I know I am unique, uncommon, different, “against the grain”, strange and as someone who loves me very much told me just this week, “misunderstood” (just like a lot of people in the Bible). But exceptional is something that’s a little different. I get that I am irregular in a lot of ways and I’ve made peace with that (Isaiah 26:3). But when it comes to some of the other sides of the word—fine, phenomenal, SPECIAL—it’s still a struggle for me. One person once told me it’s that case because I am avant-garde (ahead of my time). However, last night, as I was providing one of my prayer partners with my Sabbath list, I realized it’s also because I still am processing (which must take place in order to truly heal) my past. I sense in my spirit by the Spirit (John 14:26) that there is some “Sodom and Gomorrah” that I am still in and I am being called out. Now. Immediately. NO LOOKING BACK. That for me, this story, if I take heed will not only save my life, but resurrect some areas in me that have been dormant in preparation for the next phase of it.
Where You’ve Been
And here we go. The truth makes us free, right? (John 8:32). Here’s a portion of my truth. Fathers, make sure you are present IN THE PRESENT of your daughters’ lives. Whether they are young or old. And while you are there, make sure you stay on your face (in humility and service) about your purpose in their lives. One thing that being on a sex fast (abstinence until marriage) has taught me is that sexual sin has LAYERS that must be dealt with. Hebrews 13:4 tells us that the marriage bed is undefiled (pure), but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Not might. WILL. And the thing is, it doesn’t say “in the afterlife”, which leads me to believe that’s a present-tense head’s up. It was just today that I noticed that statement was immediately followed by a warning not to fall in love with money, TO BE SATISFIED WITH WHAT WE HAVE and to trust that the Lord will never leave us or forsake us; that we should not be afraid because the Lord will help us; therefore people should not affect us so detrimentally (Hebrews 13:5-6).
When I think about the judgment (the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, esp. in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion) on my own life as it relates to my past sexual choices, there are two light bulbs that took place this morning. Jehovah-Tsidkenu, The God Our Righteousness, has been very merciful with me (Lamentations 3:22-24), but I’m thinking that it just may be today that I will become fully free of my past. FULLY FREE. Because here’s the thing: 1) When it comes to being forgiven of sin, yes, confession (something I do A LOT) is a part of the process. Indeed the Word says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:8-10) But 2) the Word also says this:
“So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.'” (John 20:21-23-NCV)
Christ was speaking to his apostles before leaving this earth. The Word says that those who abide in his Word are his disciples (John 8:31). That would be us. Do you see what he said about forgiveness? If we forgive the sins of others, they are forgiven? If we retain them, they are retained? Helen Keller was once quoted as saying, “All healing is first a healing of the heart.” I pray hearts get healed today. Let’s spend a quick second defining the word “retain”:
Retain: to keep possession of; to continue to use, practice, etc.; to continue to hold or have; to keep in mind; remember; to hold in place or position; to engage, esp. by payment of a preliminary fee
Luke 6:30-38 (NCV) says, “Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
Where You Are
And yes, now it’s time to piece all of it together. Quite a “love quilt” this is about to make. The Word says that if we confess our sins, we are forgiven. But I am realizing, just today, that a part of confessing the sin is, if it relates to someone else, confessing that I have forgiven them…first.
“But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”—Matthew 5:22-24 (NKJV)
WHOEVER IS ANGRY WITHOUT CAUSE IS IN DANGER OF JUDGMENT. Whoever says to his brother, “Raca” (vain, empty, worthless) is in danger of the council. Whoever calls his brother a fool (a silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgment or sense) is in danger of hell’s fire. We all have sinned (I John 1:10). And another “ah ha” for me is that because of that fact, it’s often that in someone committing a sin against us, we end up reacting in a sinful way (Galatians 5:16-17). THE LORD HAS BEEN KNOWING THIS FACT ALL ALONG. A part of the reason why we must forgive first is so that our hearts can be softened, making us humble enough to even present ourselves before the Father to be cleansed of our unrighteousness…OUR UNRIGHTNESS so that our spirits can be renewed. When David prayed for a clean heart, when he asked for the Holy Spirit to not taken from him, the verse right before those is Psalm 51:9 (NCV): “Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.” We are made in the image of Theotes (Greek for Godhead, Genesis 1:26-27). That is biblical. But in order to reflect his image, WE MUST COME TO HIM IN A SPIRIT OF WORSHIP…IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH (John 4:23-24). THERE IS NO TRUTH IN SIN (John 8:44). Coming to the Father daily while still retaining sin…possessing sin…practicing sin…REMEMBERING SIN…paying a retainer for sin (using ourselves or others for future sins) keeps us in a sinful state and prevents us from getting truly free.
