INSIDE THE HEARTS
OF BIBLE WOMEN

11 ~ Moving Again
(Sarah)

(based on Genesis 5, 11-23)





Part 1 ~ Packing
Sarah carefully picked up the treasured stone tablet and wrapped it and each of the others meticulously in separate sheep skins.  One
had been left to her family by Noah and told of the terrible flood that destroyed the earth.  Others told of the actual beginning of the world
as told to Noah by Seth, one of the sons of Adam and Eve.  Noah was 86 years old when Seth had died.

 She wondered about the times Seth must have taken young Noah down the road a few miles from Ur to where the Tigris and Euphrates
Rivers meet.  It was desolate by then, but at one time it had been the garden of God ~ the Garden of Eden.

 Finally she came to the genealogy tablets, and wrapped them as respectfully.  She spotted the name of Enoch easily, because he never
died.  When Noah was 31, his great grandfather suddenly disappeared off the face of the earth.

 Animals were still friendly in the days before the flood and before people ate meat, so he couldn't have been killed by an animal.  And no
trace of his body could be found.  Not even bones.  Finally the dumbfounded family had to admit that God took him directly to the
Paradise of heaven without ever experiencing death.  Noah had been as much influenced to serve God by Enoch as he had by old Seth.  
So next to Enoch's year of birth, his year of death was left blank.  Seth just carved in the symbol of heaven.  [1]

 Then there was Noah himself.  Sarah's father, Terah, had known Noah many years and spoken of him often.  Of course, at this time,
everyone in the world was a direct descendant of Noah.  How she wished she had been able to meet and talk with him.  But he had been
dead two years when Abraham her husband was born, and twelve years when she was born.

 So often she and Abraham felt alone in their refusal to worship the popular stone gods.  Noah must have felt alone too, and grieved.  
Even after the open gesture by God of his displeasure with sin through the flood, people still went back to worshipping stone gods they
could see.  Only one out of Noah's three sons seemed to try to honor Jehovah as the only real God, and that was Shem.

 Shem was still alive.  Sarah and her husband wanted very much to meet him some day.  He had moved to the west coast and seemed so
far away.  In his absence, his descendants had not been very loyal to Jehovah God.  Abraham and his nephew Lot were the only
descendants of Noah and Shem left who worshipped Jehovah.

 Sarah finished packing the tablets and turned her attention to other details of the long trip ahead.  They were getting ready to move
away from Ur for good.  [2]

 She didn't want to move away from her friends and brothers and sisters,  She didn't want to move away from the area that once was
graced by the Garden of Eden.  She didn't want to move away from the home of Noah.  What about his memorial?  Who would take care
of the marker after they left?  Would anyone care?  Sometimes she felt that she and her husband were the only ones left who even cared
about Noah any more.

 Sarah took a deep breath and reminded herself that God would take care of everything in his own way.  Hadn't he spoken with her
husband personally?  As she worked, she allowed her mind to wander back those few weeks before.  It must have been the middle of the
night when she heard him....  [3]

 "Sarah!"  It was a whisper, but it aroused her out of sleep.  "Sarah, wake up!"

 She sat up in bed, trying to see in the direction of her husband's familiar voice.  "What are you doing up?"

 He came closer to her and took her hands.

 "You don't even have your night clothes on.  Where have you been?"

 Abraham had an oil lamp with him and set it down near them.  The flickering light made his face seem to glow.  It was a strange
appearance.  "Sarah, he....he...."

 She put her hands on his shoulders and fixed her eyes on him.  "What is it?  What did this person do?"

 "Sarah, he was not a person.  He was God!"

 She could not speak.  She knew her husband too well to question his truthfulness.  She had heard of God speaking directly to people in
generations past.  Hadn't he spoken directly with Noah?

 "I was meditating this evening as usual.  I couldn't get those stone gods out of my mind.  How can people think something they made
could help them with their lives?  How could they betray a loving Creator for a cold lifeless statue?"

 Sarah kept wishing he would get to the point.

 "And while I was thinking of the love I felt for our caring Creator, I heard a voice.  His voice!"

 She smiled.

 "He called me by name.  'Abraham!  Abraham!'  I looked around.  There was no one.  'Abraham.'  I got up and walked around the
courtyard.  I walked outside and checked around the walls?.  I went back in to the courtyard and took the steps to the roof top.  No one
there.  No one anywhere.  But it surely wasn't a trick.

 "So I went back to where I had been meditating and looked up into the heavens.  In a few moments I heard it again.  'Abraham!'  This
time I didn't move.  And although my heart felt like it was beating out of my chest, I very quietly and steadily answered, 'Yes, Lord.  I hear
you.'  For a brief moment I caught myself feeling self-conscious for speaking into the sky.  But it didn't last."

 " 'Yes, Abraham,' he said.  'I, the God of Adam and Seth and Noah, am calling you.' "

 "Lord, what is it you want?  I am your servant.  Whatever you say, I will do."

 " 'Abraham, leave your country and your people.' "

 "Leave them?  Leave the land of Eden?"

 " 'Go to the land I will show you.' "  [4]

 "Oh Abraham, God actually spoke to you?  But where did he say to go?"

 "He told me to go to Haran, and from there he would tell me where to go after that."

