They came from as far away as the west coast and as near as the other side of town. Long accustomed to travel, the trip to Nashville was easy. For years, most have packed clothes, music products and babies, then hit the road with a family or singing group. These women were not nervous or anxious. They were not apprehensive or intimidated. This was not a new thing. These ladies had just slipped into old, well-worn shoes.
When the cameras began rolling and the video was in full swing, they had fun. This was a respite, a brief vacation, a day spent with girlfriends. There was catching up and opening up between these peers and allies. The room was electric, warm and vibrant.
Their treks here varied. Some plowed through small churches all over the Bible Belt, tenaciously presenting their message to whomever would listen. As their platforms grew, so did their experience. Their talents stretched and flexed well beyond what they ever envisioned. God was with them; He blessed their work and multiplied their results. The call from Mr. Gaither to be a part of this event was a validation of their history of good results.
Others arrived in this music genre by following the footsteps of their parents. They rode a wave induced by someone else, and their lessons began earlier than most. They were cast and coached by industry pioneers. They shared their parents and their childhoods with strangers in music venues. They brought to the taping, that Tuesday, rich music histories and polished skills.
The ages of the women in the room varied greatly, as did their respective careers. Some were young, others older, and some were grandmothers — a moniker which they bore proudly. Some were at the height of their careers, some beginning their ascent and others slowing. No one seemed to differentiate between those stages.
Sitting contentedly on the front row was the woman whose life has inspired and mentored us all. Throughout the taping, she issued wordless encouragement and affirmation. That is her style: unobtrusive yet powerful. That is her gift: words that do not demand, yet do not allow to be ignored. That is her legacy: the ultimate representation of grace, discernment and empathy. The women in that room call Gloria a hero, an icon, a friend.
Perhaps one of the most important relationships in Jesus’ earthly life was His friendship with siblings Lazarus, Mary and Martha. When Lazarus became ill, the sisters summoned Jesus. Four days following his death, Jesus journeyed to a safe place outside Bethany. When Martha heard that He had come, she went to meet Him. “Lord, if You had been here,” she gently chided, “my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give You whatever You ask.” (John 11:17–21 NIV) Jesus made her a quiet promise that her brother would live again. Martha rushed to the home where Mary was and whispered to her that Jesus had come. When Mary ran out to meet Him, she fell at His feet and repeated Martha’s disappointment, “...if You had been here...” Matthew Henry notes that Mary did not verbalize hope of a resurrection, as did Martha. “But it appears,” he writes, “by what follows, that what [Mary] fell short in words she made up in tears; she said less than Martha but wept more.”
On Tuesday, in Nashville, the room was filled with sisters. These women have crisscrossed their lives with each other as surely and intricately as would a family. They have grappled with situations that made them say, “Lord, if You had been here...” They have run to a realtime Mary and whispered that Jesus has arrived in the middle of their circumstances. They have aligned their faith with Martha’s stubborn resolution, “But I know that, even now, God is with You.”
The women who fell short in words, on Tuesday, made up in tears and genuine love. They shared a grownup tea party. They exchanged notes and news from home. They savored the spontaneous refreshing.
After all, that’s what sisters do.