Into “The Shack” – Part Two

the-shack

Continuing our exploration of William P. Young’s The Shack, I will share one example of the deep, thought-provoking truths that make this book one I read in small increments. Any more is too much to process at one time.

God: “As difficult as it will be for you to understand, everything that has taken place is occurring exactly according to this purpose, without violating choice or will.”

Mack: “How can you say that with all the pain in this world, all the wars and disasters that destroy thousands? You may not cause those things, but you certainly don’t stop them.”

I have thought or said something along those lines many, many times in the last five years. Sometimes people will say that they trust God to take care of them. I don’t. What I  mean, is that I do not assume God is going to protect me from want, harm, or danger. He has allowed those things in my life. I know He is able to prevent them, but He doesn’t.

God: “There are millions of reasons to allow pain and hurt and suffering rather than to eradicate them, but most of those reasons can only be understood within each person’s story.

The real underlying flaw in your life is that you don’t think I am good. If you knew I was good and that everything–the means, the ends, and all the processes of individual lives–is all covered by my goodness, then while you might not always understand what I am doing, you would trust me. But you don’t.”

Holy Spirit: “Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved. Because  you do not know that I love you, you cannot trust me.” – pgs 124-126

The last two sentences stopped me dead in my tracks. We can only trust what is real, what is experienced. That is why I cannot trust God, at least not in the same way I did as a child.

I know there is a place for child-like faith, but I’m not perfect. I’m still struggling through all of this. Instead of pretending to be a “spiritual” person I am going to be real. Because it’s what I wish others would be for me. For all the girls out there who have broken hearts and wounded spirits and exhausted faith.

Reality and honesty mean asking the hard questions and not just asking the ones that you know have a comfortable answer.

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13 thoughts on “Into “The Shack” – Part Two

  1. This book has “provoked” a good discussion with a friend and I’m going to be borrowing the book to read it for myself. Keeping and open heart, but a cautious mind! =)

    Everything we read has the ability to affect us, positively or negatively. And anything we read other than the Bible (yes, even so called great Christian books) has to be filtered through The Word as to what is truth and what is not.
    And just because this book is a bestseller says nothing to me. There have been quite a few good books (some great Christian ones!) that became bestsellers as well.

    Thank you again Natalie for being transparent. I trust in God because I know He loves me but at times it certainly is hard to put that faith to practice when one is hurt deeply and it’s beyong my understanding why He has allowed certain things in my life.

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  2. Whew. Reading your posts, and then the comments, has definitely provoked MY thinking. I did pull out the copy hiding up in one of my Dad’s bookshelves, and looked through it again, but obviously I’m just going to have to read it to have an opinion. :)

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  3. I feel like this book is interesting like i said under the prior Part 1.
    But i feel like it’s becoming a sore topic for some…i mean Natalie only wants to provide a safe, fun, interesting and challenging and honest environment for everyone.
    I feel that even though we don’t all agree on this book, and have different opinions on it, we should all respect each other all the same.
    What i also notice in the church, is everyone is very different, There are two spectrums of the Church nowaredays…they fall under 2 categories, and fall everywhere in between..there are some that are all about the love of Christ, about loving on others at all cost, about How God’s love saves us all sinners by His grace and how we should repent YES absolutely but we are sinners by nature and WE can only be made anew by His grace alone….then there is another 2nd spectrum. that falls under the legalistic side, where God is loving yes, but HE is all about justice, and WE should always try to be the best Christian ever and how everything should be just the way WE think it should and things are either black or white.

    Trust me dear sisters, there are lots and lots of shade of gray. Lots.

    And most of us fall somewhere in between.

    I believe in Truth, absolute Truth Yes, and esp. the absolute Truth and Power within the Word itself…But there is also such a loving side behind Our Father Behind Our Lord, HE doesn’t sit on the judgment throne angry or judging us every time we fail. He does hate sin, and He had Jesus die for all sinners so we should be saved and rest in heaven.
    HE loves us all..HE only wants what’s best for us all…And we should always remember that Christ can use anyone as an instrument of His grace..Even a book like the Shack.
    I know i’ve not read the whole book, but from what i heard from many and from the review i read from Natalie..i am keeping my mind open..I will decide once i read it, But to me it looks like God has used this book to have healed many people, to have made others think, and it just seems plain fascinating from the controversy i’ve seen in Christian circles.

    Also to dear dear Natalie..I am so SO thankful that you are so honest with us..There have been times that I didn’t trust God to perserve me from hurts and pains of life, BUT we must remember dear Natalie that God knows each hair on your head, and he will not let anyone of us be scorched by the “flames” or by “pains” No one shall ever be consumed so much so that they lose focus.
    And i have faith Natalie that God will reveal Himself to you in such a beautiful way that Your trust is renewed tenfold and i also have faith that HE can heal and that HE will heal your sweet broken heart. He is molding you for the future to come.
    He has refined you like Fire, and He will cradle you in His arms, and you are a jewel in His crown. Just remember just HOW much you are Loved by our Lord, then and only THEN when this realization sinks in, then the trust will grow.
    Stay strong sweet friend, and Keep the Faith!!
    Walk by Faith and never give up :))

    We all love you!!

    sorry this was so long, OK i’ll go LOL

    Blessings & HUGS always!

