Why Everyone Should See the Shack

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Why everyone should see The Shack

I was asleep to the ocean of pain in my own life, and The Shack woke me up.  My traditional upbringing rarely equipped me with models that adequately handled the pain in a healing way. Consequently truths about God were impressed on me that left me uncertain about a God that seemed far more interested in right behavior than relationship and a deep connection with Him. I was trained in biblical academics at some of the finest institutions, but I doubted God’s goodness, and I had invisible walls between myself and God. The pain of my experience clouded my mind and most importantly my heart.

What do we do with our pain in the face of a God we have been told through traditions is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving but allows so much pain and feelings of injustice? These are the questions The Shack addresses through a fictional story designed to help us see and know a very real side of God and relationships that are so desperately needed in our pain.

When the book, The Shack, was released there was a buzz, often negative but also some positive about its story. Theologians, bloggers, and spiritual people all weighed in on its so-called “heresy and flaws.”  My wife, Lisa, hosted a book discussion and several women read and digested the book deeply. It was, as of today, the largest gathering she has hosted. Why? It wasn’t because they were riding a wave of “pop-culture-heresy,” but because The Shack touched and addressed some of the deepest and most profound questions about our spiritual lives. And it provides an imaginative, yet accurate, story of how to understand God and process our pain.

To understand The Shack we have to consider its genre and purpose. Although it might be fair to say the story leaves out and challenges some classically held views on God and His nature, what it does present is a corrective balance through a picture of real aspects of God that bring healing and hope. The Shack presents, through imaginative storytelling, the power of a God that loves deeply and knows everything – far beyond our limited and quite judgmental vantage points. It highlights God’s profound wisdom in the face of our so often rash and inept ways of handling evil and the ocean of pain it brings. The Shack demonstrates a God that enters into our pain, handles evil in a far bigger and more glorious way than we my dream, and brings the wisdom of His grace and forgiveness to our hearts. Rather than focusing on wrath and punishment, we see in The Shack a real side of God and his immeasurable wisdom. In The Shack we see a glimpse of God’s truth and gracious love woven into a fictional story to bring help, hope, and healing to our broken hearts.

In the recent release of the film, The Shack, it has yet again stirred up a buzz. I’ve read several blogs and articles condemning the film as “heresy,” yet many of these articles miss the main point. We are designed for relationship with God and each other – His image bearers. Our brokenness, pain, and limited perspective cloud our ability to trust Him and His vast and patient love. We know that God’s kindness, tolerance, and patience leads us to healing through repentance and forgiveness (Romans 2:4), and that the depths of His loving and wise ways are beyond our limited imaginations and responses to pain (Romans 11:33-36). The Shack helps us enter into a deeper spiritual world and divine perspective that better define wisdom and forgiveness.

To be sure The Shack doesn’t cover all the aspects of God’s nature, and due to its genre it mainly highlights element so often missing in our thoughts about God. Christians need to watch the film and read the book with open eyes to discern what is missing, but I believe to also receive the elements that it was intended to present. If we receive The Shack this way, we just might find the God that is really there, really does have answers, really does provide help, hope, and healing for the pain and evil in our hearts.

For these reasons and so many more, I think everyone should see The Shack.

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Courage

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Courage.  You can’t lead and win without it.  Finnish drivers lead the world in rally car victories, and they do it with with a culture of driving courage. In Finland, they teach their drivers “sisu.”  Sisu is the Finnish word for “courage,” but its nuances are deeper than our English word can convey.  Sisu means something deeper than basic courage.  Sisu means courage-wisdom-skill, and the ability to face fear to accomplish task at a higher level.  The question is: What task do you face that requires “sisu” to overcome and succeed?

People of faith and desire for victory know that leadership is full of the need for sisu.  We have to face our fears and proceed in faith that God will accomplish more than we ever dreamed possible, and not hold back in a tough turn life throws at us.  We need courage.

Eph. 3:20 tell us that when we operate in our Spirit empowered calling in Christ, God will be able to do more than we can even imagine if we have the courage, or “sisu” to trust Him through every challenging twist of the race.

We need to drive on the road of life with courage.  As a rally car driver faces a turn, he doesn’t just “slow down” but faces the corner with sisu.  That means braking just right, getting the right gear, and accelerating through the turn to maximize the hitting of the apex to perfectly follow through with speed, even in the face of the fear of crashing.  Drivers need courage to face the challenge of the corners and keep the most momentum through them.  Life is full of twists and turns on rough roads that appear dangerous.  Christians need the courage of the Spirit to move forward with maximum momentum and not lose heart.   Today I’m sure you faced some rough turns, and we know many are yet ahead of us in the race of life.  Let’s cultivate a culture of courage and get a little more “sisu” in the Spirit!   God will provide and give us the ability to face the turns for the advance of His Kingdom.