 "Haran?  The city named after your deceased brother?"

 "Yes.  We will all go there.  And we'll take our aging father so we can take care of him.  And of course we'll take Lot.  Lot will be thrilled to
live in the city bearing his father's name."

 Still trying to grasp the sudden upheaval in their lives, Sarah groped within her mind for pertinent questions.

 "What will we do with our home?"

 "Give it to our other brother's oldest child."

 "Well, what about all our herds and servants?"

 "We'll take them along."

 "When?  When will all this take place?"

 "Just as soon as we can get everything packed up.  You will begin packing at daybreak.  And I will wind up all of our business here."

 "That will take us weeks."

 "So, we will take weeks.  We will take all the time we need.  For we may never return."

 "Never return?"  [5]

 With that, Sarah's mind returned to her packing.  One of her maids came into the room about that time and asked what she should do
next.  Sarah put her hand to her forehead, pushed her hair out of her eyes, and thought a minute.  She gave further instructions, and
then went to another room to begin packing there.  

 "Never return?"  The words kept coming back to her.  But, of course, it wouldn't be like they were among strangers.  After all, they were
going to the town of her deceased half-brother.  There were relatives in that city.  And Terah will be so thrilled to live there and bask in
the glory of his elder son.  She smiled.  So will Lot.  He'll love the attention.  They'll probably make him mayor.

 By the next day they should be ready to go.  Sarah had been helped by her relatives as much as they could, but often they ended up
crying and not getting anything done.  She told her sisters to go on home and just visit during the evenings when there wasn't any
packing to do.

 But now there was not much left around to entertain with.  And there was so little time left.  So Sarah went around her house checking on
all the maids to make sure they would be kept properly busy while she was gone.  She put on her shawl and headed for her older sister's
home.

 "Dear Sister," she cried when she arrived and they had put their arms around eash other once again.  "I don't want to leave you.  What
am I going to do without you?  You've been so much like a mother to me ~ ever since our own mother died."

 "Now Sarah, you're much too old to feel that way about me.  You're a grown woman and so beautiful.  You are lucky to have a husband
who loves you as Abraham does.  Go along with him.  He will establish another home for you.  He will be good to you.  You will even have
children some day.  I'm certain of it."

 "Maybe I can come back and visit you."

 "Oh, my dear little sister.  You know that may not be possible.  But perhaps whenever a caravan goes between our two cities, we can
find out from the people what each other is doing."

 "I want to go.  I know it is the right thing.  But I am so torn.  I don't want to leave so much of our family behind."

 "Abraham is your family now.  Remember, you must be willing to leave the rest of your family when you are married.  And besides, you
know I will always be with you in spirit.  We all will.  And we will pray for you too."

 "Will you pray to Jehovah for us?  Not to statues?  Please?"

 This was not the time to rehash old arguments of just who was God and who wasn't.  So her sister said she would.

 "Promise?"

 "Promise."  [6]

 Sarah walked back to her home one last time.  She walked through the now empty rooms.  How could she even say good-bye to her
house?  It was like a  part of her family too.  Silly?  Yes.  But that is how she felt.  How could she say good-bye to it too?  She decided
thoughts of a new home somewhere else would help.

 Last week they had made their last visit to the former site of the Garden.  This evening before the sun set, Abraham and Sarah walked
out to the grave of Noah.  They stood there looking at Noah's great monument.  They thought of his traveling alone admist the unknown,
frightening waters.  But he had had nothing to be afraid of.  The waters were not his enemy; they only lifted him up.

 Neither one slept that night.  Long before dawn they woke up their household help, and told them to get ready to leave.  Just as the sun
was whispering a quiet good-morning as usual, they made their way silently through the gate of their family home for the last time.  Sarah
looked back.  As they walked down the street and passed familiar sights of their growing up, she tried to etch them each one permanently
in her memory.  Finally they reached the grand gate of the great city of Ur, and went through it for the last time.

 A few days previously, Abraham had set up a camp out a little way from the city.  There he had gathered his huge herds, his herdsmen,
and his foremen.  He had a small army to protect them along the way.  Tents had been assembled there, and everything that would be
needed for the journey.  They would be living as nomads for a long time now.  [7]

 It was over 500 miles north to Haran.  They had to go slow to allow the sheep and cattle to graze.  They had to stop in time for the tents
to be pitched before dark.  And while that was being done, the women needed time to bake bread for everyone to eat.  That in itself was
monumental since there were about a hundred people in their caravan.  Once it was dark, not much of anything could be done.  Besides,
they would need all the rest they could get for the next day's travel.  And the next.  And the next.  [8]
                                                            Traveling

Each morning it was a harder struggle to get up.  Sarah was so tired of all the sand and heat.  Often on those hot days she would look
over to her right across the Tigris River which they followed to the snowy mountains beyond.  How she longed for their coolness.  

 Among their stops was Babylon, the great city surrounding the giant Tower of Babel.  She stood awe stricken at the sight of the ancient
tower.  Later they passed through Akka which, like Babel, had been named after a son of Ham, the second son of Noah.

