Like millions of readers, I enjoyed the bestseller The Shack by William P. Young. Eight years ago it was a title chosen in my book club. This story profoundly stuck with me since, and I give the book 10/10 Shines. Yesterday, I went to the movie theater and saw the film version of The Shack directed by Stuart Hazeldine. I wasn’t sure how the film would live up to the book (a reader’s constant concern), but I think it did it justice and give the film 9/10 Shines. The pieces extracted and played out from the book worked for me on the screen.
With that said, I recommend reading the book before seeing the movie. If you are looking for a better appreciation and comprehension of the multi-riddled, bizarre concepts of faith then this is the starting point. Please note that this is not true dogma or theology and is a work of fiction. Even though The Shack is made up, I still think it conveys profound life lessons:
To try to be good
To avoid judging
To love all including enemies
To know you’re not alone
To forgive others
To forgive yourself
To have faith and hope
To be open to healing
The main character, Mack suffers the unfathomable loss of his little girl who gets abducted and is brutally murdered. His greatest pain comes from the guilt that he couldn’t protect her. He is angry at the God he blames for letting this tragedy happen. In the midst of his relentless grief, Mack ends up having an unexplainable, mystical experience to soften and soothe his darkened heart.
The Shack can be coined as religious, spiritual, hokey or all of the above. The vision that Mack has can be viewed as a dream, a miracle, or a bump on a head from a tornado blown house (whoops, wrong story, but still another inspirational one.) My vision of God doesn’t match Mack’s vision, but as a reader and viewer I don’t feel pressured to believe how he does.
As a Christian, I am captivated by Mack’s journey to confront the haunting permanence of his daughter’s death. I don’t know what in this mortal world, besides faith in another world–a better world like Heaven–would ever help me personally heal from such a thing.
As a mother, I can’t imagine this heinous disaster, and the truth is, I’m not sure I could even begin to forgive something like this on my own; I am human and therefore a judge of good and evil. The story pulls from the Bible and claims that God will judge and deal appropriately with all the wrongdoers. This is hard to just accept in the face of tragedy, but I believe it is possible. In this regard (and many others), The Shack could serve others as a resource of hope and fortitude.
One of my biggest takeaways from The Shack has been the concept of the Holy Spirit as breath and wind. When I became a runner, I embraced this notion. I like to think I am out there wrapped up in the Holy Spirit.
The Shack reiterates the Christian concept of a good God who is omniscient who is everywhere at all times. Mack’s vision gives him a tangible way to feel and believe in the Trinity which is revealed to him in a multitude of ways: as a man or woman of any age or race; as an amazing garden or weeds of wildflowers; as a perfect meal, as a stick of poison (when alone, it’s deadly, but when combined with something else it heals), as the wind, as feelings, emotions, and knowledge.
Viewing The Shack inspired me to be a more vigilant and active Christian during this Lenten Season. The reminders of how to fight the good fight as a sinner are all there.
On a personal note, I’d like to add that human beings crave living proof, yet faith is a belief that is not proven. I think if you are open to accepting it, signs that inspire faith happen. I have personally experienced God in unconventional ways too. He has shown up just when I needed him in nature, music, and a plant that should have died ten deaths by now. If I told you I last saw my father as a black butterfly, you may believe or doubt me, but it doesn’t matter. This is my miracle which I find great comfort in. I have faith that it’s the most beloved of all the signs I’ve ever had from God.
What miracles have you experienced? Share and help others shine on!