Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Shack by William P Young

I read The Shack quite some time ago, and actually hadn't planned to review it. Recent events in my life have brought it back to mind more than once, so although I am not going to do a "proper" review of it, I thought I would explain how I have been thinking about it and why I may be re-reading it soon.

I am not a big fan of Christian fiction, I will say that up front. Much that I have read has been rather twee, or "forced" - as though the writer wanted to give a message and built a weak story around it. Or out of nowhere the main character suddenly starts praying and Amen-ing, and I sit and wonder "Where did that come from?"

But The Shack was somewhat different. Although I understood it when I read it last year, I didn't fully "get it" until now. The Shack is the tale of a man, Mack, whose daughter was abducted during a vacation, and evidence is found in an abandoned shack that she has been murdered. Truly tragic and a tear jerker, no doubt. Mack struggles to come to terms with it for months, and then one day, a cryptic note in his mailbox takes him traveling to the shack where he comes face to face with God.  With God The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.

The story that follows is very beautiful. But without a thorough grasp of what Mack was suffering - oh, I could imagine! I've said many times if that were my daughter, I'd have to be buried too! - but without that grasp of his range of suffering, it was hard to understand what he might have been thinking when he met God. And it's hard for me sometimes to read and grasp other people's vision or belief about God. So I read it and thought "Oh that's nice."

Afterward, I'd pretty much forgotten The Shack. I read it last summer but, while a nice book, I didn't dwell on it. Tragically, several weeks ago my own family suffered a terrible blow like that of Mack's: my husband's father and step-mother were murdered. It's truly impossible to explain the range of emotions one feels, and the utter horror of such an experience. For weeks I felt I were living in someone's work of fiction. That our lives were being controlled my someone else, and that I would wake up from my wide-awake nightmare, snap out of it.  Now I realize that was shock, and that we simply went into auto-pilot for quite some time to try to get through that initial horror.

Naturally, we felt many different things. Shock, pain, terrible grief, great anger. But for a few days, we also had some very strange experiences. Not being very religious, and not at all believing in ghosts - despite my love of books about ghosts - I've never believed in "signs" or any such nonsense. But for days we found them everywhere. Signs that let us know that my in-laws where at peace. Signs that they loved us. Signs that they knew our hearts and how much we loved them.

And one day, as I was sitting with my husband trying to explain to him how I interpreted these "signs", I recalled to mind The Shack. Some of those words came back to me, some of the beautiful explanations given by Young's God, and you know what? They gave me comfort. Because one of the things I am really struggling with is, how will I ever let go of this anger that I now have in my heart? I've grieved before. My own father passed away 17 years ago and that was very hard. But he died of natural causes, and as young as he was (61), one can learn to accept "natural causes". Murder is a whole different level to accept. 

I've never ever understood when I've heard people say "I forgive the killer." I still don't. But I know somehow, one day, I will have to do that. I don't know how I know that, there's just something that tells me so. The Holy Trinity as told by William P Young is a Holy Trinity of complete love, compassion and beauty. His book is not going to be my answer to that, but it's a comfort and, more importantly it reminds me of a very good place to start.

1 comment :

  1. I have to say that "The Shack" by William P. Young was a very thought provoking read.

    After reading the book, I was left pondering several things about it – which is a true testament to the book's worth. I had several questions on the validity of some of the descriptions of God but I had to humbly admit that there may be no answers this side of heaven for how God presents Himself to each individual.

    I posted a more in-depth review of this book on my own blog