My SERIOUS Question, and Your Summer Reading List

By: Jane

May 24 2011

Category: God, Grieving


I’m going to try to combine two trains of thought into one post tonight; two trains of thought that, at first, might not seem to fit together very well.

First, I’d like to recommend The Shack, by William P. Young for your summer reading list. There are few books that I’ve read more than once. The first time I read The Shack I found the experience almost life changing…certainly life deepening. It’s the story of a man whose six and a half-year old daughter vanishes from a campsite in Oregon. His grief over her loss is called “The Great Sadness.”

Little distractions….were a welcome although brief respite from the haunting presence of his constant companion: The Great Sadness, as he referred to it. Shortly after the summer that Missy had vanished The Great Sadness had draped itself around Mack’s shoulders like some invisible but almost tangibly heavy quilt….
He ate, worked, loved, dreamed and played in this garment of heaviness, weighed down as if he were wearing a leaden bathrobe – trudging daily through the murky despondency that sucked the color out of everything.”

Mack receives a type written note which he initially considers a cruel prank. It is a note from God inviting Mack to meet Him at The Shack – the last place that any trace of Missy was found.

No spoilers – I encourage you to read the book for yourself. However, I will tell you that Mack decides to go to The Shack, and it is there that the story becomes life changing.

Some readers can’t get past the fact that God is portrayed as a large black woman called “Papa.”. Perhaps they assume that the author is trying to state that God is a woman. I take it to mean that each of us retains some aspect of God’s image, whether we are male, female, black, white, large, small or anything else.

Now, having told you this much, I would like to return to the topic of my SERIOUS question of several posts ago, when I sought input on the whereabouts of God when a local child was brutally murdered. I was asking, I think, the age-old question of how a good God could allow such a thing to happen to an innocent child.

I read a passage this morning from 1Kings which seems to indicate that there was a time when God took a child to Himself in death, in order to rescue that child from the evil around him.

“Now you arise, go to your house. When your feet enter the city the child will die. And all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he alone of Jeroboam’s family shall come to the grave, because in him something good was found toward the Lord God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.”
1Kings 14:12-13

It can honestly be said that there are worse things than dying. It has been suggested to me that perhaps God did indeed help the young murder victim, by not causing her to have to live through, and with, for the rest of her life, the trauma that was inflicted upon her. I know that God has given each of us the freedom to choose between good or evil, and that those who choose evil inflict the consequences of their deeds on those around them. I do not think that means, however, that God doesn’t get involved. It is possible that because of one person’s selfish choice to satisfy his own compulsion, it became better for the child to be with God in heaven than to remain here on earth. Of course, that means that the consequences of this man’s actions have affected not only him and his victim, but her family, neighbors, teachers, friends and his own family. He left a wide swath of misery.

So, this is where the two trains of thought converge. The Shack, although a novel, is in reality a treatise on reconciling the evil in the world with a good God who allows it to happen. He didn’t create robots who must do as He wishes, but rather, people, who have the choice to do or not to do as He wishes. Everything we do, good or bad, affects others around us. This is not a boring theological book. It is a novel that I believe you will find difficult to put down. I found it so worthwhile that I’ll buy it if you’ll read it. (Current subscribers only, or see me personally. Sorry! Can’t shoot the whole wad.)

Then, I would love to hear what you think of it.


3 comments on “My SERIOUS Question, and Your Summer Reading List”

  1. Jane,

    I happened upon your blog through the “tag surfer” feature and I’m glad I did.

    I read through some of your past post on grieving and was very touched. My wife and I lost our Angel girl to heaven last June which has altered our course as only loosing a child can.

    My sister gave me The Shack to read shortly after Angel passed away. I have to say it is one of my favorite reads. I found it refreshing that Papa God was portrayed as large black woman. It says to me that God is the expected unexpected and is all around us if we just take our blinders off and seek Him.

    The choice to live in Christ is the only remedy I know of to combat any compulsion that may arise from the choices we make. The consequences of our own judgment as a result of the poor choices made, prayfully drive us to repent. The ultimate judgment will come from “Papa”.

    As God created us with free will, He allows life for us to find its own flow encompassing the good and bad. His desire is for us to praise Him either way for what He has given us.

    My apologies for rambling…

    I look forward to reading future entries.

    In Christ,

  2. Hello , Michael! I’m also glad that you “tag surfed ” onto my page, and I thank you for taking the time to read and comment.
    Please accept my sympathy on the loss of your Angel. Since you read a number of entries, I suspect you have found that we have that sad experience in common. But we also have in common the hope that our separation is only temporary. We’ll see them again!
    I look forward to talking with you again !

  3. Read this some time ago. Was not so significant for me only because I was already reading and pursuing these concepts through Rob Bell, Phyllis Tickle, Don Miller, Brian McLaren and others. This book led my friend to God Journey.

    All of these challenge traditional views. All help with the paradoxes of our faith.


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