Coming Back to God When You Feel Empty: Whispers of Restoration From the Book of Ruth Paperback – 2 Feb 2015
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About the Author
Tanya Marlow was formerly a lecturer in Biblical Theology, and in Christian ministry for a decade. Now housebound with severe ME, she maintains a writing ministry from her bed. Defying the usual stereotype of a vicar's wife (she is terrible at flower-arranging and quiche-baking), she lives in a vicarage in South-West England with her husband, son, and a collection of dying pot plants, and can be found at http://tanyamarlow.com.
Top Customer Reviews
When we look at this biblical account, usually we focus on Ruth - the young widow who commits to her mother-in-law, making her home in a foreign land, such the depth of her love. We skip over the bitter old woman, Naomi, who is reeling from loss and is definitely disappointed with God. But Tanya explores - gently - how we mirror Naomi, and yet how God showers us with his love. (And she doesn't miss out on gleaning encouragements from Ruth's story either.)
Coming Back to God When You Feel Empty is a short but satisfying read. Read it for the poetic language; read it for the insights this story from old can shine into our lives today; read it for the emphasis on prayer and a God who loves us.
As other reviewers have said this would be an easy book to give to others who are feeling burned out, desperate or disappointed because it's not just theory for Tanya and she offers us the practical tools not make her insights real in our lives too.
On a side note I was chuffed Naomi's experience was given a more positive emphasis, although I love the meaning of my name, I was always a little ambiguous about her example, until now :)
What makes this piece particularly touching is how Marlow intertwines anecdotes from her own life to illustrate the thoughts. Dealing with issues like bitterness or anger in the face of loss, she is never judgemental or condemning. Instead she gently shows how she herself faces these issues, and yet God's patience and provision have enabled her to grow - just like Naomi and Ruth. It's not that she's providing "answers" - for topics like this any answers would be somewhat trite. No; Marlow has clearly faced a lot of hard times, and has just the right tone for people who need understanding as they work through finding God in a dark place.
Each chapter finishes with a set of thought-provoking questions (which make it perfect for a small group discussion) and some creative exercises which put the themes into practice. Interwoven as it is with personal stories and practical applications, it's the kind of Bible study which is accessible for those without an academic mindset.
I love the way Tanya explores the character of Naomi in more depth. In the past, studies on Ruth I have read have tended to concentrate on Ruth, and forget a little about Naomi and the situation she was in - one of bitterness and despair. She's in a position of weakness and powerlessness, and Tanya weaves that in with her own situation of being weak and powerless in her disease. We are able to look at Naomi's actions and emotions in a new way and I found her story striking and powerful. From abandoned bitterness to someone cloaked in kindness and generosity. 'Naomi is the secret heroine,' writes Tanya.
The book is structured helpfully with questions at the close of each section; it could be used as a group resource as well as for personal reading. I, as someone also severely restricted by health difficulties, found it a restorative and challenging piece of writing and heartily recommend it to anyone, and am looking forward to Tanya's next book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book - using as part of our series on Ruth next month.Published 2 months ago by Linda Lee
A wonderful book that looks at the book of Ruth from an entirely different perspective.
Anyone who is going through the wringer and who maybe questioning where God is should... Read more
I read this in January and I needed it. Clearly written and helpful for those times when you feel discouraged, much like the book of Ruth which it explores. Read morePublished 5 months ago by L Robinson
A short but very well thought through little book from someone who us living through pain and coming to terms with it. Read morePublished 7 months ago by tallandrew
With great creativity the author weaves the biblical story of Ruth into a gentle but profound reflection on the impact of struggle and suffering on our relationship with God. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Betsy Blatchley
This was a quick read that was a fresh insight into the book of Ruth. Growing up in the church I did plenty of studies talking how much I should be like Ruth, but this is the first... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Janice D
Tanya Marlow's book is delightfully bitesized, yet will provide nourishment for those who are tired and hungry in their Christian faith. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Debbie H
A little gem of a book. It’s a fresh, poignant exploration of the book of Ruth, as the author uses her own painful experiences of illness and disability to work through issues of... Read morePublished 11 months ago by P. Linton