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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Resting in God Alone

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Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.  Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.  (Psa 62:1 NIV)

Does my soul find rest?

If you’re anything like me these words have always sounded nice, but what does this actually look like? The picture David gives is one of finding rest in a unique place of safety, a “rock” or “fortress.” In Israel these kinds of places can be found on mountain tops, caves, and high rock formations. The problem is that in order to use these safe-houses you have to go up. The picture is going up to God spiritually and resting in Him alone, just the way one would go up to the fortress and stay there for safety from their enemies.

In all honesty, our biggest problem is that we do not go up, rather we stay down.  We stay down in all sorts of ways.  It is easier that way, but it really isn’t safe and it certainly doesn’t offer us any added security.  In order to have a soul that waits or finds rest in God we have to go to God, alone.  Staying down and trying to fight our battles alone simply will not do.  We often try to find help not in God alone but in something else, or we try to add a bit of God at the ground level or on the side.  We must leave behind our own sources of help and go to God alone.   Spiritually we need to go up to God and enter into His presence and wait.

The key is that in Christ we actually have access to God’s throne 24/7 but we must spiritually avail ourselves to Him.  We must spiritually enter God’s presence and allow Him to be our rock and fortress.  My desire is that we would hear the hope offered to us in Ps. 62 and respond by going up to God.