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March 6th, 2009

The “after words” of The Shack include the following sentence about Mack, the main character in the book:  “He loves larger than most, is quick to forgive, and even quicker to ask for forgiveness.”

Every day of my pastoral life, I encounter people who need a weekend, or maybe a decade, in “the shack.”  I speak not of the book as much as I speak of an in-depth self-disclosure to and conversation with God.  There are pockets of their hearts they have cordoned off from his loving scrutiny, misconceptions about God they have allowed to distort all their relationships, ways in which they have chosen the false security of a system of beliefs and values that is just barely enough to keep life functioning.  It all doesn’t seem quite right, but it feels too risky to strip away protective scabs and heal the hidden wounds.

Last week the extended Thompson family gathered at Nags Head.  We found at the edge of the ocean some condemned houses whose original pilings had been exposed by an eroding beach.  So the owners had driven new pilings deeper into the sand – but those pilings as well were proving to be insufficient anchors.  The houses will surely fall at the next storm.

Sadly, that’s what people often do as well.  When life batters their shaky foundations, they just dig deeper into the same sandy base.

What I long to see is a genuine transformation that occurs only when the human spirit finally encounters the God who made us, seeks us, and gave his life for us.  When we stop trying to figure it all out and just release ourselves into a relationship with him, we finally become free.  One evidence?   We love larger, forgive quicker, and have enough grace to admit fault and ask for forgiveness.

Read The Shack if that kind of transformation is what your soul longs to find.  Read it critically, if necessary – there’s certainly no reason to buy into every page.  But read it with a hungry heart longing to love and be loved by a God who wants to be your “Papa,” your Savior, the Breath of eternity in your soul.

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