Old What’s Her Name

Have you ever felt stuck? 

You have a sense that God is calling you to move forward…physically, vocationally, emotionally, relationally, spiritually…yet something is holding you back.  You know there is a life ahead of you requiring you to embrace change…do something different, go somewhere new…but you are reluctant.  Maybe you’re more than reluctant; maybe you’re flat out defiant.  Your life as it exists now is less than ideal but at least it’s predictable.  There’s something comfortable in predictability.  To have to give up something, maybe everything that is familiar makes you uneasy.

Do you have faith to trust God for change?  Or do you drag your feet?  Maybe it’s fear that’s holding you back, or perhaps a lack of clarity about where you are headed.  You tell yourself there’s no harm in waiting a little longer…when God makes it obvious to me WHY He wants me to move or WHERE He’s taking me, then I’ll go.

But what if tarrying comes with a price tag?  What if it disobedience to God’s call to move forward…even to a place unknown…costs you everything?

Do you remember Lot’s wife’s name?  NO?  Neither does anybody else. She was so insignificant that the Bible writer doesn’t bother to call her by name.  In Genesis 19:16 & 26 she is referred to simply as “Lot’s wife”. I’ve dubbed her “Old what’s-her-name”.  Not only do we not know her name, we don’t know much about her at all. She was a wife, a mother.  And when God asked something difficult of her, when she faced His call to move on with her life, her longing for the security of sameness destroyed her.

God said, It’s time to move. Your family depends on it. Your life depends on it. DO NOT LOOK BACK. Just MOVE!   Old-what’s-her-name was not a woman given to immediate obedience.  Can you imagine the fit she threw before she finally got on the road with her family… WHY ME?  WHY NOW?   I don’t want to move.  Where are you taking me?  What if I don’t like it there? Why is this happening to me?  Can’t this WAIT? I’m not ready to let go!!  By the time she set out, begrudgingly following her husband I would imagine that she had worked herself into quite a tizzy.

Picture it: they’re finally fleeing Sodom as God had commanded. With no time to pack, Old-what’s-her-name has left everything behind.  We know how women are. Our home is our sanctuary. Our stuff defines us. Our friends affirm our value.  We yearn for that house and neighborhood where we hang our hearts. We desire our old friends.  We crave our creature comforts. We languish for the security of familiarity.  “Old what’s-her-name” was no different. She longed for her home, the things she was leaving behind. She hated the thought of starting over!!  Having previously been an Army wife through multiple moves, I can certainly relate.

But in her pain &/or rebellion, Old-what’s-her-name made two major blunders: first, she tarried behind her husband.  She refused to walk beside him on the journey.  She hung back, probably whining, dragging her feet, and slowing down everyone else in the family as they were sent racing out of Sodom. Second, she turned around. I read a Biblical scholar who described her turning not as a glance over her shoulder but as a physical stop and turn around. She not only stopped moving forward, she turned to go back the other direction!  The result was that she was left standing there dead in her tracks-literally! 

It’s no secret God created women with a high need for security and sameness.  But men can be equally guilty when it comes to a reluctance to relinquish the things of the past and move forward.  Our Creator understands our longings and desires–He’s the one who gave them to us in the first place! He knows YOUR longings just as He knew Old-what’s-her-name’s.  Still, He gave her a journey and her journey had a purpose {to save her life}. Likewise, He has given you a journey and your journey also serves a purpose. Though it may remain unclear to you exactly what that purpose is you can be sure that God has only your GOOD in mind. God doesn’t want you to be destroyed in this process of change & uncertainty. He wants to stretch you, to grow you and ultimately to bless you & bless others through you.  In order for that to be accomplished, you cannot make the mistakes of Old-what’s-her-name.  You must not tarry and you must not look back.

In Luke 17: 32 Jesus warned about such self absorption when He said, “Remember Lot’s wife.”  {Gees, even Jesus didn’t give us her name!} I believe He wants us to remember Old-what’s-her-name not because she was anything special but because she is a classic example of how devastating it can be to live life with one foot in the future and one foot in the past.  We must trust the Lord’s plan & purpose for the future rather than trying to hold on the things of our past, including our very life as we have come to know it. Jesus was clear… “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.”  {Luke 17:33}

Contrast Old-what’s-her-name with Abraham in Genesis 12:1.  God told Abraham “Leave your country, your kinsmen, and your father’s house, and go to a country that I will show you.”  Did you get that?  Abraham had no idea where God was taking Him!  Yet in Genesis 12:4 we read,  “And so Abraham set out as the Lord had bid him…”  With no clue where he was going Abraham put one foot in front of the other and moved in faith. Only through obedience to what God had already instructed Abraham to do was he able to learn where God was taking him.

The choice is ours…either move in faith as Abraham did or tarry like Old-what’s-her-name. It’s the choice between experiencing freedom or being rendered permanently stuck.  We needn’t worry that we don’t have all the answers…God is not going to reveal more of His will until there is obedience to what He has already commanded.  But every child of His can be assured He will give just enough light for the step you are on and He will be the Wind that propels you forward when you are feeling stuck.


Published by

DiAnna Steele

Child of God, Follower of Jesus, Sister in Christ, Friend to the lost...

5 thoughts on “Old What’s Her Name”

  1. Been there! Six years ago, God called us to leave our comfort zone and go to a new church without telling us where or why. We feel some similar stirrings right now. Thanks for the encouragement to avoid the “Old-what’s-her-name Syndrome.”

  2. God has definitely called me to do this many times. Maybe that is why one of my favorite songs is “The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley. “Don’t look back you can never look back” has been my mantra for a very long time. Keep looking forward and be cheerful and trust in God when called upon to move on.

    Thanks for the “Old-what’s-her-name Syndrome ” blog.

  3. DiAnna,
    I enjoyed your writing (as always).
    In other words, if you’re a single man, don’t get married ’cause your wife’s gonna try to keep you from moving forward. Is that it? (hee hee). Or better yet, find the right one who keeps up with you, right by your side… (better).

  4. @ David…THAT explains why I’m still single…can’t find a man that can keep up with me!

    Did anybody else notice that Abraham just got on his sporty turbo camel and drove without asking directions?? Typical male! Next you guys will have us believing it’s “more spiritual” to drive “by faith” rather than stop & ask directions when you’re lost!

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