 As the weeks passed, their northward journey along the Tigris River took them right to the foothills of those luscious cool mountains.    
They stopped in Ashur and then Nineveh, also named after Ham's sons.  Their indescribable beauty was marred by the idolatry and
human sacrifices.  She was anxious to leave those places.  [9]

 After some time, they veered away from the waters of the Trigris and headed northwest right into the mountains of Ararat.  Some 150
miles and three weeks later, they saw ahead of them their new home.  It was Haran.

 Sarah made a better adjustment to her new home than she'd expected.  Although the climate was just as hot and dry as Ur, being in the
foothills of the Ararats, when winter arrived she enjoyed the snows.  [10]

 Sometimes she and Abraham would travel to some of the nearby towns where people talked readily about the ark in the Ararat
mountains higher up.  They had left Noah's grave behind, but now she felt a certain specialness about this land where Noah and his
family lived for awhile until they could build up their herds and return south to the land of Eden where they'd first entered the ark.  Also, it
took Noah's family some time to gain the courage to leave the high country and believe that God meant it when he said he wouldn't make
it flood like that ever again.

 It made Sarah feel so much less a stranger in the new land to hear people speak so often of Noah and his dedicated wife and sons.  
Besides, she had something in common with Noah's wife.  She had been barren as Sarah was.  She gave her husband no sons until he
was 502 years old ~ far later than the average man back then had sons.  Even though they lived much longer before the flood, the age of
most child-bearing was around 100.

 How that dedicated wife must have felt during the long lonely years of empty arms, feeling so much hopeless shame before her husband
and parents' family.  But Noah had been as patient and loving and good to her as Sarah's own beloved Abraham.  Sarah knew she had to
be just as patient.

 The years passed.  And after ten barren winters, her father Terah died.  Sarah wondered whether they had fulfilled their purpose in
leaving their homeland ~ perhaps to get Terah away from the idolatry there and remind him of Noah's rescue by the true God.  Perhaps
now they could return to Ur and she could see her friends, brothers, and sisters again.  She became excited at the thought.

 Time had muted the memory of the first arduous journey.  She was very lonely for her loved ones left behind.  How many were still
living?  How many had died?  How many new children were there?  So many questions.  She wondered, and longed to go back home
now.  [11]

 "Sarah," Abraham whispered one evening in the shadow of the mountains melting into blackness.

 "Yes, my husband."

 He looked into her clear ebony eyes, so full of love for him.  "Remember Seth telling us of God speaking to his father, Noah, and telling
him to do a strange thing?"
 
 "Yes, I do remember.  He was to build a ship on dry land.  God told him He would provide the water."

 "And did God do it, Sarah?"

 "Of course he did."  At this point she smiled, for she now realized he was leading up to something.  It was so cute the way he would
gently lead her up to a point he thought she might have second thoughts on.  What was it this time?  Going back home?  She bet that's
what it was.

 "Did Noah know where the ship was supposed to take them?"  Now she wasn't expecting that question.  Noah didn't know where he was
going.

 "No.  He just obeyed what God told him to do like any trusting child would his father, and believed he would know his destination when
God was ready."

 "And Sarah, remember Noah's wife, barren for so many years?"

 He seemed to be changing subjects in mid air.  Just what was it he was leading up to?

 "Oh, indeed I do remember.  And ??Shem, righteous Shem, one day was to be her son of old age, far past the time of bearing."

 "Now Sarah, listen carefully and think before you answer.  Do you believe God could do those same things today that he did then?  
Think."

 She didn't have to think about it.  That's all that had kept her faith going all those years, knowing what Noah's wife went through.  "Yes, I
know he can.  He is all powerful and all knowing.  He is our creator, and is the life source of all things."  [12]

 "Sarah, we are about to repeat history!"

 "What?  Do you mean God brought us up near the old ark to use it again?"  Her voice mixed with excitement and apprehension.

 Abraham couldn't help but smile even in the middle of such a serious conversation.  "No, my lovely wife.  But something just as
spectacular."

 "What do you mean then?  Please explain."

 Abraham's voice became solemn again.  "Sarah God spoke to me again.  It was just as plain as your voice is now."

  "What did he say?"

 "He told me to take our household and nephew Lot and go to a new land."

 "Will Lot want to leave the city founded by his father?"

 "I am sure of it.  For what is ahead for us is not just a city, but a land, an entire nation!"

 "What are you saying?"

 "God said he would make of me a great nation, and through my descendants ~ our descendants ~ bless all the families of the earth.  
You will not be barren much longer!"

 "Oh, if that were only true!  It is true!  I know it is!"

 "Yes, it is true, for God spoke it."

 "Where is the new land?  Let us go to it soon!"

 "We are to travel south, cross the Euphrates River, and keep going until we reach a Great Sea, larger than the one near Ur.  We are to
continue south along its coast until we reach the land of Canaan, named after the youngest son of Ham's, Noah's second son."

 "Tomorrow we will begin to pack!" Sarah announced enthusiastically.  [13]

 And so Sarah moved again.  Her elation over finally being a mother, even though 65 years old, gave her extra strength to make the trip.  
It ended up being just as far as the journey from Ur to Haran ten years earlier, but her heart was involved this time.

 It was a good thing she had that enthusiasm, because she was older now and the trip was harder on her.  Of course, she didn't have to
leave behind a city she'd lived in all her life, and close relatives, and the house she'd been married in.  This was easier.  But the dust
stirred up by the traveling animals seemed to stick in her nostrils more than they had before.  Her joints seemed to ache a little more.  She
longed to get settled and on with her life and her new family.

