I shook my head stubbornly and folded my arms across my chest.
“There is no way I’m going to read a book about a little girl being brutally murdered by a psychopath. That’s sick. You know it’ll upset me greatly – I detest things like that. And what’s all this about God being an African American woman living in an old wooden barn? I hate unbiblical biblical fiction! Come on, I can’t even bear to take on the ‘Left Behind Series’, so why would I pick up a novel about violence towards a 6 year old and the dad being comforted by a tubby negro who claims divinity? I’ve heard it’s not even theologically sound and well, so far it’s seems hard to argue with that. No. I’m not even going to read the blurb.”
My husband cringed as I went on and on about the reasons why ‘The Shack’ was not for me. He tried to explain how it was a very good story that opens one up to thinking deeper about our own spiritual walk and about the goodness of God during severe times of heartache. But I couldn’t get my head round the ‘God is an overweight sista’ thing. Each time I spotted the musky, bluey-grey cover lying about the bookshelf, I shuddered at the thought of going anywhere near it.
But four years later, here I am on page 104 of W.M. Young’s most famous tale. A literary masterpiece shrouded under much analysation from people like me who thought it just didn’t sound like a good Christian book.
I realise ‘The Shack’ is having a profound impact on my life.
Now I’m pondering on questions that this blockbuster evokes from deep within:
- What tragedies in my life have I secretly blamed God for?
- Am I harbouring resentment over blessings I feel deprived of?
- What keeps me from trusting him fully?
- Do I draw away when he starts to get too close? Why?
- What has happened in the past that makes me think God doesn’t really love me that much?
- When I have experienced hope deferred or unexpected grief, do I secretly think there are contradictions in the word about protection, justice, healing and my Lord being a very present help in the time of need?
- Am I hopeful of his grace or fearful that he’s planning a big valley trip?
- Despite him sending his precious son to the cross to die for my sins, do I really believe God loves me? Isn’t the cross enough proof or am I searching for something else?
This may also trigger questions in your own mind, but none as profound as when you read the book for yourself.
The Shack was written for the buriers. Those of us who have pushed thoughts so far down that we don’t want to dig them up. We love God and respect him for who he is, so raking through our shocking revelations or discovering the real reason why we can’t get that close to him is too painful to face. But our loving Creator is waiting for our confession. Our admittal that sometimes, compared to others, we don’t always feel that blessed because we’ve been deprived of something others have. We don’t want to rock God’s boat do we? Yet several of the Psalmists did regularly. They admitted that they thought he’d turned his back on them.
What’s going through our minds either consciously or on a deeper level?
**That loved-one still died of Cancer. And they suffered an awful amount of indignity and pain.
**There’s an empty cot in the corner of the room. Do my empty arms mean there are empty bible promises too?
**Your elderly relative was beaten to a pulp for a pocketful of coins. The guilty went free because the jurors couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict.
**The loving husband who stood before God and a church full of friends still ran off with another woman, dragging your heart behind him in the mud.
**The son you always wanted to play football with was born with cerebral palsy and will need feeding and toileting until the day he dies. Endless hours of pills, appointments, therapy, and drool. The lad across the road was conceived out of wedlock but hey, he’s fine and is off to university soon.
We all know the list is endless as we search for fairness, justice and answers…
The enemy of our souls will do anything to make us believe God is a liar, unfair, uncaring and busy doing something else the very hour we are crying out for help. He will whisper in our ears that God is apparently silent. Asleep. He’s occupied too far away to reach us, being busy loving someone else.
But ‘The Shack’ reminds us to STOP IT!
Stop that wrong thinking. Stop the wallowing and resenting and begrudging and pondering. God IS good! And he loves each of us as if we were his only child.
Lord please show us all the areas of our thinking that rocks our faith. Create in us a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us. Set us free by your truth.
Let us prayerfully study his word to discover the real Saviour who has more compassion for us than we will ever be able to describe. The word is our atttack, our defence, our crutch, our confidence, our hope, our plea, our advocate, our support, our peace, our trust our, counsellor, our joy, our freedom from doubt and unbelief. It is our truth and it will set us free from wrong thinking.
I hope we can find the strength to put down all our distractions and get our noses into God’s precious word until we know that we know, that we know, that we know, that we know, that we know, that we know, that we know, he is a great God and we ARE loved!
Oh, and it’s okay to read ‘The Shack’. Forget about the big black mamma thing – you’ll love it.