The thought of losing my son is one that sends a pain down my chest. It causes me to bite the inside of my bottom lip and stare intensely into nothingness as I realise that such grief is one that I could never bare. That’s why when Mack, the protagonist in The Shack, discovers that his six-year-old daughter Missy has not only been kidnapped but murdered, I very nearly stopped reading.
How does a parent recover from such grief? Even more so, how does a parent who has an awareness of God ever trust Him again? I’m not sure if I would. Mack didn’t. Instead, a life that was once filled with love and sweet bedtime stories was now weighed down by a cloak of darkness – The Great Depression. A cloak so heavy that even when moments of hope and normality appeared reminders of darkness and pain seeped in. Where does a parent go from there?
Healing from such would require divine intervention and that’s exactly what Mack received – literally. A handwritten note reading, “It’s been a while. I’ve missed you. I’ll be at the shack next weekend if you want to get together.” – signed Papa (God the Father). The significance of this is that the shack is where the police believe Missy was killed, so why would Papa ask Mack to return? If Papa was actually there – which he was, along with Jesus and Sarayu (the Holy Spirit) – what could He possibly want to teach or show Mack?
What if I said that we all have our own individual shacks? Events in our lives that have left us broken, confused, hurting or bitter. What if God is calling you to return to your shack? I hear you, why would God want you to return to it? But what if I said that in returning to a place of hurt with God accompanying you, healing could take place – just like it did for Mack.
“Most of us have our own grief, broken dreams and damaged hearts, each of us with our unique loses, our own ‘shack’.”
As we know God is everywhere and he is within us, but imagine going for a weekend away in the woods and finding God there, in person. All three of him – if that even makes sense! That was Mack’s reality and what a blessing it was. A weekend spending quality time together and individually with all three members of the godhead. Having edifying and uplifting conversations on creation, God’s love, God’s redemption, and even His judgment. Imagine sharing a meal or pruning a garden with the One who knows and loves your soul, knows your past hurts and who deeply desires to heal them. This was Mack’s reality, and what a healing Mack received.
During this weekend away Papa revealed himself more clearly to Mack; Papa also revealed Mack more clearly to himself. Stripping his soul bear which revealed his judgment towards Papa, his unforgiveness towards his own father and his misunderstanding of what it meant to have a relationship and not merely a religion. You see, Papa’s desire wasn’t to bring Mack back to the shack for returning sake, but he brought him back to heal him from not only the death of his daughter but years of buried grief and pain. I believe that God can do the same for us when we face our ‘shacks’ with Him – when we return to it, dissect it, it’s then that we’ll learn and grow from it.
If you’d like to see direct quotes from The Shack as well as the themes and lessons within the book, click here.