" The Shack" by Wm Paul Young
I just finished reading "The Shack" last night, and found it to be a very profound book. Normally, I am not into the fad type books, but so many people who I respect had read it, that I thought I would give it a try as well. I have to say that I was deeply moved by the story.
It begins with two tragedies in a man's life, and "the great sadness" that he carries because of it. It becomes an encounter with the living God as he is trying to make sense of this "great sadness." He is lured, invited, to "The Shack", which is one sense is the place where his pain begins, but in this place is where he has his encounter with God, who comes in surprising ways. "Papa" as God refers to her/himself, is an African American Woman. Jesus, is a middle eastern man and a carpenter, and the Holy Spirit, "Saraya" is an Asian woman. Over the many pages, Mack, the main character of the book, learns about himself, about God, and is able to enter into a deep conversation. In that conversation Mack deals with his own independence (sin), judgement, forgiveness, but most of all, learns about the God who loves him just as he is, and doesn't want him to be "religious", but to be in relationship. The enounter leads Mack to confront his own pain, his own questions, and his own mistakes, in such a way as he is transformed in a life changing way.
The wonderful part of the story, at least for me, was I found myself laughing, tearing up, nodding my head in affirmation, saying "WOW! That is so true!" or "Been there done that!" It left me with a very strong desire to re-examine my own spiritual life, my own tendency to live in judgements of my own, apart from God, or in self sufficiency.
It seems that some have had difficulty with seeing the Trinity as anything other than the very traditional Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But in my own experience, when I have been transformed the most, it has been in times when God was revealed to me in surprising and unexpected ways, so I had no problem with the story's way of revealing The Trinity. Besides, which one of us really has the Trinity figured out? Not many.
One of the biggest invitations that The Shack offers refers to how we deal with the painful circumstances in our lives. We all have the choice to either be angry and alienated from God, or to find God in deeper ways, as we go to the place of our pain, and find that God is indeed there. This was the challenge for Mack. It is the challenge for us as well. Mack found that as he went to the Shack, he found God. He found that he was able to enter into a conversation that was very honest, where he could question God, express his anger, and be met with an explanation. Did God remove the pain or change the circumstances of how the pain began? No. But Mack was changed by the relationship he developed with God, and thus the way he looked at his life was transformed. Most of all, he knew that he was never alone, and that the "Great Sadness" was not caused by his sin, but by the fact that we live in a world that wants to be independent of God's love and ways for us to live.
If you haven't read it, I encourage you to do so. It brought me to laughter, tears, saying "WOW" and truly re-examining my own relationship with God, and my own tendencies toward independence of self sufficiency. So I encourage anyone to read it, and see where it takes you.