Friday, October 3, 2008

The Shack

I have now read The Shack. I usually buy these best-sellers immediately but had to wait this time. Someone bought me a copy and I was so excited to read it. All I had heard were positive remarks and many people saying, "It's a must read."

The endorsements were even said it was the Pilgrim's Progress for a new generation. People were saying it changed their walk, their perceived thoughts of God Himself and even that it brought them a peace after the tragedy of losing a child. These remarks really work up a desire to see and experience God in a new way. I had read nothing negative about the book before I picked it up and put it down.

If you have not read the book, and plan on doing so, you may want to stop reading the blog now. This could be considered a 'spoiler.'

I had not heard about the author, William P. Young, or his experiences in life before I read the book. I learned most of what I now know through the forward which was written by his long-time friend. I was brought in emotionally early on as I read of the pain and suffering the author had to endure from his alcoholic preacher father to the devastating kidnapping and murder of his dear daughter.

While I had the best dad ever, I never called him "Papa" and "Daddy" was something left behind as a term of endearment before I was 12. When taught that Abba means Daddy, I could not address God as Daddy. It just isn't 'me.' God as Poppa hit me the same way. That aside, I was anxious to see what awaited for Mack at The Shack!

Nothing could have prepared me, I do admit. Our all-powerful, all-knowing, I AM that I AM showing up to sit and chat in bodily form over coffee and bisquits threw me a curve and it would have even if not as a big black woman. Appearing in any human form would have resulted in me having a hard time imagining God who is Spirit arriving as anyone else. (Yes, I know God has revealed himself in a burning bush and I don't limit Him in anyway; but this just surprised me.) Then in pops Jesus as the Asian part-two of the trinity and by the time Tinkerbell as the Holy Spirit breezed by (truly, that's where my mind went--Tinkerbell) ... well, I really have no words for how I felt about what I was reading. It was all too chummy for me. Jesus kissing God on the lips--not a visual I took in well either.

It was all too contrived, representing the Trinity in 'living color", representing minitorities & Disneyish for the Holy Spirit. Those who know me well know I have no prejudice re color, women, cartoons, (well I prefer the newspaper funnies to animated children's movies, but you get my point. I don't want to be misunderstood so I felt that needed to be put forth in case someone reads this blog who does not know me well.) I just could not wrap my head around the visuals for the Trinity and becoming very discouraged, I almost put it aside. Jesus later appears as a clone of my brother Buzz in the late 60s with long hair in a braid and hiking boots. At any rate, I forged ahead wondering why people liked this book so much.

Let me say that I feel I understand the author's reasons for presenting The Trinity in such form. Moving past preset conditioning about God, His Son and the Holy Spirit, he probably helped a lot of people see each in a new light. For most of my life I was conditioned to think of God as one who watched my every move and one who was punishing me for some sin if I stubbed my toe (that's what my mother told me anyway). To this day I swear to you that whenever I do stub my toe I think, 'Yikes, what did I do now?"

When God was presented to me in my early 30's as a Loving Father who was in fact FOR me and not AGAINST me, that TRUTH worked my spirit to become more responsive to His call on my life. Receiving GRACE because of the sacrifice of His Son poured holy white pureness into me. At that point I knew there was NOTHING I could do to make God love me more and NOTHING I could do to make Him love me less. That's not cheap grace I am talking about's PURE grace and I was set free to live as Beloved of God.

Someone on line in a chat room was sharing about this book with another and said, "Please read past page 120." So forging ahead I continued. Nothing changed as far as I how had felt about the interaction between The Trinity with one another and with Mack -- it just hit me as so odd. Since I have known and interacted with the Lord for over 44 years now, I would just say it certainly matched nothing I have experienced. Too much chumminess for a Holy and Almighty God who I know loves me and yet who is God...Awesome God. Yes, I know it is a novel and I know my imagination is lacking, but it just didn't work for me.

What did speak to my spirit is one of the more central messages - the one of love and forgiveness. When Christ teaches us to Love One Another it is by the Holy Spirit that we can even want to do so. When Christ teaches us to forgive, it is by the Holy Spirit working in us to enable us to do so. When the Word of God takes hold in our spirit, it is by the Holy Spirit within us.

Some of the examples of how Mack was called to love and forgive hit my heart at a level that made me cry...that made me want to become more like Jesus in sacrificial giving of myself - putting others ahead of my own selfish self. I've had opportunity to do so many times since then. I think that while Mack had significant and deep issues that most of us have never faced or will ever have to face, we still have opportunities every single day to forgive and love in ways that the Holy Spirit moves us. Let us have the wisdom and the softened, vulnerable heart to follow God in order that people see Christ in us and in order to live in true freedom.


John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another;
as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Matthew 18:21 & 22
21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive
my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"
22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

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