Saturday, March 18, 2017

Reflections on "The Shack"

God's Character

If you haven't read the book or seen the movie, "The Shack" is a story of a man named Mack whose daughter is kidnapped and murdered in a shack in the woods. After the tragedy, Mack struggles to overcome his feelings of unforgiveness, guilt and resentment towards God. In the midst of "the great sadness," he is mysteriously invited by God himself to come to the shack and it is there that Mack finally receives the healing he desperately needs.

This story can teach us so much about God's character and His relationship with us. Here are the things that God reminded my heart.

God Desires to be in Close Community with Us

When Mack arrives at the shack, he meets God, the Holy Spirit and Jesus. Together, the four of them spend the weekend like friends, sharing meals and good conversation. As I was watching the movie I was thinking to myself how amazing it would be to have a similar experience, to spend a weekend with God, face-to-face. I can see us sitting on the porch sipping coffee, taking long walks, just resting, Him patiently answering my million questions as I attempt to soak up all His wisdom. Just as quickly as the thought came, the Holy Spirit countered it by reminding me that we have access to that closeness with God every minute of every day. 

The nearness of God, it's the encouraging text from a friend who doesn't even know your situation. It's the racing of your heart as He nudges you out of your comfort zone into His will. It's the scripture that you "accidentally" stumble upon when you need it most. It's a gorgeous sunset at the end of a bad day. 

The thing is, God won't send us a hand written invitation in our mailbox, but He tells us "Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends" -Revelation 3:20. There is nothing God desires more than intimacy with His children. All we have to do is open the door. "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you" -James 4:8.

God Knows Us

In the beginning of the movie, Mack explains to some new friends that "Papa" is his wife's name for God, but it's a little too intimate for him. Because of some pain from my past, I can so relate. The thought of God as a parent has always made me a little uncomfortable. Instead, I like to think of Him as a close friend. 

Understanding that Mack may feel the same in the midst of his self proclaimed failure as a father, "Papa" chooses to reveal Himself to Mack in the form of a woman. I love that! What a beautiful example of God's intimate knowledge of us. He created us therefore He knows us. 

"O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!"
Psalm 139:1-6

Life is Much Easier when We Accept God's Help

Just like Jesus tested Peter's faith by asking him to step out of the boat and walk on the water with Him, Jesus does the same with Mack. Later in the movie, Mack attempts to walk on the water by himself, but finds he can't. How often do we try to go at life on our own only to find ourselves sinking? 

From my experience, when I try to handle situations on my own, I find that my situations handle me. I get stressed out, easily offended, I lose my patience and I lose sight of the good around me. Mark 10:27 says "With man this is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God." It's the days that I allow Jesus to take my hand and walk with me that I find strength when I thought I had none left, patience even when I'm spread thin and joy in the struggle. 

"Overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loves us" -Romans 8:37. Jesus takes Mack's hand, reminds him that things are much easier when they do them together and they take off on the water with ease. 

God Doesn't Highlight the Evil

If you're like me, as Mack headed out to the shack, you were assuming he was going to find out the details of Missy's death, maybe even meet her killer face to face. You were thinking, what will God say to Mack about the murder of his own father? But, as I think back on the movie, I realize that highlighting the evil in Mack's life was never Papa's intention. He tells Mack "when all you see is your pain, you lose sight of me." When we dwell on our past, our failures, our disappointments and our mistakes, we rob ourselves of the blessings that our pain can produce. 

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 says "We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies."

When we experience suffering in the this life, we can rejoice because we know that through our suffering God draws us closer, redeems us and makes us more like Him. God didn't invite Mack to the shack so he could relive the pain and suffering of losing his daughter. He brought him to the shack so He could reveal His glory through the suffering. 

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this movie, but if you haven't seen it I highly recommend it. It may be just what you've been needing to set your relationship with God on fire again.

No comments:

Post a Comment