SARAH (SARAI) from barrenness of soul to prophet—and the world’s matriarch
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READING TIME: 6 MINUTES.
Flashes of His light. A moment of revelation. The soul pricked with divine sparks. That was Sarah as every crack of lightning cut through her story. The call from the polytheistic, cosmopolitan Ur to Haran, move from Haran to Canaan, dealings with Lot, battle with the five kings, sweepings into pharaoh’s and Abimelech’s harems.
Something had to be learned here, absorbed here, infused here, stripped here in order to birth something of greater magnitude later.
Sarah was strong, independent, vocal, and faithful to God’s calling on her soul. Rashi, a renowned medieval French rabbi, said the various meanings of her name reveal Sarah’s identity, her soul’s ascent as it were: divine spirit, beauty, royal leadership, and prophetic gifting that surpassed Abraham’s.
After all, God did say, “Everything Sarah says to you—listen to her voice.” Genesis 21:12.
Yet the catalyst of Sarah’s story—barrenness—could reveal even more.
Sketchy pieces of her earlier story appear in Genesis 11:29-31, before God renamed her (Sarai to Sarah) and her husband (Abram to Abraham). “The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai . . . And Sarai was barren; she had no child . . . And Terach took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran, his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there . . . And the days of Terach were 205 years; Terach died in Haran.”
The next line begins chapter 12 and jumps right to God giving Abram the “lech lecha” command. Meaning, go for yourself, to yourself, into yourself. But hold up. How did Abram know God at this point? There’s no introduction—unlike when God introduces Himself to Moses in Exodus 3 at the burning bush.
Not to mention that Terach, Abram’s father, was an idolater and an idol maker, per midrash. And why was Terach moving Abram, Sarai, and the rest of the clan initially to Canaan? And what was the point of stopping in Haran, staying there instead of reaching their destination?
BACKSTORY: WHAT’S NOT SAID
Some rabbinic teachings suggest that Abram got the call of God—or perhaps, the introduction to Him—earlier in Ur, where he convinced his father to head out toward Canaan. Rabbi Meir Schweiger of Pardes Institute posited in a 2008 podcast on the Lech Lecha Torah portion that Terach may have thought, why not? Change your locale, you could change your luck. 
Couldn’t hurt. Sarai was barren, after all. Things just may do a turnaround.
But Canaan wasn’t Terach’s calling—it was Abram’s. Terach stopped along the way after setting eyes on Haran . . . perhaps distracted by what it offered or perhaps seeing it as a place to profit for his idol business. He apparently wasn’t someone with “spiritual” endeavors in mind, someone who could keep his eye on the goal and finish the task—namely, Canaan.
As a result, Abram and Sarai were interrupted from their destiny call to Canaan until Terach dies. They lived those years with their souls compressurized in a pagan family that had a pagan business, in a pagan city, in a pagan world. When the lech lecha command came forth in Genesis 12, Abram is 75 and Sarai is 65.
Her soul had to be freed from its barrenness.
Even though she had met the one true God,
her life had been steeped in the lie of paganism.
It was as if God were saying . . .
You’ve met me, but I need to take you through a series of events
to tenderize your soul and work out the toxic lies of satan
and the human viewpoint that has been polluting your soul.
I need you to come away with me
to remove any earthbound holds on your soul . . .
to remove all ties with darkness
so my Presence can flood every part of your soul
(breath, spirit/wind, rested breath/life force)
where I will release My voice, My truth of who I am
so you can discover the truth of who you are in me,
what I’ve called you to be.
THE DAYS IN BETWEEN
Anticipation. Frustration. Each month, watching for signs of a pregnancy. Years passed. Was it a curse or sin? A divine abandonment? Something more . . . something different?
Sarai had her questions, maybe her doubts.
Could her soul even breathe in its barren exile—or did that empty nest, as some rabbinic teachings suggest, give rise to her independence and a more visible position along side her husband?
