Those Who Wait: Finding God in Disappointment, Doubt and Delay Paperback – October 15, 2017
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About the Author
- Publisher : Malcolm Down Publishing (October 15, 2017)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 224 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1910786861
- ISBN-13 : 978-1910786864
- Reading age : Baby and up
- Item Weight : 12 ounces
- Dimensions : 6.14 x 0.51 x 9.21 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #426,366 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Those Who Wait portrays the stories of four familiar Bible characters who are asked by God to wait for Him in various ways: Sarah, Isaiah, John the Baptist and Mary the mother of Jesus—and through their eyes, it explores the questions they ask of themselves and of God. It makes these characters, along with their settings, far more three-dimensional than we usually envision. As someone who has also waited on God for an extended period of time, I recognized myself in them as well as the voice of God upon Whom I—and we all—wait.
I believe the Christian church, certainly in the US, needs more works like this. God often speaks through stories, through imagery, through people rather than lists of things we should do. (And isn’t that the mind-boggling purpose and privilege of our faith? A relationship with the Creator of the universe, who came to be with us?) Refreshingly real (as always), Tanya brought me to tears more than once. Perfect for personal or group study, I am looking forward to reading it again for my own Advent journey. Check out the Table of Contents (pp. 6-8), which gives a birds’-eye-view into format, including notes and Bible studies.
After reading this book I contacted my small group and a church I attend and told them, "You must use this book and I am willing to lead a study." That is how strongly I believe that this book will be of value. When I shared in my small group in our next meeting the four primary studies and the questions they ask, people audibly responded to the topics:
*Sarah—dealing with disappointment, waiting for joy
*Isaiah—dealing with delay, waiting for justice and peace
*John the Baptist—Dealing with doubt, waiting for your life's purpose
Mary—dealing with disgrace, waiting for Jesus
I bet one of these speaks to you right where you are today in your life. Buy the book, thank God for Tanya writing it later.
"Those Who Wait" is not about our everyday waiting. Tanya Marlow writes about an even greater wait, a season of waiting, a lifetime of waiting. As a teenager, she had mononucleosis which progressed “into a neurological illness: myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).” (page 13). There is only a slight chance she will recover. Yet she hopes.
Tanya married, went to seminary, taught at the graduate level, had a baby and has not been out of bed more than an hour a day since. That was 7 years ago. Yet she hopes.
“To wait means you are constantly straddling two realities-the hoped-for either happening or not. Yes, or no. Yes, or no. You feel the pull of both possibilities as you wait.” (page 16). Yet she hopes.
Those Who Wait is a narrative. We will read the stories of four people from the Bible who had to wait: Sarah, Isaiah, John the Baptist and Mary, the mother of Jesus. Each story is about an “ordinary hero who wrestles with waiting but found God there. It has a twin focus: waiting for God’s specific promise but also ultimately awaiting Christ’s coming (for them), and Christ’s return (for us).” (page 17)
Tanya tells stories that are familiar to us but she allows us to see them from an up-close and personal perspective. Of course, the actual conversations are fictional but the events are true. As you read, you will feel as if you are actually in the story, somewhere in Palestine centuries ago. Allow yourself to imagine being told by your husband, you and your entire household were moving “to the land I (God) will show you.” Genesis 12:1 Or imagine yourself in Pharaoh’s harem because your husband lied to save his life. Where is God? Why is He silent? Have I been abandoned?
Those Who Wait “does not offer straightforward solutions to the struggles of waiting. Nor is there a list of action points so it feels less like waiting and more like doing. I don’t offer these, because I don’t see them in the Bible stories. The Bible does not disguise the discomfort of waiting. Instead, I see people who battled through difficult times and prevailed. I see people who trusted, doubted and despaired-and trusted again.” (page 148)
Top reviews from other countries
And as a minister, this book is also going in my 'pastoral first aid kit' - a collection of titles I lend out to people facing difficulties of their own.
But whether you are facing troubles or are simply after a worthwhile devotional read, buy this book. It is especially suitable for Advent study, but could be read at any time of year.
I began with a lyric from Tom Petty, and I end with one from Leslie (later Sam) Phillips: 'When answers don't come easy, I can wait.'
Each section focuses on a different person from the Bible who experienced waiting on God in difficult situations. These are each quite different which allows many different readers to find someone who they can relate to, or a situation they are familiar with. Marlow lists a few themes at the start of each section so you can identify them at a glance. On reading there's clearly more than the few listed so don't be put off if there isn't one clearly matching from the subtitles.
The sections are split into small manageable chapters each of which reimagines part of the experience of the person. This is told in a very compelling manner and allows you to really relate to these people and their experiences. It certainly helped me grasp more that these are not stories of people merrily skipping their way through the calamities of life as a Good Saint Should, but rather of people wrestling and fighting through incredibly dark seasons in the way all of us do. If you find yourself relating to stories and (auto)biographies this is a style which will probably appeal to you. I found her style insightful in a manner which allowed me to find insight myself.
I'm often put off by the idea of storytelling from the Bible, I suppose from a fear of missing or miss-telling what's really there. I didn't find myself put off by this though. Marlow is a trained theologian (I believe she used to lecture in theology) and has included at the back some brief notes and discussions on things such as where there is uncertainty in translation or understanding and why she's chosen the meaning she's chosen. I also never got the impression that she was saying "this happened exactly like this!", but rather that she was using her retelling to highlight certain aspects of the passages in a way analogous to how sermons often expand upon and highlight aspects of a passage.
It has a wide range of various discussion and activity prompts suitable for individuals and groups to work through, to explore the ideas in more depth, usually relating them to your own life and experience rather than anything theoretical. This includes things like music and creative activities as well as your standard questions. I think that's a great choice as traditional Q&A book clubs are not for everyone! The group-focused ones are at the back so not a distraction if you're reading through on your own. As with Marlow's other book I think that this book is ideal for a group discussion format, with short and accessible enough sections and activities to appeal to a broad range of readers. I believe that it's designed to be readable during advent, with each overall section matching the traditional advent Sunday themes, but that's by no means a necessity and it isn't "Christmassy" beyond the expected focus of Jesus - basically, I wouldn't have noticed it could be used as an advent reader if it hadn't been pointed out to me, but once it was it made perfect sense to be used as such.
The book is well suited to reading on your own at any point so don't let all that clever design put you off if you just want to sit down and have a good read!
Lastly if you're unsure about risking this because you've been burned before on this topic, I'd give Marlow a quick search and read some of her articles. She has a particularly nasty neurological disease (ME) so writes from the point of view of someone who is going through incredibly difficult times and has much experience waiting. She does not write fluffy-happy platitudes, tell you it's your fault, insist things would be better if you just did x, or claim that everything is great and fine despite all evidence to the contrary. Somehow she talks about hardship as it is, and yet in a way which inspires hope even when "as it is" may never change.
The questions and prayers at the end of each chapter gave real food for thought, and I'll be using this book again during Advent to focus properly on those and do some journalling. Altogether recommended, a super book from a great writer.