 Her ecstasy began to wane considerably, however, when they arrived at their destination months later.  What was supposed to be lush
and fertile and flowing with milk and honey turned out to be dry and as barren as her own breasts and womb remained.  What had
happened to the promise?  It had drifted away with the sands.

 They settled awhile in Shechem, a place about midway into the land of Canaan.  Abraham worshipped God there, and God appeared to
him once again for reassurance.

 "To your offspring I will give this land."

 Despite what the land looked like, both Abraham and Sarah were thrilled to receive those reassuring words from God.  Sarah was
anxious to settle down at last.  She directed all the tents be set up carefully, for they were to be there a very long time.  She didn't know
when they'd be able to build a house.  The tents would have to do for now.  But then, they were very fine and large, and she found no
problem in setting up housekeeping among them.

 At first Abraham thought the famine would leave, but it did not.  So one day he came home and gave the word.

 "Sarah, we will have to move on."

 "But why?"

 "God has let us know this will be our land some day, but for now we'll have to leave it.  Otherwise our herds will die and so will we."

 Sarah had mixed emotions about this move.  It had been their promised land, but it certainly was dry.  Sometimes she wondered who
else in their right mind would want it.  Perhaps it would get better with time.  [14]

 So she packed everything back up, had the tents taken down, organized the caravan, and they moved once again.

 Slowly they made their way through the hills and down into the sandy valleys.  A few weeks later they arrived in an area just north of
Salem ~ some day to be called Jerusalem.   There they learned that Shem lived in Salem and was a priest of the most high God.  Actually,
he was priest-king.  This excited her.  Perhaps God meant for them to live closer to Shem, so he went the famine to discourage them and
force them to move there.  Abraham thought the same.

 They set up camp, and Abraham worshipped, calling on the name of the Lord.  He named the place Beth-el, House of the Lord.  Sarah
arranged her household once again.  Then they watched the skies.  But the drought had hit there too.  There was not enough grazing
land.  Things were difficult.  God had not spoken to Abraham here or reassured him.  So Abraham thought perhaps God wanted him to
move on.

 Several months later, Abraham went to Sarah with those words once more.  "We're going to have to move again."

 Sarah threw up her hands.  How in the world was she supposed to set up her home and get established and get everything ready for
having a family when they're always uprooting?  She certainly hoped Abraham would find his niche soon.

 Once again things were packed.  Tents were taken up.  Herds were gathered.  Servants instructed.  The caravan formed, and they
moved on.  [15]

 On their trip they passed Salem, but received no word from Shem.  So they kept going south.  And as they traveled slowly they passed a
little barren hill.  They didn't even notice it.  But some day there would be a town there.  In that town one of their descendants would be
born, and he would change the fate of mankind.  The town would be named Bethlehem.

 At last they came to an area called Negev in the extreme south part of Canaan.  There they wandered looking for a suitable place to set
up their home.  But everywhere there was barrenness and sand and dry river beds.  Their herds could not survive.

 "How could God send us to such a terrible place?  What kind of promise is this?" Sarah asked Abraham one morning at dawn as they
rose to resume their search.

 "Remember the waters Noah saw?  They looked like they could destroy him.  In fact, they could have destroyed him.  But instead they
carried him to great heights ~ they carried him to safety and finally to the mountains of Ararat near Haran.  Surely these sands will carry
us to safety and a great mountain.  We must keep searching," Abraham reassured her.

 Day after day, week after week, month after month.  She'd become a full-time nomad.  No where could she call home any longer.  Just
keep moving.  Keep moving on.

 They passed through a town called Gerar.  It was on a river, but it too had dried up.  Abraham liked the area well enough and was
reassured by the local people that the river was not always like that.

 "But you've got so many people in your company," they advised, "you really ought to keep going until you get to Egypt.  It's not that
much farther to the west.  There is a great river there that never dries up.  You will be welcome and can stay until the drought is over.  If
you want to return here afterwards, you would be most welcome."

 So Abraham went back to his wife at the camp with the news.  [16]
                                                    Part 3 ~ Settling In

 "Sarah, we are going to the land called Egypt where there is a fertile river valley called Nile.  Their customs are as strange to us as we
will be to them.  But we will not stay there forever.  We will return some day to our promised land.  God promised, and so do I.  So, Sarah
moved again.

 As they entered the land of Egypt, Abraham realized just how great a nation this was.  He knew this could possibly be the most powerful
nation on earth at this time.  It was indeed exciting.  At the same time there was something gnawing at him, and he wasn't quite sure how
to handle it.  He finally made up his mind.

 "Sarah, the king is very powerful here.  Although I have over 300 men in my own army, I cannot possibly compete with this great king."

 "I understand," she replied, again wondering what he was leading up to.

 "You are a middle-aged woman of 65 and still very beautiful.  I am afraid the king will kill me so he can marry you."

 "Abraham, let's turn around and go back.  I do not want to lose you.  I love you and need you so very much.  Please say we don't have
to stay here."

 "I have a plan.  We must stay here or starve to death.  If anyone asks, we will just say you are my sister, which in one sense you are."

