She, her husband, and their three young children packed all their belongings in ten suitcases, boarded a plane for the Middle East, and set off to start a new life ministering in a Muslim country.
Already they have faced many unknowns that would drive most of us into a tizzy — such as how they will school their kids, where they’ll be living, and how language school will work with caring for a family, among many others. But Sarah went joyfully, knowing this was God’s call on her family’s life.
A Surprising Insight from Babel
Some women in our church have been studying the book of Genesis, using The Promised One by Nancy Guthrie. Not long ago, we came across the infamous story of the Tower of Babel from Genesis 11. Although we might mainly associate this story with God’s judgment and the beginning of new languages, we found another application especially relevant to Sarah — actually, to anyone whom God is calling to transition in some way.
In Genesis 9:1, God tells Noah and his sons to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” This, in effect, was telling Noah to repopulate the earth after the Flood. “Filling the earth” was a command to spread out across the earth, so that God’s redemptive purposes could unfold in every land, to all peoples.
But when we come to Genesis 11, we see the people deliberately disobeying God’s command. Instead of spreading out in order to fill the earth, the people found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there together. They obviously enjoyed being together and wanted to live in the same place. So they decided to work together to build a city and a tower in order to make a name for themselves. The focus became what they wanted and desired instead of God’s desires for them.
Genesis 11:4 says, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” But God was not amused by the people’s scheme. In an act of both judgment and mercy, he confused their language so they could no longer understand each other. He dispersed them over the face of all the earth. So what does this have to do with us — and with Sarah and her family?
Our Love of Comfort
As human beings, and women in particular, we are drawn to comfort and security. It comes very naturally to want to be with people like us, with our families and friends. But God’s calling on our lives is not, “Go, live by your families and friends and enjoy life together.” But much like God’s command to Noah and his sons to fill the earth, Jesus says, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
This past year, I’ve felt God impressing on me the idea that I need to hold all things he gives me with an open hand: my husband, children, friends, home, church, belongings, everything. They are not mine to keep. They are on loan to me for God’s good purposes. It has been good to question whether I am willing to give up comfort and security in order to follow God.
Sarah is an example of a woman who is leaving the comfort and security of all that is familiar — family, friends, church, language, culture, and country — in order to go to a hard place. Everything will be new, including learning a new language and ministering among a Muslim nation. I am grateful for her example of joyfully following her husband’s leadership, and being willing to do some very tough things, in order to make God’s name great.
With Open Hand and Every Need Met
So that is my question and challenge for us here. Are we holding our plans loosely? Are we willing to follow God’s call, even when it means leaving our most precious relationships, homes and culture? God doesn’t call all of us to move overseas, but are we willing to go where he calls us — a new neighborhood or school, a new vocation or ministry, a new city or state, a new culture or country?
God is worthy of our trust as he leads us on the path to make his name known, and he will prove utterly reliable. As he has shown us in the gift of his Son, he will not let any obstacle come between us and his good purposes for our lives in the midst of difficulty. AsPhilippians 4:19 reminds us, our God “will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” God will prove himself to be more than enough, for Sarah, and for you.