By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector
SEVIERVILLE — The about 170 ministers’ wives who attended “The Good Cup” learned from four dramatic presentations, discussions around their tables with peers, and worshiped during Summit: The Gathering of Tennessee Baptists held Nov. 13-17 at the Sevierville Convention Center.
Carol Anderson Shores of Acts of Renewal Ministry based in Kentucky portrayed four characters during the event and then taught using the characters and their experiences.
She portrayed Martha who hosted Jesus for a meal along with her sister Mary recorded in Luke 10:38-42. Shores says at one point as she orders servants in their tasks to prepare the meal, “If this meal ever comes together, it will be a miracle. Benhop, get away from the door. We work here for the teacher. Yes, I’m sure what He has to say is fascinating, but let’s get back to what’s important.”
As food burns or is left unprepared, Martha realizes that Mary is not doing her assigned tasks and instead is with Jesus. She asks Mary to come into the kitchen but Mary ignores her.
Then Martha hears the response of Jesus and describes it to a kitchen worker — “He (Jesus) said only a fews things are necessary, really only one, and Mary has chosen the good path. So, what, I have chosen the other path? Oh, if I wasn’t in here fixing the dinner, then where would we be?”
Yet Martha relents, serving what food is prepared so she can try to find “the good path.”
After the drama, Shores noted that all of those present could relate to the fact that “when you’re in ministry … there are so many things to do.”
Martha may get “a bad rap,” she added. She did invite Jesus to her home. She added that Mary’s actions are avant garde for that time. Martha did want to be with Jesus but she was pulled away by responsibilities.
As Martha “is more and more frustrated, she loses sight of who Jesus is because she comes in and tells Him basically “if Martha was God how she would run this. … And Jesus, because He is all about relationship, … He doesn’t really care what type of role she is supposed to be playing, He cares about her. …
“Jesus says, ‘I have food that you know not of,’ and Mary has chosen that kind of food. …
“I don’t know that I could ever be truly … like Mary, but I could be a balanced Martha and that takes me choosing to push it all aside, sit down for my heart to heart with Jesus, who sees me, approves of me in that place just as I am, His beloved child.”
Next, Shores portrayed Sarah, wife of Abraham, after they were told by God she would have a child though she was far beyond child-bearing age.
With humor, Sarah says to Abraham, “No, I am not doubting what the Lord God said to you. … He said this was to come from your body; He did not say it was to come from mine,” as the crowd laughed.
Sarah also talked about the 10 years they have waited for her to become pregnant. “I am done with the thinking and the trying and the waiting and being disappointed month after month after month.”
After Abraham agrees to Sarah’s solution for her handmaiden to bear the child, she says, “It’s simple. What can possibly go wrong?”
Shores said this story should help the ministers’ wives consider giving advice to their husbands. They should find ways to nurture their marriages so they minister out of good stuff rather than fumes from exhaustion, she noted.
She also portrayed the leader of a ladies fellowship at a church who revealed that she was struggling with a wayward husband.
Women in the church search for people they can “trust to be able to tell what is really going on in our families for fear it will go wild, be exaggerated, be twisted. … How do we find places as ministry wives to be able to be real, to be honest about the struggles?” She encouraged them to consider some of their fellow strugglers in the room.
She suggested that many ministers’ wives despair that some standard for a minister’s wife cannot be reached. Instead every minister’s wife is “just figuring it out, and our kids are a mess and life is messy and sometimes we’re mad at our husbands.”
Matthew 17:25 tells about the Pharisees asking how they will know when the kingdom of God has come and “Jesus says if the kingdom of God is here, it is within you.” His presence is “so life-giving and the reason that we can have the heart and the energy to go back to serving in our church and in our family.
Finally, Shores portrayed Corrie ten Boom, survivor of the Holocaust and author. Ten Boom told how years later while speaking in Germany a former guard at a concentration camp where her sister died asked her for forgiveness.
Ten Boom struggled to forgive the man though she is considered by many a hero of our faith, pointed out Shores.