 "Terah was my father as well as yours, this I realize.  But we had different mothers and the law allowed us to marry.  I am now your wife
and will be until the day I die.  No one can change that."

 "Do as I say, Sarah."

 She knew better than to say any more, and nodded her head in hesitating agreement.  Suddenly she felt empty.  Would she become a
woman with no family?

 At this point she already felt like a person with no country.  Too far from her homeland and Ur.  Too far from Haran now.  Given a land
that they could not possess, and one which no one else seemed to want either.  And now entering an even more hostile country.  When
would it all end?  [17]

 They traveled another hundred miles into the new land.  Now they were some 500 miles away from their promise.  Their new possession
had fallen through.  Sarah was still barren.  And now they were having to risk their lives in a land even farther than ever from Ur.

 Soon they would be 1500 miles away from their homeland, and in a country of strangers they were afraid would be hostile.  Sarah fought
back her tears day by day as they continued to travel.  But during the night those tears flowed freely until she fell asleep in exhaustion.

      At last after months of mind- and body-numbing travel through Canaan and now Egypt, they arrived at their destination.  Abraham
pitched the tents in a lush green plain, large enough for the family and servants, along with the flocks and herdsmen.

 Abraham had received great respect in all his travels.  Of course, having his own army helped maintain that respect.  But not to the
degree that he received it from the Pharaoh.  Abraham's reputation had preceded him.  Thus far, Abraham had not run into a king quite
this rich and powerful, and therefore had not realized the extent of the impression he had made on the people in whose land he had been
moving around.

 After all, Abraham's caravan consisted of several hundreds.  So large were his herds and treasures and the number of his servants that
he had a small army to protect them as he traveled.  So not only were his riches respected, but also his army.  Yet equal to the degree to
which Abraham was received in the new land were his fears.

 Some Egyptians, being familiar with the local customs, were hired as added servants.  Among them was a young woman named Hagar.   
She seemed nice enough.  The Egyptian women were the first to see Sarah with her veil off, since she always wore it in public here.  They
were amazed at her beauty, despite her age.  And soon it was being told everywhere.  [18]

 Whenever Sarah went out to the nearby town dressed in the elegant robes Abraham often bought for her, the men tried to get a glance
of her.  Only her eyes showed, but if they were any indication of the rest of her beauty, she was an elegant and beautiful lady indeed.  
Surely she lived up to her name ~ Princess.

 "Who is that woman?"

 "Her servants say she is the sister of Prince Abraham of Babylon."

 The word spread until the princes of Pharaoh's palace even heard about her.  When Abraham invited the Egyptian nobility into his home
for a feast, they saw for themselves.  And soon the word was taken to Pharaoh himself.

 "This princess Sarah has such beauty as we have never seen.  She is from the land of our forgotten ancestors many miles toward the
rising sun."

 "Bring her to me.  I must see her for myself.  Besides, she might come in handy to create an alliance between Egypt and Prince
Abraham."  Pharaoh, of course, was obeyed.

 "Sarah," said Abraham later that day when the palace servant came to get her, "they have come for you as I was afraid they would.  
Remember, you are my sister.  Pharaoh will slay me if he learns any different.  May our God go with you."

 He kissed her one last time and embraced her.  Then they walked out of the tent together.

 Sarah went without him to Pharaoh's palace.  There she was put with the other women waiting to be sent for by the king.  Frightened,
she wondered about God's promise.  Had they done all that traveling, all that moving around for this?  How could Abraham become the
father of a great nation now?  Would she ever see him again?  How could he bring her to such a country knowing this would probably
happen?  Her eyes filled with tears again, as they did easily in those days of her life.  Then a terrible thought occurred to her:  Surely God
didn't mean Abraham would have his promised child by another wife.  Or worse yet, Abraham would be discovered and killed, and God's
promise with him.

 "Oh, my God.  What has happened to me?  What will happen to my husband?" she groaned.  "Oh God, where are you?  Are you still
with us?  Please do not forsake us.  Do not forsake me.  Remember your promise and help us.  Help me."  [19]

 Even so, the days passed, waiting and wondering.  There were rumors around the palace about Sarah and Abraham ~ the way he often
had looked at her and all.  Then the sickness came and the terrible diseases.  All over the palace.  All through Pharaoh's household.  
Sickness and death.  Pharaoh's wise men traced back the beginning of the sickness to Sarah coming into the palace.  What terrible thing
had she brought with her?

 Immediately Pharaoh summoned Abraham.

  "What is this that you have done to me?  Sarah is your wife, isn't she?  Well, isn't she?  I demand an answer!"

 Abraham, as powerful as he was, trembled from within.  "Yes, Your majesty."  He looked around subtly to see which guards would take
him to his execution.  He breathed a prayer for help to get out of this mess he had created.

 "Oh God, I had to lie.  It was the only way.  How could the promise be fulfilled otherwise, with me dead?  It was for your sake I did it."  He
only half  believed his own prayer.

 Abraham interrupted his thoughts to hear Pharaoh demand, "Why did you say she was your sister?  Why?  I took her to become my
wife!"

 Abraham felt someone familiar coming toward him.  It was Sarah!  They were both to be executed.  "Oh God, not her too."

