Monday, April 21, 2008

The Shack: What I Learned

I wanted to expand on how impactful The Shack was for me. My pastor's wife (and amazing friend) recommended the book The Shack to me. She told me I needed to read it with an open mind and open heart. When Julie recommends something, I go for it, trusting her completely. I don't think she had a clue how profound it would be for me.

I have been trying to figure out the right words to say in this post. I know I wrote a review earlier, but I feel like I need to expand on it. I want to try and do that, without giving the book away.

The main character, Mack, has lost his faith in God due to his daughter's murder. He has thoughts like "if God really loved Missy, he would have stepped in and saved her". He has no more trust and his faith has been shaken to the core. God (or as he is called in the book, Papa) wants to reconcile the relationship with Mack and so Papa, Jesus & the Holy Spirit meet Mack at "The Shack", the place of his daughters murder, to teach him all about God's love and to try and start Mack back on the road of trusting God.

This entire book is all about God's love for us. In the beginning of the book, Mack describes God as Gandalf, in Lord of the Rings, an old man who comes and goes as he pleases and interferes in our lives when he wants. I was shocked when I read that, because basically, that is how I believe too. I have lost my faith in God. Do I believe that Jesus died on the cross to save me? Yes. Do I believe that God is a God of love? No, not lately. Prior to this book, I looked to God as more the type that would rather knock me down with lightening then come in for an embrace.

I grew up going to a Presbyterian Church and then switched to a Foursquare church when I was around 14. The pastor there was good, but he was the hellfire and brimstone type. He overcame so many heart attacks and every time he did he gave credit to God and said it was because he had so much faith. I came to believe that if I had enough faith that everything I prayed for would happen. I'm going to put in a little disclaimer here, because I liked this pastor, he's a wonderful Christian man, but my interpretation of what he was saying may have been distorted to give me my views.

I can pinpoint the exact moment I lost my faith. 10 1/2 years ago, one of my good friends and I became pregnant at the same time. We were both going to have boys, 3 months apart. Her baby passed away at 1o days old. The 1o days that she was in the hospital with him I did not sleep, but prayed that baby K would live. He did not, and in those moments, my faith was stolen. I thought that since I had faith that God could heal K, and since I stayed up every night praying, he would be healed. I mean, that is what I had been taught right? It was devastating. When he died, my faith died too.

In 2003 my nephew, James, was born with a horrible genetic disorder and we were told he would not live. In the 19 months that we were blessed with him, I never once prayed for his healing. Why? Because I did not think God could, or would, heal James, and I knew that if I prayed for it, and it did not happen that I could not handle another let down by God.

So, what did this book do for me that so many others have failed. For some reason, this book clicked with me at the right time. I totally could relate to every single thought and action that the main character Mack had. This book showed me God's point of view. Yes, this is a novel, it's not true, but it gave me a glimpse of how God may be thinking. He explains why God doesn't always stop the bad things, but if allowed, His grace will ALWAYS work through them.

I have always seen how God worked through James. Even in our families darkest moments, I could see God's hand, but it wasn't enough to open my eyes to His love. Through James' disease God changed a church and our family. There have been many times that I have been angry that James was the sacrifice that was made so that a lot of people could learn how to love at a deeper level. I can now understand that it's not my place to judge why God allowed James to die, and to be born with this horrible disease, but I can see how He worked through it, and I'm done judging why it had to happen.

I've learned through this book that God is ready to walk with me through all the junk that life brings, and bring me safely through it. I think I have a long ways to go on this journey, but I don't feel so alone in it anymore.


1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a very good book. I love it when a book speaks so deeply and personally to you like that.