Curious that she uses me as her example. Who was I but a simple woman? Perhaps she is simple, too, this woman who invokes my story to identify the path she walks.
You may know my story. You’ve heard it said of me, “she laughed.” I did. Wouldn’t you laugh too if you heard ridiculously impossible words like the ones I had?
You’ve read that I was beautiful. I was. So beautiful, in fact, that other kings tried to take me as their own as we were traveling through their land. My husband, ah my dear husband, tried to prevent problems by claiming me as his sister. (laughs) Men! Did he really think…? (shaking her head).
You know well the story of my sons. One is a promise from God; the other is the product of meddling in God’s business. We all lack faith at times.
Yes, I am Sarah, wife of Abraham, and mother of Israel. You’ve read about me and think you know my story. Yet there’s more than written lines reveal. You have read the events of our life as if an interesting drama. Yet there was more in our lives than what was seen. There was humanity unseen. Unseen, but not unknown, unseen but not unidentifiable.
To understand, you must go backward – back to a time before the drama you all know so well. Go to the beginning of our story, before the mistakes and the miracles, before the promises and the faux pas. Go from Genesis 15, 19, or 21 back to the beginning of Genesis 12. That is where my story begins.
Mine is a story of a beating heart, of fear, of untamed trust in the midst of uncertainty, of stepping blindly onto an unknown path. A simple woman with complicated emotions. A woman uprooted from what I knew and from where I belonged.
“Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household, and go to the land I will show you,” the Lord said to my husband. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you.” Abram packed up our tents as the Lord had said, and led us, with our possessions in tow, onward to the land of Canaan.
Generations of cheers honoring our obedience have drowned the sound of my first tears. Everyone appreciates the radical faith and ultimate victories. Few stop to realize what it had cost me. I knew there would be blessings ahead. But that didn’t stop the sorrow I felt and the loss I grieved with that forever goodbye. The strange lands awaited me, with strange languages and strange customs. The looks other women gave me. I was lonely and rejected, yet I faithfully pressed on with my dear Abram in blind faith. How often my heart bled to see my mother and father, to eat my food, to speak in my own language to my own people.
This, I realize, is why she identifies with me. This simple woman who, like me, packs up and goes on behalf of the call of the Lord. Some with families, some with only her husband, and some alone. She goes blindly forward showing a brave smile on the outside, yet an ocean full of battering waves on the inside, raising her up to new heights one moment, then swiftly dropping her down to where wandering questions and copious worries tread. Tears in the night, joy during the day. An infusion of bravery and fear as she sets forward on the path she was given to walk. She kisses the friendly and familiar goodbye only to meet the challenges of loneliness, rejection, and the making of her home in a new world.
Like me, this woman knows blessings will come. She knows victories await her through the trials. Whether it’s a miracle birth of a son or the miracle re-birth of many sons, she has the assurance of a glorious God that goes before her.
I don’t know her name, this woman. You may not know it either.
Most simply call her missionary.