The Shack–A Review and Reaction

As promised in my previous post, here is a review of the book I just finished reading. I was describing my reaction to someone the other day and used the words ‘simple, but profound’ in how I felt about the book. It was almost like God had opened blinders that had been over my eyes. Before I get any comments stating the obvious, let me tell you that I am aware it is a Christian fiction book. Fiction, as in not being true. I do understand this. I think though that the story itself is a picture of what God would like for our relationship to be with Him. He wants us to talk to Him, to talk to Him about everything. The good times. The bad times. The in-between times. In other words, talk to Him about our lives.

And to be honest, I think theology gets in the way of that. We talk about the benefits of accepting Christ when our lives here are over. John 3:16 is a good example. “For God so loved the world that he gave His only son; that whosoever believes shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

We talk about the rules we need to follow. The Ten Commandments and any other verse of Scripture that states what appears to be a rule are all good examples.

But, we don’t do a good job of modeling what a RELATIONSHIP with God should look like now. We don’t teach how we can talk to God and how we can listen for His still, small voice. We don’t form relationships ourselves with new believers so they can see what this looks like in our lives.  We just clap them on the back and move on to the next person.

This isn’t what God wants. He wants us to be in community with each other and share life with each other–the good and the bad. I think Christians have problems with this for two reasons. One, they never learned what a relationship with God is supposed to be themselves, and the other, well, the concept of grace is something they never learned about either. Their relationship with God, and I use that word loosely, is full of rules, legalism, and distance with a hope they might get it right and might get to heaven.

Others reject God because of the bad things that have happened in their lives including the main character of this book. Yes, I bet you were wondering when I’d finally get to the review portion of this post. 🙂  Mackenzie Phillips (or Mack as he likes to be called) has suffered a tremendous loss which has affected his relationship with God. He states that his wife, from the onset, had a deeper relationship with Papa, as she calls God, than he did. So, when this tragedy happened , it makes sense that his relationship with God distanced.

When the book begins, it has been 3 1/2 years since the kidnapping and probable murder of his youngest daughter Missy, and something he calls The Great Sadness has settled over him and over his family. They were still functioning as a family, but I’m not sure it would really be called living, more of a state of grieving than anything else. Mack finds a note from Papa (aka God) in his mailbox inviting him to spend the following weekend at the shack. This throws him for a loop because the shack is where the evidence of Missy’s probable murder was found. He first thinks the note is somewhat of a joke and doesn’t think it is serious at all, but then decides he doesn’t like where he has been stuck and decides to go. I won’t give away the entire story, but let’s just say the meeting doesn’t go entirely as he expected, and his life completely changes because of what happens there. He learns what a relationship with God is supposed to look like, and it is unlike anything he had ever been taught, in church, in seminary, or anywhere for that matter.

I want that kind of relationship with God–an ease of talking and listening like I have with my good friends here. An acceptance of the grace Jesus has already given us and knowing that we are worth everything to Him; worth enough that He died for us on the cross, and that no matter, no matter what anyone else says, we are His sons and daughters for eternity.

Wishing that kind of relationship for all of us today!


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