The Shack

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Not everyone will like The Shack. I get that. There are parts of it that are questionable from a Biblical perspective. But this movie also revealed some incredible things. It’s a story about forgiveness and the unrelenting love of God.

If you really lean in, I believe, this film will teach you something about the extraordinary love of God and the power of forgiveness.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story, I think it’s important to say right from the outset that The Shack is, in fact, a story. Since it’s a story, you know, it’s fiction. I don’t look to the book or the movie to be doctrine or the Bible.

But I will be the first tell you that it is a beautiful story and one that is worth experiencing.

This story centers around a man named Mack who has experienced unbelievable amounts of pain and suffering. He grew up with an abusive father and loses his youngest daughter when she is kidnapped and murdered. This brutal crime happens in the woods in a ramshackle Shack.

The story centers around Mack experiencing the radical love of God and the liberating power of forgiveness.

The first time I read the book, I was deeply moved by the portrayal of God. I cried at the part where God looks at Mack and says, “I am very fond of you.”

How many of us need to hear that truth–that God is, indeed, fond of us. The film captured this sentiment perfectly too. Octavia Spencer continues to be a phenomenal actress.

But the most gripping part of this story, to me, is the teaching on forgiveness. This horrific tragedy is a part of Mack.

It holds onto him.

It eats at him.

It destroys him.

It’s a mess.

His soul is messy.

This is depicted in the story with a garden that is growing wild. But as Mack is told, it’s a beautiful mess.

As he spends time with God, the mess becomes sorted. Mack deals with extremely difficult questions and ponders wisdom and God’s ability to act justly in the world.

There are a lot of questions and the questions are dealt with not in solid answers, but through the lens of faith and relationship.

As I watched the film, I recalled parts of my own story–the pain I’ve gone through, the tragedies that have befallen my family and friends.

The dark night of the soul has been a familiar experience for me. And this is where I think viewers will be divided.

If you’ve dealt with loss, this movie will speak to you. It will refresh you. It will enliven you. It will, perhaps, remind you of the proximity of God, even in your worst times.

Your soul will reverberate with a collision of this fresh image of God’s relational nature. I know it did for me.

Because I’ve had those moments.

And I’ve shared those moments with others, where we just wondered where God was.

We’ve sat in the proverbial sack cloth and just breathed, hoping some kind of relief would come our way. This story reminds me of my own pain. And my heart fluttered with the words and images of the story.

I thought about the times I’ve wept and yelled and grieved over inexplicable loss.

I know this story has its critics. And I get it. But I would invite you to experience this as a story, as an illustration of God.

The story is a depiction of God. It’s not the only depiction nor is it necessarily a biblically and theologically accurate one. But perhaps like in any art form, you’ll see God in it, in the same way we see God in music and art and in one another.

Let your imagination run wild with the depiction of God.

Because my hunch is there are some of us who need to take a journey to the Shack.

We need to go back to God and hear the words that are so clearly shouted in the pages of Scripture–That He is indeed very fond of us.

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