There are people I am realizing that I thought I had forgiven, but I’m still retaining their sins which has affected me from totally forgiving which has prevented me from receiving the full benefits of being forgiven. We may not like it. It may not be taught nearly as much as it should be (more and more I am seeing why the Word says that only a few will make it into the kingdom-Matthew 7:14), but the Bible says to give to EVERYONE who asks of you. If someone asks for forgiveness, WE MUST GIVE IT. It also says that our enemies we must do good to, we must lend expecting NOTHING IN RETURN, which is what gives us a great reward. AND that in the measure that we give, that is how it will be given back to us. Today, I want total forgiveness. I want to leave Sodom and Gomorrah for good. I don’t want to be paralyzed by my past, like Lot’s wife (Genesis 19:26) was nor do I want to stifle my future…like Lot’s daughters did (Genesis 19:30-38). And here’s where I will bring this to a close. Here is where I realize I will be visiting the spirit of Sodom (and Gomorrah) one last time before moving forward.
Lot. I don’t know what his deal was. The Bible does provide us an opportunity to look into his childhood and yes, I believe most issues start at the growing up place. That’s why we must watch how we train our children (Proverbs 22:6) and be especially cautious not to provoke them to wrath (Ephesians 6:4). I know the Lord had a plan for Lot…a mighty one because even with what I am about to share, his life (and bloodline), thanks to Abraham’s plea (Genesis 18:17-33), was spared. If you are a husband or father reading this, you may recognize yourself in Lot. All is not lost. There is still a plan full of good and hope (Jeremiah 29:11) for you. Repent and receive it.
But as a daughter and as a daughter who has had less-than-ideal relationships with her fathers, I am going to approach this from what I believe was his daughters’ perspectives for just a moment. Sodom and Gomorrah had gotten so evil that men were wanting to rape angels. Angels that appeared as men. NOT WOMEN. MEN (I’ll leave that there-Romans 1). I’m sure that was a frightful thing for Lot, but in the midst of trying to protect the angels that came to visit him, he tried to set out his daughters as some kind of consolation “prize”. VIRGIN DAUGHTERS and as the Word says in Genesis 19:14, daughters who were already promised to someone else (it says that he tried to get his future sons-in-laws to leave as well).
I’m not sure where his daughters were in ear and eye shot when Lot said, “Look! I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. I will give them to you, and you may do anything you want with them”, but as a survivor of sexual abuse (and misuse) myself, I can only imagine how such a statement affected them. Here, the man who was supposed to protect them was willing to allow them to be gang raped. His fear altered his judgment. PERFECT LOVE CASTS OUT FEAR (I John 4:18). And isn’t it deep how, if you follow this story, he should have trusted the angels to begin with before making such a disgusting proposition, before putting his daughters on RETAINER, because they were the ones who ended up sparing their lives anyway.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). People partake of our words. Here were these virgin daughters who 1) had their father offer them up for rape; 2) were traumatized by the loss of their fiancés; 3) lost their mother and was about to live in some strange town. Talk about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And when you look at it this way, perhaps what followed doesn’t seem quite as shocking. Lot was a victim. Oh, but so were they:
“Lot was afraid to continue living in Zoar, so he and his two daughters went to live in the mountains in a cave. One day the older daughter said to the younger, ‘Our father is old. Everywhere on the earth women and men marry, but there are no men around here for us to marry. Let’s get our father drunk and have sexual relations with him. We can use him to have children and continue our family.’
That night the two girls got their father drunk, and the older daughter went and had sexual relations with him. But Lot did not know when she lay down or when she got up.
The next day the older daughter said to the younger, ‘Last night I had sexual relations with my father. Let’s get him drunk again tonight so you can go and have sexual relations with him, too. In this way we can use our father to have children to continue our family.’ So that night they got their father drunk again, and the younger daughter went and had sexual relations with him. Again, Lot did not know when she lay down or when she got up.