 "Now then, here is your wife back."

 Was he believing his ears?

 "Take her and go," Pharaoh demanded.  "Leave my palace.  Leave my country.  You are no longer welcome here.  Get everything out of
our fields that belongs to you, and all your servants and belongings, and leave.  Would you bring your famine here too?  You are a curse
to us, Abraham!  Go!"

 Grateful for banishment rather than execution, the couple left the palace.  Amidst further humiliation, Sarah packed again.  A few days
later, their caravan made its way through the roads of Egypt for the last time ~ in shame.  [20]

 Again they traveled.  Where to now?  Always moving.  Just where does God want them?

 "We will return to Canaan, to the place called Beth-el where we pitched our tents before.  This time we will settle there for better or for
worse?.  We will stay no matter what.  I will sacrifice to God there and ask his forgiveness for my foolishness.  We should have never left
the land of his promise.  He never meant for us to."

 They returned through the southland of Negev and then turned northward.  Again their travel took months.  It was 500 miles.  With more
herds and people than ever, it was impossible to cover more than about 10 or 12 miles a day.  Sarah was beginning to wonder if she'd
ever have a home of her own again.

 "We will settle down there.  I promise.  And there we will wait for God."  She tried to believe Abraham.  After all, he never really meant
anything but good for her.

 As they made their way north, they began to see that things were a little better now.  Plains a little greener. Creeks a little fuller.  Rivers
now reestablishing themselves.  Surely this time....

 Indeed they did settle in Beth-el right in the very spot they had been before.  True, God had not told Abraham that's where he wanted
him to settle, but it was near Priest-King Shem in Salem, so it seemed reasonable enough.

 Sarah saw how green the plains were this time.  The barrenness now mostly gone  Everything was so lush and bountiful.  The land of
milk and honey.  Perhaps its reputation was an accurate one after all.

It felt so good to settle in at last.  She could hardly believe it.  It had taken them a full year to inch their way across and down from Haran
to Canaan.  Then they had spent another year trying to find some place to settle during the drought.  Another year in Egypt.  And another
year returning to Bethel.  It was hard to believe this much time had passed since God told Abraham to go to his promised land.  But this
just showed that patience bears great fruits in the end.

 And now, too, without all the bouncing around from traveling, she would be able to become pregnant with that promised child in the
promised land.

 Sarah planned so carefully how she would have all the tents set up.  She had some of them replaced with mucy nicer ones since she
knew they'd be settling down now, and she wanted something nice to live in until they could build a permanent house.  Sometimes she
drew in the dirt where she'd like to locate the rooms in her new house.  Of course there would have to be extra rooms for their child ~ or
even children.  Yes, her patience would now reap its rewards.

 Or would it?  [21]

 Trouble was beginning to develop between Abraham's herdsmen and Lot's herdsmen.  Yes, Lot had been with them the whole way.  
Sarah had become close to Lot's wife during all this time, and felt it was a shame to lose that close friendship because of their herdsmen.

 "I will have a talk with Lot," Abraham told her.  "We've got to settle this problem before it gets out of hand.  After all, we are brothers."

 The next day it happened.  Sarah could not believe it.  She would not believe it.  How could she pull up her roots again?  It was not fair.

 Yes, Abraham had had his talk with Lot and suggested they separate themselves far enough away that there would be no chance of
confusion over their herds and possessions.  He gave Lot the choice, and Lot decided to stay where he was.  So Abraham agreed and
said he'd move.

 "Move?  No.  I cannot move.  Not again, I just can't, Abraham."

 "Sarah, God knew it would be difficult for us.  So he has done something very special."

 She softened.  "He spoke to you again?"

 "Yes.  It was right after Lot left.  I was standing there on that bluff overlooking all those green plains, and trying to decide where exactly
we would resettle?.  Then I heard his voice.  I can tell you word for word what he told me.  Please, Sarah, listen to God's promise to us."

 She sat down and waited while her husband turned his eyes away from her and looked out across the fields in front of them.  Then he
recalled the words of God.

 " 'Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west.  All the land that you see I will give to you and your
offspring forever.  I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be
counted.  Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.' "

 She could not speak for a few moments.  He sat down beside her and they held each other's hands in silence.  She began to weep.

 "Abraham, we needed that reassurance from God.  We needed it.  Or at least I needed it."  [22]

 "Yes, I did too.  It has been very hard.  I am so proud of the way you have stuck it out for so long, moving and searching for the elusive
promise.  But it is out there.  We know that, don't we?"

 She looked into his eyes and smiled.  "Yes, we know the promise is there."

 Bravely, Sarah repacked her things and had her tents taken up, folded, and placed on the camels.  She said goodbye to Lots' family,
promised to visit sometimes, and left.

 "At least it isn't so far this time.  We're just going about fifty miles away.  That will only take us a week."  Sarah laughed.  "That should be
a snap to old moving pros like us."

 Abraham was grateful for her hardy spirit.  He felt lucky to have her.

The location Abraham selected for them in Hebron was among many beautiful giant trees.  The plains were not as lush and bountiful, but
at least they had a beautiful place to build their home.

