Groping for the Door
So I have been reading through Genesis for my Old Testament class. For the most part it has been a really refreshing look at the beginnings of our world, the foundations of theology from God’s revelation, and a convicting reminder of both humanity’s sinfulness and God’s sovereign grace. I made my way through Creation and Fall, Noah, the Tower of Babel, and Abraham… but then one story in particular – in fact just one line from Genesis 19 – blew my mind, and immediately I began to pray, think, and write.
As the story of Sodom unfolds in Genesis 19, God has sent two angels (in human form) to investigate and destroy Sodom for its immense wickedness and ‘very grave’ sin (18:20). Lot (Abraham’s nephew) met the angels at the city gates in the evening and invited them to stay at his home. Then the men in the town surround Lot’s house, demanding that Lot hand over his visitors to them “that [they] might know them,” (19:5). Now up to this point if you have no idea what’s going on, you might think that these men are a welcoming bunch and are practicing for the meet and greet time at church on Sunday. This scene is much more sinister than it appears, though, because these men have such a grave sinfulness in their hearts that they desire to gang rape Lot’s heavenly visitors (the Hebrew word translated ‘know’ conveys a bit more than a handshake and a smile if you know what I mean… in fact the English word ‘sodomy’ comes from this story). Lot goes on to demonstrate his excellent parental wisdom by offering to sate the men’s lust with his virgin daughters – to no avail. The angelic visitors pull Lot back into his house and strike the crowd (which ranges in age from young to old) with blindness… which brings us to the line that stopped me in my tracks.
“And [the angels] struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house… so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.” (Genesis 19:11 – emphasis added)
These men were so consumed with their lust and hell-bent on gratifying their wicked desire to sexually abuse two other men that even when they were miraculously struck with blindness, they continued pursuing their sin with full intention of carrying it out.
My immediate reaction to reading this astounding phrase came in the form of a few questions:
How often do I continue pursuing my sin, even when God hems in my way and disciplines me so as to show me my sinfulness?
See, I am prone to wander far from the Lord’s guidance in my own pride and arrogance. I like to try things on my own, and I like to think that my way is correct and beneficial. But when I experience God’s gracious discipline and the merciful pain that is designed to bring me to repentance (Hebrews 12:11), I must heed that conviction and truly repent – meaning that I turn away from my sin and turn toward Christ. To not heed the wisdom of Scripture and to continue on unhindered in pursuit of my sin denotes a hardness of heart that characterizes those who do not know Jesus. In other words, if the life I lead appears no different than those men in Sodom (continuing in my pursuit of sin despite divine intervention), then I have just cause to seriously question whether I am one of God’s children. The Holy Spirit not only leads us to a deeper knowledge of both God and his Scriptures, but he also brings conviction of sin for the purposes of repentance and sanctification.
What does it look like for me to wear myself out ‘groping for the door’?
· When I feel that heart check from the Holy Spirit warning me to turn from the path that I’m on and I disregard it, continuing on in my pursuit of sin, I have begun groping for the door.
· When I consciously decide to disregard Scripture or distort the clear teachings of the Bible to create ‘gray areas’ that give me license to sin, I have begun groping for the door.
· When I acknowledge the horrid effects of sin (corporate and/or personal) and continue in it anyway, I have begun groping for the door.
What will it take for me to see that the way that I’m pursuing only leads to folly, destruction, and death?
When will I repent of my sin and return to Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, who will welcome me with open arms and throw a celebration for his prodigal son (see Luke 15:11-32)?
When will I see that I am not gaining even fleeting pleasure, but rather rejecting the eternal promises of Christ and slopping around in worldly filth?
One thing that I’ve learned through my experiences with sin is that it’s actually Jesus we’re groping for and we will not truly be satisfied until we look to him (St. Augustine wrote in his “Confessions” that ‘our hearts are restless until they find rest in God’). So we will continue being frustrated and blind as long as we are pursuing unworthy ends. But as soon as we turn our affections toward Christ’s loving grace and see that he is actually not for our pain and hurt, but rather for our good and our joy, then the world begins to look wholly different. Monogamous relationships and marital fidelity are no longer shackles but rather unlock the full potential for love and intimacy. Fleshly hedonistic pursuits ring hollow and fall flat in comparison to the richness of the depth, breadth, length, height, and beauty of our Savior (Romans 11:33; Ephesians 2:7) working on our behalf for his glory – for they are not mutually exclusive, but actually work in tandem. God is both sovereign and good, and when we realize that he is not some cosmic buzzkill but rather a mighty king who saves (Zephaniah 3:17) his people from themselves, the better off we will be, and the more glorified God will be in and through our heartfelt worship in light of his unequalled grace.