Those are interesting words to read. I don't think I had ever really noticed them before. This morning I was reading Genesis 19, the story of Lot and the angels in Sodom. As I read, I noticed 3 little words that are often overlooked (I know I have overlooked them), "But he lingered." They don't seem like much, until you put them into their context. After all, I like to linger over a cup of hot tea, just sitting and enjoying the moment, the relaxation and the peace that I find sitting on my front porch. I might linger over a good book. I might even linger with a friend while we are visiting, not wanting the moment to end.
That really is why we linger, isn't it? We don't want the moment to end. A boy and a girl might linger just an extra few minutes so that the evening date doesn't quite come to an end just yet. I can remember lingering on the telephone when Penny and I were dating, not wanting to say good bye because I wanted to at least hear her voice for a few more moments. We linger to keep something, such as a feeling or a situation, alive and in the moment.
But I was reading Genesis 19, as the angels have told Lot that he and his family need to leave the city because the Lord was going to destroy, and those 3 words just stood out to me. "But he lingered." He had tried to keep the 2 men safe from the perversion of the men of Sodom. It was only the power of the angels blinding the men outside Lot's door and their pulling him into his own house that saved Lot from being abused by the other men. The angels told him to get his family, sons-in-law, sons, wife, daughters, whoever was important, to leave the city before it was too late. Time was ticking. Destruction was imminent. "But he lingered."
Lot just couldn't bring himself to let go of Sodom. True, it was wicked. The men had tried to rape the visitors to Lot's house. They had tried to abuse Lot. The Lord had decided that the wickedness of Sodom was so great that He was going to rain destruction from heaven. But Lot lingered. He held onto the city for a little longer. He couldn't let it go. The angels had to forcibly make him get moving. "So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city." (Genesis 19:16 ESV) He wouldn't let go of the moment, the feeling, the desire to be a part of the people of Sodom. He lingered.
How often do we do that very thing? How often can it be said of us, "But they lingered." Think about your life, the situations you have found yourself in. Have you ever lingered just a moment too long, when you knew that it wasn't good for you to linger. The man who lingers in the presence of a woman other than his wife because she makes him feel "alive" in ways that is meant only for his wife. The person at the party that lingers just for one more drink, even though he or she has already had enough to drink, because this makes him or her feel good in a time when they are struggling. How often do we linger around sin?
And that is what struck me this morning. We linger around sin. We are told that we are to flee from sin and the devil, to not stay around them, for they will lead us to our destruction. But we linger. How could staying around a sinful situation just a few more moments really hurt us that badly? How can it affect us to linger for just a little longer? It can't be that bad.
But look at how being in Sodom affected the daughters of Lot. They didn't think twice about getting their father drunk in order to have an incestuous relationship with him, just so they can have a child. Each daughter got pregnant by their father and were proud of it. He lingered and sin takes a solid hold in his family.
Do you linger around sinful situations? Do you believe that it won't affect you? Are you feeling that it is all right to remain a little longer when it is wrong? I pray that the Lord will seize your hand and drag you away from that sinful, destructive situation. I pray that the Spirit would send an angel to protect you and take you to safety before it is too late. And when He does give you that escape from the sinful situation, don't look back in longing over what "might have been." Don't "regret" having to give up that sinful behavior or action. Instead, rejoice that the Lord has brought you safely through temptation and has given you an escape before you got so caught up in the situation that things go from bad to worse.
"But he lingered." I hope that isn't said about you in sinful situations of your life. May the Lord grant you wisdom and give you guidance in whatever situation you are facing at this time. Perhaps He will even seize your hand, and force you away from that which will destroy you.