12
Mar
08

Stuff I like from “The Shack”

I just read the book The Shack, and although I am not one to jump on the bandwagon for reading what mainstream Christianity is interested in, this one is good. It’s a little odd, and some might regard it as sacrilegious because it absolutely calls into question our view of God. The theology behind this book is thick, but it’s also “jump up and down, I’m free” kind of good.  It calls into question institutions, religion, politics, and economics, basically our whole heirarchy system in America and in many American churches. It deals with relationships primarily, relationship with God, spouse, children, friends. But it touches on many different themes.  I didn’t embrace everything the author had to say because I am reformed, and he didn’t appear to be. By reformed I mean, I absolutely believe God is in control of everything, and not that God just had foreknowledge concerning the beings He created. In other words, I believe that man can do nothing to thwart God’s purpose or plan; if we could, man would ultimately be stronger than God. I don’t really get into the whole “God’s will, God’s permissive will, or out of God’s will.”  I just believe that God is more powerful than me, my sin and all my mistakes.  These things are fuzzy in my head, but I have to believe God is in control and loves me, and He’s good and only wants what is absolutely best for me.

I practically highlighted half the book, so I will be blogging on this for months to come, I’m sure.  So here goes… “Nobody wanted God in a box, just in a book. Especially an expensive one bound in leather with gilt edges, or was that guilt edges?”  This is the part in the book where I began highlighting.  This made me laugh because I grew up with all the guilt and fear and “can I ever do enough?” perspective. If revival came to town, I was down at the altar every night, because the evangelist said that if I had any other thing that could separate me from God that I needed to make it right. Like I could possibly ever “make it right;” Christ made it right on the cross, end of story. I didn’t know that at the time, so I worried for many years about being in a car accident because I wasn’t reading my Bible or listening to the right kind of music; these were legitimate fears for me. Legalists always use rules to keep people in line.  As a legalist, you don’t talk about your own sin, because you’re always talking about your neighbors’ sins. It always makes me feel good when I can pass judgment on others and still pretend I have it together. That’s why we’re so shocked when pastors get caught using pornography or any kind of sexual sin, because they obviously feel that they can never talk with anyone about these things; that would be admitting weakness, and that’s part of the heirarchy and facade they feel they have to keep up.  I really believe Satan gets glee out believers keeping up their facade.  I think back to college…if I had been able to open up to my best friend and confess to her what my real issues were, I would have given her the opportunity to reach out to me, love me, and encourage me in my struggles. Instead I bottled it up, put on my “I’ve got it all together” face and continued to struggle for almost 2 decades with the same issues. This is where Satan likes to keep me, by myself, isolated, thinking that I am the only one with these struggles.  He convinces me that either my struggle isn’t really that big of a deal, or that it’s best to keep quiet about it because people wouldn’t understand, and I would be looked down on.  I have actually found that the opposite happens.  I was talking to a friend of mine, and Abba told me to tell her about my struggle; after I finished telling her my stuff, she immediately told me that she had been struggling with the same thing for many years and had only shared it with a couple of people. Last spring, I gave my testimony to some women, and I shared with them one very particular struggle that I had been having. One woman literally slumped down in her chair like she’d been smacked in the face. I honestly believe that the Holy Spirit used that testimony to have that one woman face her own same struggle. The last thing Satan wants is for me to bring my struggles and sin to the light; it exposes them for what they are and takes them out of my imagination, which can not only be dangerous but very destructive. Eventually, sin makes its way out of imagination into action that no one ever saw coming.

I have several friends that I have shared my struggles with, and they are there to love on me, ask me how I’m doing, encourage me, and point me to Christ and who I am in Christ. I’ve repeatedly exposed Satan’s lies for over a year now, and they don’t have the same power over me that they used to. I can tell when I start to struggle in my imagination again because I try to isolate myself from these friends. Satan wants my sin to stay hidden in the dark within myself; exposing it to the light (and ultimately to the Light) takes away much of its power and also its fascination.

So, is my Abba in a box or in a book? Absolutely not, He wrote the Book for crying out loud. He’s all around, in me, right here with me, in the absolutely glorious sunset I can’t wait to see this afternoon (and no, I’m not a Deist). I saw the first bud on our dogwood tree in the front yard; it made me smile as I walked to the mailbox. I’m looking forward to seeing the bright, green teenage leaves that will come shortly.  I’m embracing this spring and this Easter with child-like faith and a renewed sense of wonder in my amazing, wild Abba.  “No guilt in life, no fear in death/This is the power of Christ in me/From life’s first cry to final breath/Jesus commands my destiny…WHOOHOO!

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