Today is the launch of Tanya Marlow’s new book “Those Who Wait”. I was grateful to Tanya for offering an early release copy to read in advance of the book being published today. And so I thought I’d blog about the book and let you know why you might want to read it too.
Tanya’s story is one of challenge and waiting. Having waited ten years to have her ill health diagnosed as ME, she has spent the subsequent years waiting to get better. For seven years she has been housebound. Within a Christian culture which often assumes suffering is something to be prayed away and delivered from, it can be extremely hard to cope with the ongoing reality of ill physical health, mental ill health or other difficulties which make life difficult.
As I write this I am dealing with having had a plethora of viruses which have reduced my capacity immensely over the last month, I am currently in therapy seeking to deal with the challenging parts of my history, whilst in my wider family there is stuff going on that is both upsetting and frustrating, we have one child with behavioural issues, an angsty teenager and are involved in a family court case regarding our third child. Alongside this, the ongoing coverage of powerful men who have sexually abused women and girls has left me feeling rather despondent. Their courage and the subsequent opportunity it has provided for other women to share their stories should be celebrated. But to be honest, I just feel so despairing, knowing that nothing is going to structurally change, and as we’ve already seen, the women will be blamed, the men will be justified and the colluders will put out shiny PR statements to reframe their collusion as ignorance. Given this context, the advance copy of “Those Who Wait” was a real gift, in this time of challenge.
Although Tanya’s story is one of waiting, “Those Who Wait” is not a personal memoir, but rather a Biblical study on the lives of four characters from the Bible; Sarah, Isaiah, John the Baptist and Mary (Jesus’ mother). Approaching the text with an evangelical theological perspective, Tanya has reimagined the stories of each character, from a first-person perspective. Sarah as the woman who waited on God’s promise, Isaiah the prophet who waited, John the prophet whose prophecy was fulfilled but not in the ways he wanted, and Mary who waited for the birth of the Messiah.
Each character’s story is split into four “scenes” with questions for reflection included. The book has been designed to function for either an individual, or within a small group context. Tanya suggests that given the season of Advent is one of waiting, it could be used over Advent with a church, small group or with a Christian book group. She has included various prayers and other materials for reflecting on the stories.
Within the Biblical narrative, it is easy to forget that the stories that take up a few verses may have happened over decades. The matter-of-factness of the text can prevent us recognising the human characters within it. Yet Tanya’s retelling of the stories prompted me to see the Biblical characters in a new way. Particularly with John the Baptist’s narrative, various things within the Biblical text clicked into place and made sense, whilst Isaiah’s narrative was hugely encouraging to me, as someone called to have a prophetic voice.
Overall, the book gave me a fresh experience of Biblical stories that are very familiar to me. And even though it is not a book filled with answers for those who are waiting, the Biblical characters seem to become those who sit with us in our waiting, sharing their stories and encouraging us that we are not alone. When life is hard (as it is for me at the minute), those who provide instructions on how to cope, or offer me well-meaning solutions are often less helpful than those who tell me their stories and show me that they made it through.
Tanya’s book offers a fresh perspective on the Biblical narratives of Sarah, Isaiah, John and Mary and provides opportunities to see God at work as we wait and when we face challenges in life. I’m thankful to Tanya for writing this book and am hopeful it will help many of those who are waiting.
You can buy it here:
*The RRP is £9.99. BUT until Oct 26th, it’s available from Amazon for £6.99 as a special introductory offer, with the ebook reduced to £3.99.