I’ve got a lovely friend-from-the-Internet for you, a fellow writer from The Mudroom and She Loves Magazine both. And I’m telling you, she is a keeper. Enter into the story and the words of the lovely Tanya Marlow, and leave a comment at the end to win a copy of her new book, Those Who Wait.
Tell us a bit about yourself, will you? Hi! I’m Tanya Marlow, and I’m British, so you need to read all my words with an Emma Watson-type accent. I was formerly in Christian ministry for ten years, and a lecturer in Biblical Theology – then I got sick.
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) is the ever-so-catchy name for an autoimmune disease that makes you feel as if your body’s batteries are constantly about to run out. I had ME before, but going through labour pushed my body over the edge.
Seven years ago, I woke up with a new baby and a new disability, and I became housebound, in bed 21 hours a day, and a wheelchair user. I’ve been scratching out a theology and ministry online ever since.
My writing explores the spirituality of suffering and hard-won hope. I’ve spent the past seven years asking: what does a relationship with God look like when your hopes have been shattered?
Let’s talk about your book: what, in a nutshell, is your book about anyway? In a word: Waiting. There are lots of Christian books that talk about the value of patience and serenity: this isn’t one of them. Through storytelling and thought-provoking questions, Those Who Wait shows how frustration is not only inevitable in a season of waiting but has spiritual value.
Those Who Wait is a creative exploration of four Bible characters who wrestled with the weight of waiting – and found God there. The four sections are subtitled:
- 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 and Calling
- Mary, mother of Jesus – dealing with Disgrace, waiting for Jesus.
(You’re not meant to have favourites, as an author, but mine is John the Baptist).
You can read it fast, like an engrossing novel. Or you can read it as a devotional – there are 24 short chapters with creative exercises, reflection questions, reading group sessions and even six Bible studies for group or personal devotion. Already, a number of churches are using it as a sermon series and for small group material, and individuals are using it for personal devotion.
Do tell, what was the inspiration behind it? I live with chronic illness, not knowing whether I’ll be one of the lucky few who recover, or one of the 25% who deteriorate further. In some ways, my whole life feels stuck on pause, and it got me thinking abuot what things we all wait for: a place to call home, the feeling of being truly known and loved, for a second chance or to find our calling in life.
It’s the powerless of not knowing the ending of the story that makes a life stuck on pause so exhausting.
For some, we’re just waiting for the pain to end, and that is the hardest kind of waiting. I wanted a book on waiting that did justice to the struggle of waiting, without platitudes or easy answers. The theology comes via the story, through real lives, which is the most powerful way God communicates with us.
How do you hope readers will be changed by your words? It’s been out for just over a month, and already has over 60 reviews on Amazon.co.uk (4.9*), so it’s amazing to see how positively readers are responding. Most are saying that it reignited a passion for the Bible, even for those who’d been previously jaded by or wary of the Bible, because they’re able to see the Bible characters as human, not fictional saints. In the stories of others, they find themselves.
Those Who Wait doesn’t avoid or dismiss the hard questions, and has thorough theological notes for those who like to explore my narrative choices intellectually. For most, it has been a cathartic and even transformative experience – they’re able to deal with wounds they’d left festering for years.
I’d love to see whole churches impacted by this, as well as individuals, because to wait is the Christian experience. Too often we say, ‘be patient, trust God’ in a period of waiting, (which can sound like a Christian version of, ‘stop moaning!’) without looking at how God can meet us there. In fact, I go further by saying that the frustration itself has spiritual value and points us towards theological truths and a greater perspective.
Lest we forget to ask, how have YOU been changed by writing the book? I wanted to write a true book about the cost of waiting, and the disappointment, doubt and delay that comes with it. But what surprised me as I delved into the Bible figures was the sheer kindness of God. When we overlook familiar stories, we miss hidden messages of God’s love. The waiting is still hard, but my perspective had completely changed by the end, and this is my hope for others.
How and where can we find you on the internet? I blog regularly at http://tanyamarlow.com and you can buy Those Who Wait: Finding God in disappointment, doubt and delay from CLC.com, Amazon.com and all good Christian bookshops. I also write for Off the Page, She Loves Magazine and The Mudroom. When you sign up for my occasional newsletter, you get your copy of my first book, Coming Back to God When You Feel Empty, FREE. Sign up here to subscribe – I’d love to keep in touch!
So, does this sound like your kind of book? Head over to your favorite online bookshop to purchase a copy, or leave a comment below for a chance to win. Contest ends Friday, December 15th – good luck!
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