Even though a lot of people have recommended this book to me – I didn’t really take the time to sit down and read the book. My first time trying to read this book was about two years ago, and I found the language too overwhelming to bear at that time (it was quite… challenging, and it still is), so I put the novel back on the shelf and picked up another book to read.
Today, after finishing another book yesterday titled Miracles at Tenwek (haven’t made the review yet, maybe later this week), I am finally drawn to pick up this book and starting to read it seriously. No more excuses, just read.
Michael W. Smith said on the back of the book that “The Shack will leave you craving for the presence of God.” And now I believe it! It is such a powerful novel that I feel like a little child once again, just beginning to know the Lord, and finding my way to trust in Him. Oh boy, what a journey.
Wrapped in fiction, Paul Young, the writer, has beautifully woven the very core of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and eternity. I do not want to say ‘Christianity’ because the book is not about religion. God is much bigger than that. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The God of all the believers, and of mine.
Reading this book, I have been reminded to repent again and again about my false paradigms and concepts about the Lord. While some of them I have already known, it is still easy to forget things you do not exercise or have not fully grasped the true meaning behind it. I feel lost, but as I turn the pages and close my eyes – I know, I have been found.
It took me by surprise because even though I know most of the paradigms, I have not really given much thought about them. One of the things that really strikes me is about the closeness of relationship that we can have with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Shack reminds me once again that we often have our own idealisation about what God might look like, or how He might think, or act. But He is beyond our imagination. While most people may portray God as serious, holy, and the one who holds power – this book also reminds me of the Father-like character of God.
and it’s all about relationship.
While I’m stuck to the image that God is the provider, I sometimes forgot that He is a God who longs for a relationship with us. He is not supposed to be a God that I just pray to everyday, and ask for blessings, guidance, and blah; He is the God that I need to have a relationship with. And in order to establish a relationship, I need to set aside some time to be at His feet.
The Shack has really opened my eyes and straightened my false paradigms. I learn a lot about relationship, judgement, the concept of trinity, love, forgiveness, freewill, the existence of evil, and life. But most of all, I learn to look upon God with a new set of understanding. It’s been an emotional journey for me, and I can not emphasis more on how it means to me – you need to read the book to fully grasp what I’m saying.
I encourage all of you to read this book, and it is not limited to just believers. If you are curious, asking questions, and wondering, what on earth have I been writing about, why don’t give this book a try – I guarantee, you have nothing to lose.
The following is some of the pages of the book. Please read the foreword, and if you have decided not to read further, that’s okay – but just give it a try. I’m sure you won’t regret it :).
[all images below are copyrighted and can be found from http://theshackbook.com/index.html]
Loving quotes, I leave you with some favourites of mine.
Papa (God): “Honey, there’s no easy answer that will take your pain away. Believe me, if I had one, I’d use it now. I have no magic wand to wave over you and make it all better. Life takes a bit of time and a lot of relationship” (92).
Papa: “The problem is that many folks try to grasp some sense of who I am by taking the best version of themselves, projecting that to the nth degree, factoring in all the goodness they can perceive, which often isn’t much, and then call that God. And while it may seem like a noble effort, it falls pitifully short of who I really am. I’m not merely the best version of you that you can think of. I am far more than that, above and beyond all that you can ask or think” (98).
Papa: “Who wants to worship a God who can be fully comprehended, eh? Not much mystery in that” (101).
Sarayu (Holy Spirit): “Relationships are never about power, and one way to avoid the will to power is to choose to limit oneself- to serve.”
Papa: “There are millions of reasons to allow pain and hurt and suffering rather than to eradicate them, but most of these reasons can only be understood within each person’s story. I am not evil. You are the ones who embrace fear and pain and power and rights so readily in your relationships. But your choices are not stronger than my purposes, and I will use every choice you make for the ultimate good and the most loving outcome” (125).
Sarayu: “Both evil and darkness can only be understood in relation to Light and Good; they do not have any actual existence. I am Light and I am Good. I am Love and there is no darkness in me. Light and Good actually exist. So, removing yourself from me will plunge you into darkness. Declaring independence will result in evil because apart from me, you can only draw upon yourself. That is death because you have separated from me: Life” (136).
Jesus (in response to Mack’s question about why he spends a great deal of time worrying about the future): “It is your desparate attempt to get some control over something you can’t. It is impossible for you to take power over the future because it isn’t even real, nor will it ever be real. You try and play God, imagining the evil that you fear becoming reality, and then you try and make plans and contingencies to avoid what you fear.”
Mack: “Why do I have so much fear in my life?”
Jesus: “Because you don’t believe. You don’t know that we love you. The person who lives by their fears will not find freedom in my love… to the degree that those fears have a place in your life, you neither believe that I am good nor know deep in your heart that I love you. You sing about it; you talk about it, but you don’t know it” (142).
Jesus: “Seriously, my life was not meant to be an example to copy. Being my follower is not trying to ‘be like Jesus’, it means for your independence to be killed. I came to give you life, real life, my life. We will come and live our life inside of you, so that you begin to see with our eyes, and hear with our ears, and touch with our hands, and think like we do. But we will never force that union on you. If you want to do your thing, have at it. Time is on our side” (149).
Papa: “Have you noticed that in your pain you assume the worst of me? I’ve been talking to you for a long time, but today was the first time you could hear it, and all those other times weren’t a waste, either” (176).
Jesus: “I don’t create institutions- never have, never will” (179).
Jesus: “Remember, the people who know me are the ones who are free to live and love without any agenda” (181).
Jesus: “Who said anything about being a Christian? I’m not a Christian” (182). “‘Does that mean’, asked Mack, ‘that all roads will lead to you?’ ‘Not at all’, smiled Jesus as he reached for the door handle to the shop. ‘Most roads don’t lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.’” (182)
Sarayu: “It is true that relationships are a whole lot messier than rules, but rules will never give you answers to the deep questions of the heart and they will never love you” (198).
Sarayu: “Mackenzie, religion is about having the right answers, and some of their answers are right. But I am about the process that takes you to the living answer and once you get to him, he will change you from the inside” (198).
Sarayu: “Mack, if anything matters than everything matters. Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will ever be the same again” (235).
“Each relationship between two persons is absolutely unique. That is why you cannot love two people the same. It simply is not possible. You love each person differently because of who they are and the uniqueness that they draw out of you.”
Sarayu: “Don’t ever think that what my Son chose to do didn’t cost us dearly. Love always leaves a significant mark,” she stated softly and gently. “We were there together.”
Mack was surprised. “At the cross? Now wait. I thought you left him – you know – ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’” It was a Scripture that had often haunted Mack in The Great Sadness.
“You misunderstand the mystery there. Regardless of what he felt at that moment, I never left him.”
“How can you say that? You abandonded him just like you abandoned me!”
“Mackenzie, I never left him, and I have never left you.”
“That makes no sense to me,” he snapped.
“I know it doesn’t, at least not yet. Will you at least consider this: when all you can see is your pain, perhaps then you lose sight of me?”