 At last Sarah was able to settle in.  After awhile, she was glad that they had moved.  She received word that Lot's family had been
captured and nearly killed with the city they lived in by some intruding kings.  Luckily, Abraham was more powerful by this time than all five
kings and able to overrun them and free Lot and the others in time.

 On Abraham's way back home, he passed near Salem again.  This time he met Shem, king and priest of God Most High.  What an
inspiration this was to Abraham to meet Noah's son at long last.  [23]

 But still Sarah had not gotten pregnant.  Over and over they prayed about it.  They weren't traveling any more.  Sarah was eating well.  
She seemed healthy enough.

 One night very late, Abraham came into her tent.  He had his lamp with him, and it reminded her of years before when he had come to
her like this.  He seemed to have that same glow about him as the lamp light flickered in the darkness.

 "He spoke to you again, didn't he?"

 Abraham knew she understood.  "Yes, he did.  But it was not like the other times.  We talked and struggled together for a long time.  I
told him I didn't understand why you remained childless, and asked if perhaps my most trusted servant was really the son God had
meant.  He assured me he was not.

 "Then he showed me the stars and dared that I count them.  That is how many descendants we will have some day he said.  And they
will inherit this very land.  Then he explained more of the details of this nation we will begin some day through our child.

 "God said that our grandchildren will go to a strange land and multiply there and become great there.  And while their numbers grow, the
people of Canaan will get more and more wicked.  When they reached the height of their evil, God will let our descendants come back to
Canaan to punish them.  Then they will take possession of the promised land."

 Sarah had mixed feelings again.  She was relieved to know that the promised son would truly come through her.  But she was just as
anxious to take over the land to prepare it for their descendants.

 "When will that take place?  When will they take over the land?"

 Abraham answered as kindly as he could.  "In four hundred years."

 Shocked, Sarah replied, "But Abraham, we will never be able to see it happen.  People don't live that long any more.  Why can't God
make it happen now?  If I could have ten sons, we could multiply faster.  It wouldn't take four hundred years ~ maybe only forty."

 "Sarah, God knows things we do not.  His way is best.  Our part is to wait and have faith that we will not live out our lives in this strange
land for nothing.  We will never see it happen ourselves.  But it will happen, just as God said.  Through you and me God will bring forth a
whole nation as numerous as the stars, and will bless all men through us.  Do you believe this, Sarah?"

 She went from disappointed to sad to angry.  Abraham waited.  She sighed?  "Yes, Abraham.  I really do believe.  We will leave all in
God's hands and it will be done."  But secretly she wondered.

 Sarah did indeed stay in Hebron.  And when she was 89 years old, God returned and told Abraham she would now become pregnant.  
By this time they had both decided that perhaps God had meant a figurative son or a spiritual son or something such as that.  But he
hadn't.  When finally God did tell Abraham the time had come, Abraham laughed.  He laughed because he thought surely not at this late
stage.  He laughed because he was now so old.  He laughed out of confusion, disbelief, joy.

 His wife did the same.  She was so far past child-bearing age.  She said, "After I am worn out and my husband is old, will I now have this
pleasure?"  She was caught laughing by the angel who delivered the message and suddenly grew scared and denied it.  But she hadn't
anything to worry about.  Laughter at this stage was a natural reaction.  Laughter for all kinds of reasons.

 They decided they'd even name their son Laughter.  He would be called Isaac.  [24]

 As if this hadn't been enough excitement, Sarah was given another surprise.  They were actually moving again.

 This was not the kind of excitement she wanted.  Abraham thought it would be better, however.  The terror of Sodom and Gomorrah
being destroyed about that same time worried Abraham.  People in cities of that area were becoming distrustful of these immigrants.  He
felt it would be safer to move just as far south in his promised land as possible.

 Sarah did very little of the packing this time.  She would not do anything to lose this child within her womb.  She decided how the packing
would be done, and by then had enough servants that they could carry it all out nearly as well as she.

 The move took a little over a week.  They moved extremely slowly.  Finally they arrived at Gerar.  But despite Sarah's age and
pregnancy, they had the same problem with the king there that they had with Pharaoh fifteen years earlier.  The king here wanted Sarah
for his wife.  So they had to move on.

 This time they went to a place to the east but still in the south part of Canaan.  He dug a well here and settled down.  He named the
place Beersheba, meaning well of the oath.  There the long-promised son, Isaac, was born.  Sarah was 90 years old.

 It had been nearly half a century since Abraham had received that first command by God to move to their promised land, their heaven
on earth.  They had done what God told them.  The moving was always hard, and often they wondered.  But deep down they never really
doubted.

 After her son was born, Sarah was allowed to rest.  The promise, as far as she was concerned, had been fulfilled.  She had received her
son from the Lord.  She had received the land for her son.  

 Sarah made one last move.  Back to Hebron.  And when her promised son was 37 years old, with contentment and serenity in her heart,
Sarah died.  And went to her eternal promised land. [25]
                                            THOUGHT QUESTIONS

                                                  Part 1 ~ Packing

1.          In making a major move to another city or even country as Sarah had to do, how did you feel about the necessity of deciding what things to
take and what to leave behind?  Did your indecision (James 1:8) make you feel a little unstable?          

2.          How did you finally decide what to take and what to leave behind?  Did you use Luke 12:34 as a kind of guide?  How did you decide through
your heart just what was treasured enough to take along?

