God: The Team Worker {Book Club}

Today we finish Those Who Wait: Finding God in Disappointment, Doubt and Delay by Tanya Marlow with Mary.

Mary was “dealing with disgrace and waiting for Jesus.” Even if you are not, at the moment, dealing with disgrace, this section still has much to offer us.

Last week I said, “While Protestants don’t have patron saints, we do have people from the Bible (and history) that we relate to on a personal level.” Historically, Catholics have had a corner, not only on saints, but on Mary.

It seems that many Protestants reacted so strongly to the veneration of Mary, that instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water, we have thrown his mother out. For the fourth week in a row I say, this section helped me to picture Mary in a way I haven’t before.

In Day One, Mary wonders, “Why is God such a team-worker? I am sure the Lord could have found a way to bring the Messiah without involving me. But God invited people to help change the world since the beginning of time, even though we usually do a pretty poor job of it.”

Two thoughts. First, related to writing, look how Mary sounds like a teenage girl. I didn’t notice until this section, when it struck me how much it sounded like Mary compared to John and how “John” the previous section sounded. Now that I think about it, Sarah sounded like Sarah, and Isaiah like Isaiah.

My second thought related to the quote and God being a team-worker is that as we start a fresh year, it’s common to look back. To many on the field, the “progress” of the last year may look inconsequential. You may wonder what you have accomplished.

While it is good to reflect and evaluate, I can see how very much my thinking can be results oriented and more NOW. Holding the long view that team work requires, does not always come quickly to me.

On Day Two, when Mary was visiting Elizabeth, I loved when she said, “Sometimes we need to see it in someone else before we can believe it for ourselves.” This is the upside of team work; where we help each other to carry and implement the faith. And later in that section:

“Do not be afraid. You have found favour with God. And after three months of friendship, I am starting to believe it.” Again the power of healthy community.

Day Three helped me see Mary’s Mom and Dad afresh. I hadn’t thought before how they might have worried, but of course they did! They too wondered what might happen to their daughter . . . and the relief they must have felt when Joseph wanted not only to marry their daughter, but move up the wedding date.

On Day Four, as Mary went into labour and prepared to give birth so far from her family, I thought of many of you who have delivered far from familiar community—be that your home or host culture. If you have needed to travel to give birth, we’d love to hear a bit about it!

I loved on Day Five, having given birth, her first words to her newborn were, “Hello Jesus, it’s good to see you.”

Every section has had a benediction and I thought I would share the one from this section:

For all who think no one notices them,
For all who feel forgotten by friends and God;
May you know the fiery love
Of the God who overturns tables in the temple, Who disturbs the comfortable and defends the helpless.

May the Holy Spirit come upon you
With tears, joy and a blanket of peace;
So you may know once again in your heart
The weighty comfort of God’s presence with you.

May you who live out your life
In unseen, unremarkable faithfulness
Know the remarkable favor of the Lord upon you.
May you glimpse how dearly beloved you are
Among the saints of God.

For all who dread the next days’ dreariness,
May we lift our eyes up once again;
May we fix our eyes on the Author and Perfector of our faith,
With fresh wonder.
Amen.

 

Have you thought much about Mary? How has the reverence for Mary in Catholicsm both informed your understanding (if it has) or helped keep Mary at an arm’s distance?

On my blog I shared the 17 best books I read in 2017 (Several were book club reads!). Next week we start Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech. It’s been a while since we did a Newberry Award winner. We will discuss chapters 1-15.

See you in the comments!

Amy

P.S. Next week, chapters 1-15, the following week chapters 16-29, and the final week of January chapters 29-44.

3 Comments

  1. Kristi January 2, 2018

    I loved this section on Mary! I agree–perhaps as Protestants we don’t look enough at Mary. I loved the description of the angel coming to Mary, and the idea that the angel waited for a response from Mary. The Biblical account does not give us exact times of when the events happened, but it made sense to me that Joseph and Mary’s family did not find out about her pregnancy until after Mary returned from her visit to Elizabeth and she was no longer able to hide it. I also appreciated the idea that Mary may have had doubts – even though an Angel appeared and she was miraculously pregnant, doubts, worries, and fears are bound to appear. I appreciate that God connected Mary and Elizabeth for those few months, allowing Elizabeth to encourage and mentor Mary. Sometimes at points in life that are difficult or needing a decision, having someone around who can give advice, share experience, or help me to have faith makes a world of difference.

    And as you said, I often do not think about Mary’s parents or their life as a family. Imagining that makes it even more poignant that Mary is taken away from them for the birth of her first child. She has to endure a difficult journey while very pregnant, and deliver alone with Joseph. It was moving to consider all the emotions that she must have experienced in the process…certainly cause to wonder if this is really how God wanted His Messiah to be born.

  2. Shelly January 3, 2018

    I haven’t been reading the current book, but have enjoyed the posts. I may need to get this one later.

    I am, however, wondering how far we should read in the next book. I found an audio version via a digital library app, and have already started it. Enjoyable! Since I don’t have any chapter markings in the audio book, maybe you could identify where they are in the journey for the reading demarcations???

    1. Amy Young January 4, 2018

      Shelly!! I meant to go back and add the reading plan and then remembered about two hours AFTER the post went live :). We will discuss chapters 1-15 🙂 (about 1/3 of the book). Lovely to have you join!!

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