One theme common to many great stories is the idea of the quest. Any time the author takes the character on a journey, you can be sure there will be some sort of growth and self-discovery to follow. Whether it is Huck Finn rafting down the Mississippi or Bilbo Baggins making his way through Middle Earth, quests make for exciting reading.
Most quests and adventures include the same elements: the character making the journey, the place they are going, the stated reason to go there, challenges and trials along the way, and finally, the discovery. What was the real reason they needed to make this trip?
As Christ-followers, participants in God’s greater, grander story, we have quests of our own. This journey called “sanctification” can be a wild and wooly one. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could learn from someone else, who also went on a quest of her own? Sisters, meet Sarah.
We are introduced to this woman, originally called Sarai, whose name means “princess,” along with her husband Abram. She doesn’t seem like a candidate for a heroine; she’s just an ordinary woman, whose husband springs some news on her one day: Pack up. We’re moving.
Whoa! I’m sure her first questions were the same as ours would be. Where? And why? And that brings us to parts 2 and 3 of our necessary requirements. Sarah is leaving the only home she has ever known and is going to the promised land. The reason was given to her husband. “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great so that you will be a blessing.” Was Sarah excited? Was she nervous? She was about to begin the adventure of a lifetime! Was this journey of hope and expectation going to be life-changing? What was at the other end? Would Canaan welcome these travelers?
These travelers had their share of trials. It goes with the territory. Every quest will have its struggles, and glitches, and setbacks. Look at poor Sarah. There was the “just pretend you’re my sister” plan. (Really, Abram? You can almost hear him saying “Just go with it. Take one for the team, Sarah!”) But even Sarah herself had lapses in judgment. Lapses? No, this was more like the Grand Canyon of terrible decisions. “This child thing? Not happening. Let’s forget God’s plan A and just put plan B into action. He won’t mind.” Uh-oh. These are the challenges that change the traveler. They happen to us as well!
Like Abraham, someone else makes a bad decision that affects us. It might be our husband or it might be our boss or someone in leadership. Like Sarah, maybe we are the ones who make the bad decision. We buy the wrong curriculum for our homeschool, we sign up for the extra-curricular activity that eats our lunch…and dinner…and oh drats, we aren’t eating any more at all, we are grabbing Chick-Fil-A and snacking in the car! Did Sarah want to give up? I’m sure she had her moments. So much for #promisedland. #faithjourney. I imagine that somehow, some way, God was able to reach her, very gently and very tenderly. Sarah, there is no plan B. You and Abraham are the ones. This is the kind of God we love. The one who in Jeremiah 31:3 tells us, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” Sanctification involves suffering and sometimes holiness hurts, but God’s steadfast love is always there.
The Reason for the Journey
In the midst of the trials, when things look impossible, we come to the real reason for the trip. The reason we didn’t plan or expect, but the reason the Lord wanted to show us all along. For Sarah, this meant arriving in the promised land and it meant finally having a son of her own. But there is more! In 1 Peter 3:5-6 we read:
For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life…”
“The grace of life.” Of course that points to Jesus, the giver of all grace. Speaking of gifts, Sarah not only got a home and a family and a son, she also got daughters! That’s us! We are all heirs of God’s covenant, his covenant people, the ones he calls his own. We have the blessing of belonging. I wonder if Sarah even imagined!
Sisters in Christ, if I can encourage you today on your own quest, may it be with the same words we read above. There is hope in your journey if you hope in God. There is no reason to fear anything that is frightening when the author of your story is Jesus.
About the Author:
Renee is passionate about teaching. She loves nothing more than to gather around God’s word with the women of Christ Church in Katy, Texas. She also teaches high-school writing and literature at PREP classes, a homeschool tutorial, as well as mentoring Classical Christian teachers through the CiRCE Institute, and serving on the advisory board of Covenant College. She and her husband Steve have 5 children and 7 grandchildren and Renee’s suitcase is always ready for the next trip. Closer to home you can find her baking, weightlifting, or trying one of Houston’s new restaurants.