Was she consistently inundated with her in-law’s pagan fertility rituals, which added more pressure, physically and spiritually?
Did she eventually bury the hope of a child and learn to find contentment in her relationship and gifting from the one true God?
Actually, there’s a possibility that, in time, Sarai started growing and flowing in her barren state, and perhaps—with God’s strength—even getting a bit comfortable in her motherless wife role—free to move about, spiritually partnering with her husband.
But perhaps . . . perhaps that hope kept gnawing down deep within.
BELOVED, gaze in thine own heart,
The holy tree is growing there;
From joy the holy branches start,
And all the trembling flowers they bear.
—The Two Trees, W.B. Yeats
PHYSICAL JOURNEYS MIRROR THE SOUL’S INNER JOURNEY
Pressurized, stark, or barren situations in the natural reflect, ignite, and even move the tensions within the soul.
Like you and me, Sarai’s come-away-with-me, lech lecha call from God was no different.
She and Abram sojourned in the physical desert—living nomadically, in infertility, leaving all that was common, their land, birthplace, and relatives, entertaining guests and angels—while traversing the untapped spiritual terrain within their souls. 
Up probably felt like down. Down felt like up. A sojourn wrought with emotional, physical, and spiritual trials—not to mention those infamous family matters. Certainly, no cakewalk.
Promises from God were still sitting on the table.
But they couldn’t be touched or lived out until decades later.
When God gave 86-year-old Abram the promise of having a child by his loins, the bold, faithful Sarai came up with a plan of how they could fulfill God’s decree—a “solution” in the natural that lagged lightyears behind God’s intentions.
Enter stage left, Hagar.
Sarai’s so-called plan (using her Egyptian maidservant as a surrogate vs. God’s plan, having a child birthed by Sarai) resulted in another 13 years of deconstruction-reconstruction soul work for her and Abram—enduring and resolving the consequences of her prior getting-ahead-of-God decision to use Hagar.
Since Hagar’s son with Abram—Ishmael—was outside of God’s instructions, the Abrahamic covenant couldn’t be honored/fulfilled via him. However, Ishmael is considered the father of the Arab world.
GOD’S PLAN MOVES FORWARD
Count on it. God’s purposes will be fulfilled—even when we go rogue.
He voiced a promise and a new name into Abram and Sarai that impacted their destiny . . . a move from having “a” mission to having a worldwide calling, per the Talmud.
Ninety-nine-year-old Abram—his name meaning father of a nation—became Avraham, father of many nations.
Eighty-nine-year-old, Sarai—meaning my princess, of a tribe/household—became Sarah, princess of the world, mother of every Jewish convert.
At age 90, counterintuitive to any human logic, Sarah was finally ready in God’s eyes to exhale her soul’s purpose . . . not just the birth of Isaac, but becoming a vessel in God’s hands to birth a nation out of a wilderness womb that would transform the world.
Read all the Soul Remodeling stories:
- Soul Remodeling: Biblical Heroes [Sarah]
- Soul Remodeling: Biblical Heroes [Joseph]
- Soul Remodeling: Biblical Heroes [Moses]
- Soul Remodeling: Biblical Heroes [Jeremiah]
- Soul Remodeling: Biblical Heroes[Saul Paulus]
I’ve had my God- designed wilderness journeys to deconstruct-reconstruct my soul. How about you? These posts can shed some light and encouragement: Soul Remodeling Series: The Wilderness Call, Part 1 andSoul Remodeling Series: The Wilderness Call, Part 2.
 Rabbi Meir Schweiger’s newer podcasts can be found on Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies.
 Genesis 12:1-3, Genesis 13, Genesis 14, Genesis 15:1-6, Genesis 18, Genesis 22:16-18
 The Talmudic concept regarding Avraham and Sarah moving from a particular mission to a universal one is from Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Berachot 13a.
Camels in Israel photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash.com
Woman’s eyes photo by Alexandru Zdrobău on Unsplash.com
Hair-blown woman photo by Engin Akyurt on Unsplash.com