If God is so good, why did He allow my little girl to be murdered? That was the question that haunted Mack and kept him stuck in The Great Sadness. How many of us are stuck in a great sadness of our own, brought on by one tragedy after another, day after day? Would we jump at an opportunity to have our questions answered by God Himself? One day, Mack received an invitation to meet God at “The Shack” to do just that. I would like to invite you to do the same.
Have you ever invested hours and hours of your life in great book, only to go to the movie theater and be completely devastated by how a wonderful book could be turned into such a disappointing use of two hours? This is not the case with the movie “The Shack”.
I spent much of the summer of 2013 listening to “The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity” by William P. Young on CD in my car. I listened to it a full three times before the library insisted that I give it back. And when I found out that the movie of “The Shack” was going to be released on Friday, March 3, 2017, I grabbed my print version, which I had never actually read, and dove in. I’ve invested a good 25 hours of my life in this book, and the 2 hours and 12 minutes that I spent on Saturday, March 4th watching it unfold on the big screen did not disappoint.
Actually, the only criticism I’ve heard about the movie is that “Father God”, also known as “Papa”, is played, for most of the movie, by a an African American female actress. If God is our Father in Heaven, why is He portrayed as a woman in a dress? That’s another question Mack wanted answered. Papa responded:
“To reveal myself to you as a very large, white grandfather figure, with a flowing beard like Gandalf, would simply reinforce your religious stereotypes, and this weekend is not about reinforcing your religious stereotypes.”
I would say this entire book (and movie) is all about challenging our religious stereotypes. How many of us struggle with God as a Good Father simply because we have no earthly example of a good father? Might it be freeing to see God through fresh eyes?
Consider Genesis 1:27:
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
If God made us male and female in His image, then His image contains both male and female attributes. God demonstrates this throughout the Bible by referring to Himself not only in “fatherly” terms, but also in “motherly” terms. Here’s just one example. The Apostle Matthew records Jesus lamenting over His children with a Mother Hen analogy:
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” – Matt. 23:37 (NIV)
Papa has full knowledge of Mack’s “father wounds” that keep him far from a Fatherly God, and so He presents Himself as Mother. And this is just one example of God’s goodness and kindness portrayed in “The Shack”.
Another example has to do with the rest of the Holy Trinity and another character known as “Wisdom”. Papa is an African American woman and, later in the movie, a Native American man. Jesus is a Middle Eastern Hebrew man. The Holy Spirit is an Asian woman. And Lady Wisdom is a Hispanic woman. What a beautiful picture of God’s Kingdom:
“Red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
– Clare Herbert Woolston
So, if you’re red or yellow or black or white or purple, if you have questions for God about good and evil and why He allows such things, I urge you to go see “The Shack”. And if you want to know more, read “The Shack” (or take it out of your library on CD and have it read to you). Eugene Peterson, who wrote “The Message” paraphrase of the Bible, is quoted on the front of my print copy of “The Shack”:
“This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his. It’s that good!”