“…most of what I experience and have experienced in the way of help, encouragement, and wisdom in the actual day-by-day believing and praying, loving and hoping, helping and persevering, obeying and sacrificing in the name and for the sake of Jesus comes from people who aren’t considered competent to give it.”
– Eugene Peterson, Leap Over a Wall (emphasis mine)
You may be familiar with Paul Young’s bestselling novel The Shack from a few years ago, along with the uproar and controversy that accompanied its release, as well as the contrast between readers who lauded its picture of God and critics who deemed it to be heresy.
Though I read the web conversations and reviews, I managed to avoid buying the book and having to read it. I listened to the critics who brought up their myriad issues with Young’s theology, and to those who said that while those issues were present, Young nailed the love and compassion of God, and in a manner that touched their hearts.
I’ve seen this play out in the past week on my church’s message board, and it led me to finally break down and buy the book.
Without spoiling the plotline, let me say I’ve read through maybe 1/3 of it, the first five chapters.
We live in a world where God often seems silent, even in our toughest and hardest moments.
In chapter five, there is a sequence where the three characters Young portrays as the three members of the Trinity show love for the main character in a manner that I hunger for God to show to me. Sometimes, He has; I haven’t seen it enough…perhaps because of my own human limitations.
I already see why people who love this book do so.
As I finish this book, I want to understand what Young is getting at, and what I should take away from it as a Christian.
I understand The Shack is not Scripture…but if I can’t get anything helpful out of it, then I can get nothing helpful out of Pilgrim’s Progress, nor Narnia, nor any other piece of literature.
I said on the church message board “Some folks learn truth most from a simple story.” I never got a response to that from the poster I addressed…maybe that’s good, because he’s a Reformed thinker-in-the-making and he would kick my butt in a debate 🙂
Then again, ultimately I’m not looking to live my life to please Reformed thinkers…I’m looking to be right with God, and faithful to Him, and please Him, as well as make it through the pearly gates when my race is finished.
I know I probably won’t find the great Reformed theologians in this novel.
But they’re not the One I’m looking for.
I am unsure what to do with this very personal blog…but for now and the forseeable future, I’m parked here on the web.
Right now I’m involved in a great church, and God is working in me (despite myself) in ways seen and unseen.
One of those seen ways is through the sometimes messy realm of relationships – which doesn’t come naturally to me at all.
Yet, we are not called to be lone rangers – we life the Christian life in community, in relationships – with other human beings who also follow Christ, and in relationship with Christ Himself.