It’s Not Your Turn, Heather Thompson Day. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2021.
Summary: When everyone seems to be moving ahead while we are standing still, chosen for jobs while we are runners up, the question is how we should live while we wait our turn.
In our success-oriented culture, it can be very hard when it seems our lives are going nowhere while our friends are conquering the world. Heather Thompson Day contends that the turning point in our lives may center around what we do while we wait our turn. We can be jealous of others or sink into depression. Much of this arises from comparing ourselves to social media success stories. Day came to the realization in her own struggles that the issue wasn’t how she rated against others but against the person Jesus was inviting her to be. What she did to live toward him, succeed or not, was worth more than anything.
Day explores the rich life we may pursue as we wait our turn. Actually, the work begins with learning to wait. Day asks us to imagine the benefits that could come of something we really want being delayed. The hardest part is trusting that God will keep his promises. Then we need to reckon with the things we are saying to ourselves and to allow a life saturated in God’s word to reframe them. We need to move beyond what we feel to what we see, and then, like Elisha’s servant, have our eyes opened to seeing where God is at work. Often it means beginning to see the small things, to pursue faithfulness in the ordinariness of life. How we treat the seemingly insignificant–whether tasks or people–will crucially shape us.
The time when it is not our turn is the time to set our goals and devote ourselves to the deliberate practices necessary to reach them. It’s the time to build our network and one practice she commends is the asking of help. At the same time she challenges the social media practices of many of us, trying to build big platforms and tout our work. Instead, are we using it to stay in touch and care for others? Times of waiting can be times where God challenges our selfishness, where God humbles us so we are not a danger to others and our own souls when we are in a position of power. Waiting our turn can take us into dependence on community and challenge us to re-envision God, not as the angry, demanding deity of so many angry, demanding people, but as the loving and forgiving Father.
Finally, Day addresses how we move when we see that it may be our turn. We take risks, moving on maybe, trusting that God is in it with us. Whether it is our turn or not, we can step out in faith and act in integrity, living “our lives with a dignity we could only have given ourselves.”
Day shares her own struggles as a Ph.D struggling to make ends meet, aspiring to success as a communicator and teaching classes at a community college. She describes the risks to move across country to the positions she and her husband took, only to have a pandemic hit. Reading between the lines perhaps, one senses that the struggles have hardly come to an end and that this book is as much a “memo to myself” as it is a story of, “I made it and you can too and here is how.” Instead, what she shares is a tangible expression of what it means to live out in practical terms a life of faith grounded in the word of God. Each chapter ends with a promise from scripture to memorize as well as some searching questions.
The pandemic has been a time when many lives have been put on hold, and even as restrictions are lifted in many places, things are still in recovery. While it may not yet be our turn to move ahead, it may be our turn to lean into the transformative life of waiting on God and trusting and obeying in the little things and the formative practices that shape us for the day when it is our turn. In reading Heather Thompson Day, I feel I’m listening to someone is walking there with me and has figured out what really matters when it is not yet our turn.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.