Thursday, November 5, 2009
I have been reading The Shack by Wm. Paul Young. After Bible College, Seminary, An Emmaus Walk, and thirty-eight years as a Christian, I am amazed at how shallow my relationship with the Lord has been. The book is a novel, and should in no way be taken as truth, in the sense that the Bible is truth. It is similar to Pilgrim's Progress as it attempts to describe the challenges of mere mortals understanding an eternal, and uncomprehensible God. And as we know from the Bible, His ways are beyond our ways. Young describes the main character as a man who is angry with a God Who would allow his six year old daughter to be kidnapped and killed. In a sense, the book is a theodicy (a defense of an all-powerful, all-knowing God Who fails to prevent evil in the world). Young presents Mack as a man suffering from severe depression, and he is invited by God to meet Him at the shack where evidence of his daughters death was found. He spends three days with God, Who appears to him in very unusual forms. I say forms (pl.) because the Trinity is at the shack when he gets there. Because of his childhood of unbelievable abuse from his father, and because his view to anyone called "father" is repulsive to him, God appears to him as a woman. A black woman. This takes him by complete surprise, because he had always imagined God as being an old white man with a long white beard. I guess She killed two stereotypes with one shot. God spends three days loving him. God doesn't scold him or defend a lack of action, but merely loves Mack. So many of my preconceived ideas about God were challenged, so much so, that I began to wonder if I ever really understood God at all. The one thing that kept me from seeing myself as a total spiritual failure, was that the description of God's character was "recognizable" to me. I understood more clearly that I don't have a clue what the Creator of the Universe is like. My entire concept of God is what I know from the life of Jesus Christ, "the expressed image of the Father." To be sure, that is enough! I believe that Young's book, however, is purely a revelation of God's grace so that I could be challenged to seek a deeper understanding and walk with YHVH, the I Am of the Bible. Remember, don't let the book's presentation of God be accepted as reality; it is a novel, and is meant to make you hunger for the real God of the Bible.