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Pastors' Wives--Runaway Preacher's Wife

​Confession time: I ran away from home two nights ago.

It was only for five hours. And I just went 6 miles away to my office in town. Both of my daughters, who are just shy of being 13 and 17, would be home alone for the evening, and actually enjoy having the house to themselves at times. Ryan’s evening was already planned away from the house. I even left telling one daughter that I was leaving, but that I had my phone.

So I guess if you get technical about it, this might not be considered really “running away,” but since I didn’t tell anyone where I was going, for a preacher’s wife it might as well be. I just needed to be alone.

Well that’s not exactly true either. I needed to be in the one place where I felt safe and warm and wanted simply for being me. I needed to be in the uninterrupted presence of my Father. You would think that as a pastor’s wife for more than 20 years that this uninterrupted presence would be easy to find. Ha!

You see, I’m a Martha. There’s a part of me that is naturally a Martha, but there is also a part of me that is a Martha because that is what everyone else EXPECTS me to be or NEEDS me to be.

You’re a pastor’s wife, you know the story from Luke 10:38-42. Jesus comes to the town of Bethany to visit Martha and her sister Mary, and we discover Martha running around with sweat pouring down her face, as well as down all the other places we don’t want to mention, red faced and frantically trying to get everything completed that needs to get done. But where is Mary? Well she’s just plopped her little self right down on the floor by Jesus’ feet having her own personal story-time.

You’ve got to hand it to Martha here. The only other person who actually ordered Jesus to do anything was his mother when the wedding feast had run out of wine. And in fact, she did that in a rather indirect way. But not Martha. Oh no. Martha came right up to the pair of them and ordered Jesus, “tell her to give me a hand.” (Luke 10:41 HCSB)

I used to think that Martha was bad and Mary was good back when I was young and first heard this story. And in fact, it’s often even taught this way. But that’s just not true. Did you know that there are only three situations where Scripture states that Jesus loved specific individuals? In the story of the rich young ruler in Mark 10, it says that Jesus looked at the ruler and loved him as He told him to go and sell all of his possessions. That guy walked away dejected and never came back as far as we know.

Then there is the whole “disciple that Jesus loved” found all throughout and only in the book of John, so we can pretty well conclude that John is writing about himself. He’s also a first cousin to Jesus (their mothers were sisters), so they had an additional connection that way.

There is only one more, and it’s not His mother. When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, Scripture says, “now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” (John 11:5 NASB) They spent time together. He went to their home. Jesus even wept at the grave of Lazarus. They were friends! And Martha is the only other recorded person to make the confession of the Messiah. “She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.’” (John 11:27 NASB)

Yes, Martha loved Jesus. But have you ever wondered if Martha got tired of being a Martha? Did her heart yearn to sit at the feet of Jesus too? I think so.

But if Martha decided to stop being Martha, then who was going to be Martha instead? That’s where I find myself. The other day Ryan and I sat down and figured up at the bare minimum how many evenings (we’re talking anything after 6pm and lasting up to 11pm sometimes or even overnight) and weekends that he spends away from home doing ministry.

Can you guess?………..210. Yup, 210 out of 365 just nights and weekends. That is not counting the Monday through Friday daytime hours either. So that means there is a whole lot of Martha-action happening in my life, and it’s happening to a great extent because it’s necessary.

Don’t get me wrong, I sincerely am thankful for all of the people who tell Ryan how great he is and how much they appreciate him (particularly during October Pastor Appreciation Month), but inside I take a deep sigh. Because for all the crazy hours that he is gone, that means I HAVE to be a Martha to survive.

I expected the “wifely” duties when we got married, but in addition to being cook, dishwasher, maid, laundry service, ironer, chauffeur, grocery and supply shopper, I have also found myself being an electrician, carpenter, plumber, fire builder, dog catcher, chicken catcher, cat burier, insect and rodent killer, tire & oil checker, TV and computer repairman, organizer and disciplinarian. One cold winter day I even drove to the junkyard, searched the mass grave of vehicle destruction for a matching car heater, disassembled the heater unit from the junker and, taking my own car’s dash apart, reassembled it into the car before driving home so that I could have heat and a defroster.

I realize that I’m venting a bit, but that’s why this is written to my PW sisters—I know you understand. To be honest, I don’t mind being a Martha. But you get dry and bitter inside when you have to be a Martha ALL of the time.

So that is why I ran away on Wednesday. I just wanted some time to be a Mary. And I knew that I needed more than 30 or 60 minutes. I NEEDED the whole five hours!! It was like balm to my soul. I felt peaceful. I felt loved. I felt His presence. I felt revived.

Of course when I got home, you would have thought that I had shot the family pet. And so it goes. Let’s pray for each other shall we, ladies? Being married to a pastor, we definitely, DEFINITELY live in a Martha-demanded world. Let’s pray that all of us make more time to spend in those quiet Mary moments, and that as our families see the peace that passes understanding fill our souls, they will encourage us in this as well.


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