Thursday, July 17, 2008
Fiction Friday - One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK
by Bonnie Winters
Scripture: Genesis 19:26
“Hurry now, there’s no time to gather up your mementos of this place. Destruction is coming. You must flee!” There was no disguising the urgency of the heavenly visitor’s voice. “Now!”
Still she lingered, undecided on the threshold of her home. So many memories. So much of my life spent here. Not always happy times, but….
Her thoughts drifted back to their arrival on the lush plain outside Sodom after separating from Lot’s uncle, Abraham. Often she stood outside her tent, looking across the plain toward the city, daydreaming of what it would be like to live in Sodom; a real city with all the hub-bub of life all around her.
“Lot, darling,” she said after preparing his favorite meal, her voice a honeyed dessert, “Why can’t we move into the city? Life would be so much easier there.” She moved behind her husband, who was seated on the ground and began massaging his shoulders, a pout playing on the corners of her full lips. “I am so tired of playing the nomad! Always traveling. It was worse when we followed your Uncle Abraham. We couldn’t even set our own pace or direction then.”
She bent close to nibble on her husband’s ear. “Now, at least you are in charge of our direction. And you have wisely chosen such a lush plain. It really was the best direction, compared to that Canaanite country where Abraham tried to graze his flocks. I have married a wise man indeed!”
She could feel her husband’s will softening like clay in her hands. “Think of it! Lot, you have herdsmen enough to take charge of your flocks. You could settle in the lap of luxury in a place like Sodom. God has prospered you. You are wealthy. Don’t you deserve a little ease?”
Her lips curled in a self-satisfied grin as she remembered how Lot nodded in agreement. Within days, the couple had moved into the city. It was all she had hoped for and more.
“Hurry. The destruction comes. We must flee. Don’t look back.” The urgency in the angelic voice jarred her back to the present. Still she hesitated, wanting to hold onto the life she knew.
As though he understood, the angel forced her to look into his eyes, stirring her memories of another desperate flight. Enemies of Sodom rode through the streets of the city, killing some and rounding up others to carry them off as slaves. Tears stung the back of her eyes as she remembered hugging her daughters to her side, terrified they would be separated from Lot as the Bedouin warriors drove them away from their home.
Her smile faded and she inhaled deeply, letting her breath out slowly to calm her nerves. She gazed around the dim interior of the room one last time as the angel maneuvered her out the door.
Yes, I lost this all once before, when the enemies of Sodom swooped down and carried us away. Fear of losing it all again coaxed a defiant flame back to life in her heart. She stared hard at the angel’s back, biting back the retort on her lips. But Abraham brought us back here to our home. I don’t want to lose it all again.
Lot, this is all your fault! She fumed behind the angel who still gripped her arm, unwilling to provoke the wrath of this being who loomed head and shoulders over her. You brought these visitors to our house for the night when they arrived here in Sodom. Then you refused to let the townsmen harm our guests. That’s when things turned ugly.
She shuddered at the fearful memory of the fists of drunken men pounding on her door. Even now, it caused her pulse to race and her breathing to quicken as she vascillated between anger and self-pity. My poor deluded Lot. Why didn’t you just let those evil men of Sodom have their way? If these men were of God, they could have destroyed the townspeople. If they were only men, they would have been killed and none of this would have happened. No, Lot, you offered the men of Sodom our daughters. Our daughters! Why couldn’t you have just left well enough alone? That’s why we have to flee. It’s all your fault, Lot. You stirred them up.
Twin red spots stood out on her cheeks as she clenched her jaws tight. Without realizing it, her free hand curled into a fist and she pummeled the angel’s arm. As her thoughts tangled into a confused knot, her feet tripped up the steep slope away from Sodom. Steadied by the arm still gripping her wrist, she glared up at the angel’s impassive face. It’s my home. My home. The first place I could put down roots and be happy and you’re taking it all away from me. I don’t want to go back to the wilderness. Not ever.
Two tears coursed down her cheeks. She shrugged her arm loose from the angel’s grasp and scrubbed the tears away with the back of her hand. They were high enough now; surely she could see the whole valley from here.
My home, my home…. The siren song of Sodom crooned to her. She turned her head wistfully to gaze over the valley toward home as her heart hardened….
© 2008 Bonnie Winters
Why is it Lord, we always want to hang on to what we know - even though it isn't safe or good for us? Even when You offer us a way of escape - a way of hope? Help us Father to let go of those things that destroy our faith and harden our hearts against You . Help us to trust You and to hide beneath the sheltering safety of Your wings. Amen.
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