The Shack Experience
The best thing The Shack did for me was to help me comprehend the love of God to a certain extent. In the face of a recent ongoing social media debate on whether Christians have eternal security after salvation, or that they at risk of hell depending on their actions when Jesus comes back for the church, I am convinced in my heart that we miss out on the best experience to fellowship with God and be with Him NOW during such debates.
Sometime in 2010 or 2011, my dear friend, Matilda, couldn’t shut up about this amazing book she had read where God/Holy Spirit had appeared to someone as a woman and was called “Papa”. It was fascinating but very difficult to grasp at the time but one thing i remember clearly was that she had been refreshed by the book and we had some good conversations that were inspired by the book.
That was exactly how i felt when i finally finished reading The Shack a few days back. It looks like it took me about 6 months to finish this 250 page book because i started reading in January and ended this June but in reality, i probably read for about one week. It all started when the main character, Mackenzie, whose story was told in the book received a note from God in his mail box:
A few years before this note, The Shack was a place where they had found traces and confirmation of the death of his last daughter who had been abducted by a serial killer during a family camping trip. The decision to follow this prompt and journey back into that physical space was the beginning of his healing process or relief from “The Great Sadness” he had carried with him since that weekend he lost his child. None of us — both Mackenzie and every reader of this book was really prepared for the experience we had with Papa, Jesus and Sarayu during that weekend, or day as we will come to see — you know how one day in God’s eyes could be a thousand years on earth because God does not operate in human time.
This quote reminded me of the movie “The Perfect Stranger” where Jesus had invited a woman to dinner and helped her find her way back to him through conversation. Sometimes, i feel a little jealous of people that have genuinely encountered God this way but the Holy Spirit is quick to remind me that I have the same experiences daily as i fellowship if i’m really open to it.
I have always believed that when we meet people and interact, it is our spirits that truly connect and our bodies and souls just go with the flow and I had that eureka moment when the book spoke to this point. Chapter 15 of the book titled: “A festival of friends” spoke to how Sarayu opened Mackenzie’s eyes to see beyond the physical world and he saw Spirits as lights and colors truly worshiping God. The Holy Spirit further explained to him how in real life we do most of our communication non verbally and spiritually with our hearts, minds and spirits which reflects in light and colors in the spiritual world.
There is so much that is still pending for me, so much i need the bible to clarify from the book and the most important being the relationship between “Papa, Jesus and Sarayu” which certain denominations refer to as Trinity. One thing that was reassuring was the power of the love of God and the importance/significance of forgiveness. This part of the book about forgiveness wasn’t new information but there was something very powerful about it still:
“Papa — Mack, for you to forgive this man is for you to release him to me and allow me to redeem him.
Mack — I’m stuck, Papa. I can’t just forget what he did, can I?
Papa — Forgiveness is not about forgetting, Mack. It is about letting go of another person’s throat.”
Mack — But i thought you forgot our sins.
Papa — Mack, I am God. I forgot nothing. I know everything. So forgetting for me is the choice to limit myself. Son, because of Jesus, there is now no law demanding that I bring your sins back to mind. They are gone when it comes to you and me, and they run no interference in our relationship”
One of the most prominent questions in the world especially in the face of evil is to ask why such a good God will do/allow evil on earth. I love this response by Sarayu(Holy Spirit) when Mack had asked around those lines, she said: “Paradigms power perception and perceptions power emotions. Most emotions are responses to perception — what you think is true about a given situation…..So check your perceptions, and beyond that check the truthfulness of your paradigms — what you believe.” You need to come to the knowledge of who God is and see through his eyes, pretty much living out the words in Acts 17:22 -28, Verse 28 says: “For in him we live and move and have our being”.
The movie for this book was recently released and i’ve refused to watch it, at least not yet, because i don’t want anything to tamper with the grandeur of the book in my mind. I encourage everyone who hasn’t seen the movie to read the book first and even if you have, please read the book as well.
I really think there is no way to grasp every concept, idea or knowledge shared in the book after one reading, i need to read it a few more times after consulting the bible but one of the praises for the book captures my experience succinctly “ THE SHACK will change the way you think about God forever”.