This past weekend Jim referred to “the Shack”. I read the shack this summer as well and enjoyed it very much. I’ve been a little perplexed recently by the reaction of some to this book. While it’s been wildly popular it’s also drawn a lot of criticism from some teachers, preachers and theologians. The criticism is mostly based on perceived theological errors even “heresies” in regards to the description of the trinity. I want to yell back, loudly at people “its fiction folks, chill out!” People have criticized C.S. Lewis and Tolkien for not having perfect metaphors in their fiction as well. I personally don’t believe the author’s main intent was to present an airtight, theologically sound description of the trinity. I think the author’s intent was to talk about how God interacts with us in the midst of our deepest pain. I think this was a brave attempt by one author to paw and scratch at an unfathomable mystery. As I read this book I couldn’t help but think about my friend Nancy who lost her son, Zach in a swimming pool accident years ago. Honestly I was afraid to recommend the book to her because I knew it would be painful. Recently in a staff meeting Nan revealed that she had read the book and she talked about how it impacted her. I asked her to write up what she said so I could share it with everyone via this blog….here are her reflections.
Recently the largest ‚Äújump‚Äù in my faith came as I was reading the book ‚ÄúThe Shack‚Äù‚Ä¶knowing it was fictional, but still embracing the concept of relationships that were portrayed between, Papa, Jesus, Sarayu‚Ä¶and Mac. You see, this ‚Äúrelationship‚Äù with Papa and Jesus is very real to me‚Ä¶I struggle with the Holy Spirit just because I don‚Äôt have a name or concept that I can call Him/Her, my term of endearment for God is Papa, long before I read this book, although I must admit I‚Äôve never thought of Papa as an African American Woman (I wonder why??)!! Anyway, of course Mac‚Äôs struggle in this book hit home with me‚Ä¶I spent years following the death of my son angry at God and carrying the guilt of Zach‚Äôs death around my neck, keeping my head buried in the depth of grief and pain‚Ä¶he was in my care‚Ä¶and I couldn‚Äôt save him because I wasn‚Äôt even aware that he was in danger‚Ä¶much like Mac.
The part in the book that God finally used in real and tangible ways, yet touching painful and joyful emotions both, occurred when in the chapter ‚ÄúHere Come Da Judge‚Äù Mac saw Missy through the waterfall. He saw her happily playing, laughing‚Ä¶without pain, without the scars of her death. As she sensed that Mac was near she ran to the waterfall knowing that her daddy was on the other side‚Ä¶mouthing and signing ‚Äúit’s okay, I love you‚Äù and Mac‚Äôs reaction is ‚Äúshe really IS okay‚Äù! At this time you might be able to imagine how this made me feel‚Ä¶how I embraced this moment with my son Zach‚Ä¶as God let me know once again that ‚Äúhe really IS okay‚Äù.
The most impact (or smack upside the head) for me came when Mac asked ‚ÄúHas she forgiven me?‚Äù‚Ä¶ahhh that was the true question for me. Yes, Zach is in a better place‚Ä¶I came to that 7 years ago when I found my way back to God‚Ä¶I knew that he was skipping stones with Jesus‚Ä¶I knew he had no pain, no tears, no sadness‚Ä¶but did he forgive me? How frightened he must have been when he fell into that pool and couldn‚Äôt swim‚Ä¶how he must have wanted his mommy to come and pull him out‚Ä¶but I was nowhere to be found. Could he TRULY forgive me for that‚Ä¶wouldn‚Äôt there be a piece of him that was angry, hurt, abandoned, frightened, that he held against me? That was the piece I hadn‚Äôt fully let go of‚Ä¶yes, ‚ÄúThe Shack‚Äù is a work of fiction, but that doesn‚Äôt stop God from talking to His Daughter‚Ä¶He knew that I would read that book, come to that page and see those words‚Ä¶and in my mind I would ask‚Ä¶
‚ÄúHas he forgiven me?‚Äù
‚ÄúForgiven you for what?‚Äù
‚ÄúI failed him‚Äù I whispered.
‚ÄúIt would be his nature to forgive, if there were anything to forgive, which there is not.‚Äù
‚ÄúBut I didn‚Äôt stop him from drowning‚Äù
‚Äú‚Ä¶Zach doesn‚Äôt believe that, nor Papa.‚Äù
And there it was‚Ä¶HIS skywriting in that book;
‚ÄúPerhaps it‚Äôs time to let that go-that lie. And Nan, even if you had been to blame his love is much stronger than your fault could ever be.‚Äù
And there it was‚Ä¶the release‚Ä¶the TRUTH‚Ä¶Zach wasn‚Äôt angry with me‚Ä¶didn‚Äôt hold a grudge against me‚Ä¶he loves me‚Ä¶pure and simple‚Ä¶I‚Äôm his mom and NOTHING would ever change that. He loves me and can‚Äôt wait for the day when I get to scoop him up and twirl him around‚Ä¶just like Jesus does now (honestly I can‚Äôt wait until Jesus scoops me up and twirls me around)!!
And just like that, I‚Äôm free‚Ä¶free from years of self judgment, self loathing, self doubt‚Ä¶in a work of fiction, my God, my Papa, spoke truth to my heart and set me free in His Love for me! God uses all kinds of ways to let me, His Precious Daughter, know how crazy in love with me He is‚Ä¶even in a fictional book called ‚ÄúThe Shack‚Äù.
Thus, the jump in my faith has played out in this way: The ‚Äúspace‚Äù that has opened in me since the guilt, the doubt, the wondering if Zach was angry at me was gone, is now filled with a larger desire to follow my Papa‚Äôs guidance; His path for me‚Ä¶because time and time again, He reminds me that He will be with me through whatever it is I‚Äôm going through, regardless of the pain it may cause, from the “valley of the shadow of death‚Äù to the ‚Äúmountaintops to proclaim His Goodness and Glory‚Äù‚Ä¶yeah, I‚Äôm a Jesus Freak!
Tags: book review