So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. The older daughter gave birth to a son and named him Moab. He is the ancestor of all the Moabite people who are still living today. The younger daughter also gave birth to a son and named him Ben-Ammi. He is the father of all the Ammonite people who are still living today.”—Genesis 19:30-37 (NCV)
Incest? Indeed. But it was symptomatic. Because really, why should their flesh have not felt that way? Their father was willing to use them; to put their virginity on the auction block. They didn’t have the men they were going to marry anymore. Their mother was not around to comfort them (daughters need the comfort of their mothers…even as adults). And, it would appear that something they all had in common (Lot and his wife included) was not trusting Elohim. Their mother couldn’t leave the past. Her daughters didn’t have faith in their futures. They all took matters into their own hands. Brokenness, that we see even to this day, ensued as a result.
And here I stand. Like them and learning from them. HOW CAN THEY FEEL EXCEPTIONAL WHEN THEIR OWN FATHER DIDN’T HONOR THEM AS SUCH?
Where You’re Going
In the devotional prior to this, a portion of Jeremiah 31:3-5 (Message) was quoted: “God told them, ‘I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love! And so now I’ll start over with you and build you up again, dear virgin Israel. You’ll resume your singing, grabbing tambourines and joining the dance. You’ll go back to your old work of planting vineyards on the Samaritan hillsides, and sit back and enjoy the fruit- oh, how you’ll enjoy those harvests!”
In my devotional time, I’m realizing that while this is an assurance for all of his children, right now, he is speaking it to my broken places. I too have had fathers like Lot who operated in their flesh more than the Spirit. I too have (wow) lost a fiancé. I too have felt like my value was worth very little and so I took matters into my own hands to try and “make something happen” and in some ways, up until today, like the Moabite and Ammonite people, the results of my choices are still with me.
And today, the Lord wants to free me of that. Today, he wants me to know that he loves me and that I can expect more of his love; not the counterfeit of humans but the miraculous love of the divine. And what I really love about this is the last line in Jeremiah 31:5 because on the front of my clear mason manna jar, it says “Golden Harvests”. What does the verse say? I’ll sit back and enjoy my harvests.
But in order to do that, I must leave my Sodom and Gomorrah. Ceasing the actions aren’t good enough. I must refuse to retain the memories of the sins as well in the sense of not holding on to what can tempt me to want to look back like Lot’s wife or want to create my own solutions like Lot’s daughters. I must release my pain from feeling like I was not valuable enough to be protected and treated with exception so that I will not return to a place of spiritual incest (trying to make my brothers in Christ my husband) or desperation (trying to make miracles myself rather than letting the Lord have his way). This fast is moving one big mountain: not believing that I am worthy of love. Real love. Exceptional love. Everlasting love. Love from my Heavenly Father.
I’m smiling because even now I hear, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt.” (John 12:15). I smile because I know that a modern-day definition of Zion is “a place regarded as sacredly devoted to the Lord”. And yes, I am a daughter of Zion and I can trust that my King, the King of Kings, is coming and that is not just an afterlife promise, but a present-day assurance. The Lord is my king and I’m of a royal priesthood who is no longer in the darkness but in the light. Marvelous light (I Peter 2:9-10). Now I’m beaming because you know what happens when an object, a reflecting object (catch that) is placed into marvelous (such as to cause wonder, admiration, or astonishment; surprising; extraordinary) light? Light causes things to take on a certain appearance. Light ignites a spark or flame. Light makes things illuminate. Light brings forth spiritual awareness and mental insight. When light shines, everything in its presence does the same. There’s nothing unexceptional about that.
(Holy Spirit) “And one more thing, Shellie. In being royal, we are making you exceptionally virtuous, too. Do you recall what the Proverbs 31 woman’s family said to her?”
“Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.” (verse 28-29)
(Holy Spirit) “All they will see, in this light, in this way, is you. Your
individuality refined by our definition of virtue is exceptional.”
None of our handiwork is comparable. All is one-of-a-kind. Sin is what makes a person common. Freedom from it is what makes you divine…and divine is beyond special.
Day Four and already a prayer request from the fast came fast.
Goodbye Sodom and Gomorrah. No longer will I not forgive. No longer will I retain. No longer will I not treat my enemies well (whew…hold me to that one) because in the measure that I give, that is the measure I have chosen and purposed to receive and I want LOTS of love. LOTS of affection. LOTS of forgiveness, mercy and grace. LOTS of abundant living (John 10:10).
Exceptional people should have that, right?
I WHOLEheartedly now agree.
In my everlasting and exceptional LOVE quilt…I am covered (Proverbs 10:12).
©Shellie R. Warren/2010