    In HIs Love, Jane

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  4. I’m enjoying reading your thoughts on this book, Natalie.

    I fall half-way between it seems in my opinion of it.=-)

    It was very thought-provoking for me, yet it also disturbed me somewhat on other levels.
    Also,the fact I read it while camping with my family–certainly ramped up the creepy factor. (I kept such a good eye on my little sisters that camping trip! *shudder*)
    But, I felt the loving heart of God in that book, even if the idea of “Papa” was a bit odd…and I remember waking my sister up while reading some of the parts on judgement and grace, and hashing it out–considering if it was biblical or not…so I do give the book props for encouraging fascinating discussion to be sure! :)

    I would reccomend in the same vein, the books Black, Red and White by Ted Dekker–for another fantastic/beautiful view of God in allegory form. Those books blessed me so much…

    And Natalie, dear, I keep wanting to ask, but don’t want to hurt you or pry…but in the sadness of being cut off from ylcf.org, did your friendship with Gretchen & Lanier become some of the broken pieces of your heart for Jesus to heal?
    Have a blessed night….
    ~Anna

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    • Anna,
      Thank you for sharing! I’m glad this book provokes discussion. Some of my family like Ted Dekker and I have read a few of his early books but nothing recent. Will keep those in mind.
      In answer to your question, well….I really don’t know what to say. Only time will tell. :-/

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  5. Thanks for this note, Natalie.

    Those last two lines of what you quoted stood out to me as well! It’s impossible to fight to trust someone who isn’t trustworthy — or, rather, who is, but who seems like he isn’t . . .

    I appreciate your honesty, Natalie, especially in saying that you don’t trust God to protect you, etc. It’s something I’ve struggled with too. There’s no guarantee that God will not do/allow things that hurt me or those I love terribly. It’s happened before. And, yet, somehow I’m supposed to be able to rest and be at peace with the knowledge that He is in control. And, in a way, I can be. It’s weird.

    I’ve read extracts of The Shack before and heard a lot of discussion about it, but never read it myself. I think I should sometime.

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  6. Something I’ve seen echoed in the comments is that “this book is not about theology, it’s a story”. And yet…isn’t it about theology? It obviously seeks to teach spiritual truth. Heavy truth – how pain and suffering fits into our worldview, as Christians. The danger of “studying” such truth through fiction is that the conversations and assumptions going on in the book are not seen along side the Scripture they are based on – if any. This can be dangerous for anyone not firmly rooted in the Bible.

    I would far rather recommend the healing powers of God’s word than what seems to be a pretty flawed, fictional work. “Trusting God..Even When Life Hurts” by Jerry Bridges is an honest, Scripture packed look at pain and suffering.

    I know pain and heartache and suffering and tragedy are a very real part of life…and I agree, Natalie, we need to be real about it. It’s not easy, and we don’t always have the answers. But we CAN trust what God has revealed to us in His word, by faith.

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    • I appreciate your being kind and level-headed in your comments, Stephanie. We don’t agree, but you are more than welcome to share and I thank you for doing so. I don’t have time or emotional reserves to give much response right now but I plan on continuing the series so I’ll address some things then as I can. :)

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  7. I understand you are speaking purely from a personal experience. However, as much as we (yes, we) like to think so, it’s not about us.
    It’s not about anything we have or will go through, or experienced in life. Hurt is a part of life, it happens. It’s called the fall of mankind, and while there is usually always an innocent party, it’s still not about us. What it IS about is the shed blood of Christ at the Cross. Did He not suffer the most cruel death for our sake? So that we might have life? Did He not know that we would experience all manners of persecution and hardship, yet again, for His sake? Does the lack of serious trauma or grief in our life make us a more “spiritual” person? Absolutely not. Just as the presence of it makes us exempt from trusting Him all the more. Christ paid the price so that when we DO suffer, and when we ARE wrongly treated (because He said it would happen!) we can be the righteous man that falls seven times and gets back up. Why? Because we’re super spiritual? Because we’re pretending? No, because it is not I, but Christ that is within me. And it’s not a work of my own hands that makes it happen. It’s trust.
    The quotations from The Shack only drive home the fact that it is not a book even remotely resembling of the Christian faith and trust, but rather Humanistic self reliance.
    As I said before, this mystic, new aged, contemplative spirituality garbage is seeping into every pore of the so-called modern day “Church”. Pastors, teachers, and believers are swallowing it whole. Does it line up with the Word? No. Anyone who denies the atonement of Christ, and uses false religion in the writing of their “Christian” book is not of Christ.

    Christ said we would be hated in this World, so why on earth would I want to promote a book that has been so widely accepted by mainstream media? That ought to tell us something right there. If the world LOVES it, I can assure you that it is blasphemy. All you have to do is see if it lines up with the Word. It’s quite simple, and anyone can do it.

    I do realize you are not telling anyone what to do, or what not to do, and rightly so. We are all to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. I do believe that neither You or I would deny being women of Christian faith. Not perfect, but living for Christ all the same. If that is the case, then we are all responsible before God for what we present as having any form of Godly Truth. The only thing I know as Truth in this fallen world is the Bible. I am not against reading books, fiction or non, but you better believe I’m going to read it with the Holy Spirit and the Word as my guide, and if even .0001 percent of its content does not line up with Absolute TRUTH, then it is of absolutely no benefit to my spirit whatsoever.

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