I just finished reading The Shack and I’d like to be able to remember every little thing it made me think about as I read it, but that would be nearly impossible. The second half of the book was exactly what I needed. It was a story of reconciliation, forgiveness, and love that spoke newly to things I had never given much thought to. It made me ask myself questions like, “Do I really love God?” and, “Do I really believe that God loves me?” I’d like to say yes to both of those questions, but there are plenty of times in my life when it’s hard to do so.
Of course, the second half of the book still had some stuff I disagreed with. There was one particular discussion between Mack and Jesus in which Jesus was basically saying how he doesn’t like church and that Christianity is an institution that only gets in the way of having a true relationship with God. Maybe I read it wrong, and he probably means the ritualistic nature of religion is what gets in the way of a relationship. If that’s what he meant, I agree with him, but I don’t really like his wording of it. But everything else seemed perfect, and I think the little cathartic release of my last blog post was very helpful as I finished the book.
The book brought up some great points about human nature and how selfish we are. We like our individuality and our autonomy. Naturally, we don’t want to have to submit our entire lives to God, especially when we see him as a control freak who will smite us if we so much as think about sinning. That’s how I used to think God was. I used to think it was good for me to feel ashamed every time I sinned. I thought by wallowing in self-pity and hopelessness, I was telling God that I can’t do it alone, but what I was really doing was exactly the opposite. By feeling bad for myself and ashamed, I was saying that I can try harder. I can do better than this. I can be a better Christian, and when I am a better Christian, that’s when I’ll be ready to have a strong relationship with God. The Shack really helped me realize that God doesn’t want me to be ashamed of myself. He just wants me to have a loving relationship with him, and there’s absolutely no way I can change unless I have that relationship.
I loved Mack’s encounter with Sophia, the personification of God’s wisdom. I always knew God loved me, but I never really internalized the fact that he loves me like a father loves his child. Mack loves his children unconditionally, and he displayed this by saying how he could never send any of his children to Hell no matter what they do. He’ll always love them. Until I read that, I never drew the comparison between that kind of love and God’s love. To think that God loves us so much that he allowed his only Son to die for us is mind-boggling. I mean, there’s absolutely no way God could love us more than he loves Jesus. I can hardly imagine how painful it must have been for the Father to watch his Son suffer on the cross. It must have been, because he had to turn away.
The part of the book that gave me some serious goosebumps was the forgiveness part. God loves murderers. He loves them no more or less than he loves me. God can forgive them, and I hold bitter grudges against people all the time. People that God loves and has called me to love, I have a very difficult time forgiving.
Despite some (or many) of its flaws, The Shack really portrayed God’s love to me in a tangible way. It’s overwhelmingly wonderful to know that God is “especially fond of me.”