But seriously, part of what I wanted to introduce this theme with is a talk by Elder Jeffery R. Holland called "Remember Lott's Wife".
Apparantly the second shorted verse in all scripture is when the Savior counseled his disciples to "remember Lot's wife" (Luke 17:32). What exactly did they need to remember? Elder Holland says it nicely:
"The original story, of course, comes to us out of the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, when the Lord, having had as much as He could stand of the worst that men and women could do, told Lot and his family to flee because those cities were about to be destroyed. “Escape for thy life,” the Lord said, “look not behind thee . . . ; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed” (Genesis 19:17; emphasis added).
With less than immediate obedience and more than a little negotiation, Lot and his family ultimately did leave town, but just in the nick of time...
Then our theme today comes in the next verse. Surely, surely, with the Lord’s counsel “look not behind thee” ringing clearly in her ears, Lot’s wife, the record says, “looked back,” and she was turned into a pillar of salt.
In the time we have this morning, I am not going to talk to you about the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, nor of the comparison the Lord Himself has made to those days and our own time. I am not even going to talk about obedience and disobedience. I just want to talk to you for a few minutes about looking back and looking ahead."
Waiting on the Lord is looking ahead. I've been thinking the past several days about looking back and looking ahead. True, our human experiences create in large part who we are. This is part of why Adam and Eve had to leave the garden of Eden, they needed a full human experience with all of its opposition. They could not become without the experience. And neither can we. But how do we separate, and sometimes reconcile, looking back and looking ahead?
For Lot's wife "it isn’t just that she looked back; she looked back longingly. In short, her attachment to the past outweighed her confidence in the future. That, apparently, was at least part of her sin.
So, as a new year starts and we try to benefit from a proper view of what has gone before, I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives. So a more theological way to talk about Lot’s wife is to say that she did not have faith. She doubted the Lord’s ability to give her something better than she already had. Apparently she thought—fatally, as it turned out—that nothing that lay ahead could possibly be as good as those moments she was leaving behind."
"We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences, but not the ashes." Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ we have the beautiful opportunity to come to this mortal life and have all the experiences, the good, the bad, and the ugly (and some people get a lot more bad and ugly than others!) but only retain those glowing embers of light and goodness (because we all get some of those too). The Atonement makes it possible to come to this fallen world but not stay in a fallen state.
"Faith is always pointed to the future." Waiting on the Lord means not doubting the Lord's ability to give me something better than I already had. Waiting on the Lord means believing that things which lay ahead can be as good as moments left behind, and in many instances better than what's been before.
Faith pointed to the future does not include being tied to past mistakes (your own or those of others). Repent and forgive, with sincere and whole-hearted repentance and a belief that people can change and improve.
I often find myself asking, "Is there any future for me? What does a new year or a new semester or a new major or a new romance hold for me? Will I be safe? Will life be sound? Can I trust in the Lord and in the future? Or would it be better to look back, to go back, to go home?"
"To all such of every generation, [Elder Holland] call[s] out, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Faith is for the future. Faith builds on the past but never longs to stay there. Faith trusts that God has great things in store for each of us and that Christ truly is the “high priest of good things to come.”
Wait on the Lord: Be of good courage and he shall strengthen thine heart: Wait, I say, on the Lord.
Themes are not without planned activities...
1. Read the entirety of Elder Holland's BYU devotional "Remember Lot's Wife"
2. Read 2 Nephi 2 from the perspective of looking back and looking ahead
3. Record your thoughts
4. How do you demonstrate faith in your everyday life? Decide how you will be conscious about your efforts to develop/use faith.