In his preoccupation with comparisons, the worried person finally forgets altogether that he is a human being. He despair­ingly thinks of himself as being so different from others that he even believes he is different in his very humanity.

― Søren Kierkegaard

Scripture: Genesis 13.10

And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. — Genesis 13.10

Reflection: Striving for What’s Promised
The Park Forum

The voice in Genesis 13.10 breaks from that of the narrator, writes Biblical scholar Robert Alter, revealing the thoughts of Lot as he surveys the land. Far beyond an opportunistic play for better land, Lot seeks to return to “the garden of the Lord”—to Eden itself, where God and humankind walked together.

This desire is, of course, woven into Lot’s nature as a human. It is a longing which Scripture says will one day be fulfilled. But not like this. Not as the fruit of argument (Lot and Abram’s herdsmen were in conflict) and the effect of grasping for more.

The temptation Christ faced in the wilderness was similar, at least in substance. After wandering  through the barren land for weeks, the offer was made: quench your material longings by your own ability. Sustenance, validation, and power—all within reach. All rightfully his. Jesus’ reply? In the end, that wouldn’t satisfy my deepest longings.

Jesus saw past receiving what was promised, looking to the relationship from which he was supposed to draw all his needs. Lot found a way to satisfy his longings through his own power. Pastor Timothy Keller observes:

That’s hyperbolic language, Robert Alter says, but it is spiritually significant… [Lot] wants the garden of the Lord without the Lord! How can you have the garden of the Lord without the Lord? How can you have that kind of satisfaction, how can you have that kind of contentment, and how can you have that kind of sense of success without him?

We have so many appetites—find a way to fulfill them on your own and you’ll still be hungry.

The Concluding Prayer of the Church

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phylis Tickle

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Reading
Genesis 13 (Listen – 2:16)
Matthew 12 (Listen – 6:41)