3.          Sarah had to leave a place where her family had lived for generations.  Does God generally consider such uprooting a good experience
(Deuteronomy 29:28)?  How would such a move affect you?  Do you think taking photos of old familiar places and people (something not available to
Sarah) would ease the transition?

4.          People do not normally uproot themselves from where their family has lived for generations except for very important reasons.  Sarah's and
Abraham's reason was religious (Joshua 24:2).  What are some reasons today people uproot themselves?

5.          In today's society as well as Sarah's, it is usually the husband's decision to make such a drastic move.  Compare Sarah's probable feelings as
she listened to her husband's vision, and your or a friend's similar experience.  Might 2 Corinthians 9:8 help?

6.          During the days of sorting and packing and getting tired and continual good-byes, how can 2 Timothy 1:7 help?

7.          In order to get rid of depressing or fearful thoughts, we must replace them with good thoughts (Matthew 12:43-45).  In order to replace the
grief of leaving, we must find some exciting things about where we're moving to.  How can this be done?

GOOD WORK:  Write a note to someone who has just learned they must move.  Tell them you will miss them but wish them luck.  Send one note a day
from each person in your discussion group.


                                                    Part 2 ~ Traveling

8.          The strength and alertness of the traveling family needs to be kept up.  Camping along the way as Sarah did can have its benefits.  Read Psalm
78:72 and discuss how proper nutrition helps and how to maintain it on a long trip.  Also read and discuss Proverbs 17:22 in this light.

9.          Sarah experienced a very long transition.  The move to Haran must have taken two or three months at least (10 miles per day maximum).  A
long move today is considered a week.  What can be done in preparation to make each day of the trip exciting rather than a drudgery?  Use your
imagination.  See also Psalm 24:1.

10.          Sarah's family moved to a town established by her deceased half-brother.  A new family arriving in a new town of complete strangers faces a
greater difficulty.  Suggest some things that should be done to begin a mutual feeling of acceptance as soon as possible.  Acts 17:1,2 gives one important
thing to do.  Why is it important?  What else is?

11.          Sarah must have wondered many times what was happening to loved ones left behind.  While away from family "back home" whether just a
few years or permanently, what today must be faithfully done to remain in touch and maintain ties?  One of these is mentioned in Acts 1:1; apply it to
your family.

12.          How does faith affect our attitude toward difficult times?  What should be in the company of faith to make it effective (1 Corinthians 13:13)?

13.          Their father Terah died, and Abraham told Sarah they would have to move again.  But after the move, she would at last become a mother
(Genesis 12:2).  How can a personal benefit to moving make a difference to family members?

14.          Sarah must have been extremely disappointed arriving in the promised land just in time for a draught.  Have you or a friend ever moved and
found upon arrival that things weren't as bright as they had been pictured?  Tell about it and how you or they coped.  What scriptures would help in a
time like this?

15.          Sarah probably had an easier time settling down after her second move, which was to Shechem in Canaan.  How can recalling good and bad
decisions of your first move help?  Consider Proverbs 24:3-5.  Give examples where you did things differently on a second move.

GOOD WORK:  Write suggestions on how to keep children happy on a long trip.  Send them to someone with children getting ready to move or who
plans a long vacation.


                                                    Part 3 ~  Settling In

16.          Sarah settled her family several places temporarily.  Do you know anyone who was required to move every year or two?  Making a few
friends quickly at each location rather than trying to make many friends is one key to surviving this period.  Acts 16:12-14 tells of two such temporaries
who met each other.  How did they handle this problem?

17.          Have you ever known anyone to move with their husband when they knew the move was wrong?  How did they handle it?  Might Psalm 23
help?  What others?

18.          Sarah must have suffered culture shock as much as we do today in drastic moves.  In what ways do we feel culture shock moving from
north to south and east to west?  How about facing prejudices?  How do you think Sarah coped?  See 1 Corinthians 9:22b; are there any limits to this?

19.          Through the ups and downs, the elation and doubts of all the moves chasing the illusive dream, what do you think helped Sarah keep going?  
Refer to Hebrews 11:8-10.

20.          Sarah and Abraham moved away from Egypt in embarrassment and shame.  Have you ever or do you know of anyone who moved from an
area to get away from a bad experience?  Do you know anyone who made such a move successfully?  How?  Consider Philippians 3:14.

21.        Through all the moving, one thread wove through Sarah's life that kept her going:  The divinely promised child.  Tell of a thread that kept the
hope and courage going for you or someone you know under similar circumstances?

22.          There are times when we have to hand everything over to God because we do not believe we can go on.  How do you think Sarah applied
Psalm 6 to her life?

23.          How can we obtain strength and courage from an older person we admire (Titus 2:2,3)?

24.          How can a sense of humor help such strain; that is, seeing humor in stress as well as good things?  Jesus used it speaking of the splinter and
the log (Matthew 7:3,4).  Give some personal examples.

25.          Going through the stress of moving as many times as this couple did must have made them feel closer.  Give instances where a marriage was
made stronger as a result of similar struggles.  Consider Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 and Proverbs 17:17 in this light.

GOOD WORK:  Write a welcome note to a newcomer.  Check church attendance cards for visitors, or Welcome Wagon, etc.