Waiting. Too often I live in the waiting. Those in-between times. I ignore life before my very eyes in favor of an illusion of what’s to come.
I don’t think I’m alone.
Humans are forever waiting and anticipating something better. Ever since Eve’s tragic sin in the garden of Eden, we have longed for something other than the present.
Waiting and the “in-between” times are a fact of life; so, how can I wait well? And what does it even mean to “wait well”? These questions (and many more that are constantly running through my head) are the reasons that I picked up Marlo Schalesky’s newest book, “Waiting for Wonder.”
In “Waiting for Wonder,” Schalesky delves into the Old Testament and the life of Sarah, wife of Abraham and the mother of many nations, who became an expert on waiting for wonder in her own life. Schalesky seeks to come alongside us on a journey to discover how we can flourish in the midst of waiting, hoping, and praying for the desires of our hearts.
My Story of Waiting
I know from experience that I am not good at waiting. The last five years have been a testament to this unfortunate reality. Like Sarah, my heart ached with longing for a child.
At first, it wasn’t so much an ache as a warm, glowing hope; but, when months turned into years and my arms remained empty, the hope turned bitter and became a painful reminder of my deficiency and my barrenness.
Three years of infertility left me broken, battered, and bruised. I did not flourish in the waiting. I did not respond to the Lord in faith. Instead, I turned from him and withdrew from the one place where I would be able to find true comfort and hope.
Eventually, my heart softened again and I walked a long path of healing. The healing was good and necessary but not easy. And, finally, at the end of 2014, I became a mother. I held my precious baby girl that God brought into my arms through adoption and knew that all that waiting had been worth it, for my daughter. I also realized that there was something to all that painful waiting.
Learning from Sarah the Art of Waiting
I share my story because it gives context to why “Waiting for Wonder” is such a valuable guide to us as we learn to wait. I say “learn” because “waiting well” is a process as Schalesky outlines in the life of Sarah. We don’t start out on a straight path without weaving, winding, and making an about face in the other direction. Waiting is hard and it takes practice, experience, and, yes, wisdom to do it well.
I waited three years for my daughter while Sarah waited decades for the promise of a son to be fulfilled. We can learn a lot from this woman whom God used to bless the entire world.
Each chapter of “Waiting for Wonder” begins with a retelling of a portion of Sarah’s biblical story from her perspective. Normally, I don’t love this tactic, but I found that Schalesky didn’t take too many liberties and only illustrated what Sarah’s thoughts and emotions might have been based on the biblical text and corresponding commentaries.
After hearing from Sarah herself, Schalesky helps us walk through Sarah’s missteps, identifying her idols and the competing desires that kept her from faith in God and his timeline. She says,
Sometimes we must go back in order to go forward. We must face the sin, the lies we live, those in ourselves and in the people closest to us. We cannot receive the fulfillment of promises to bless the world when we are steeped in old fear, old deceptions, old sins. (p. 137)
This was a fantastic reminder to me of the value in waiting. God often uses the journey toward a destination to prepare us for arrival; he is refining us, shaping us, teaching us, and molding us into people of faith for his glory.
The God of Promise
Schalesky finishes each chapter by showing us just who this God of wonder really is. We are pointed toward the truth and the one we can trust. This was my favorite part of each chapter because I was reminded of the true nature of God and his gloriously steadfast love.
One of my favorite quotes from the book is on page 30,
[Sarai] reminds me that the promised land is a poor substitute for the God of promise.
Both Schalesky and Sarah, remind us that the promise, our desires, and the journey are all really about one thing: our relationship with God. Each of these things is meant to point us back to him in faith, trust, and hope above all else.
“Waiting for Wonder” is a great book for learning how to navigate the tough waiting-times of life. I would recommend it for anyone facing difficult circumstances, but also for those that are full of hope and faith as well. This book has helped me to look back in order to look forward in preparation for waiting well for whatever comes next.
I received this book from Abingdon Press in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Learn the true purpose of waiting on God and living on His timeline by entering to win Marlo’s giveaway! The winner will receive two copies of “Waiting for Wonder” (one for you and one for a friend) and a watch set from KEEP Collective. Click on the photo for more information and your chance to win!