Tag Archives: The Shack

The One Thing I Know

Riding on the back of a motorcycle is a lot like life.  You have to hold on tight, stay steady, keep your eyes forward and don’t panic.  If you freak out and cause the bike to crash, not only will you cause serious injury to yourself and the driver, but also to everyone around you.  It doesn’t matter how scared you are, just keep looking forward and hold on tight.  Don’t make any sudden movements.  Don’t start crying.  Just breathe.

I rode on the back of John’s motorcycle during the Blessing of the Bikes at Kensington Church several years ago.  John decided to sell his motorcycle that day.  Not because I freaked out (because I didn’t), but because Michigan roads, and people who text and drive and don’t pay attention, could all too easily take him away from his family.  Thankfully, we walked away unharmed that day, but we really didn’t enjoy the ride.

I wish I knew then what I learned on Labor Day 2019.  It would have been a much more enjoyable ride.  Josh Isenhardt spoke at Kensington Church on Labor Day and his message was called “One Thing“.  He encouraged us to add one thing, one small habit, that would change our lives over the course of the next year.  Here’s that message:

And here’s what I wrote to Josh 18 days later:

Hi Josh, I wanted to thank you for the message you gave Labor Day weekend at Kensington CT. “Discipline” is one of my top 5 strengths on Strengths Finder, so I couldn’t imagine what small habit I haven’t already incorporated into my life at 47 years old and 25 years following Jesus. So, as you walked off the stage and the band came up, I asked, “Lord, what’s my action step?” And clear as a bell I heard in my head, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” And then the band started singing “Jesus, I will trust you. I know you never fail”, which I took as confirmation that I heard Him correctly. So, since that day, every time I start to get anxious, even just a hint of anxiety, I repeat to myself, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you” and it’s made such a big difference. I know I would have been in tears many times over the last 18 days, but because of that little sentence, He takes the fears away. Thanks so much!! -Beth

In Josh’s message, he recommended the book “Atomic Habits” by James Clear and I bought it.  I’m about 1/2 way done, and it’s so good that I keep wanting to quote about every other page.  Instead, I’ll just quote one thing and let you buy the book (or grab it from the library) and read it for yourself:

“Small changes often appear to make no difference until you cross a critical threshold.  The most powerful outcomes of any compounding process are delayed.  You need to be patient.” – Atomic Habits by James Clear, Chapter 1 summary (pg 28)

We need to keep on keeping on.  If we do, we will hit critical mass and we will break the plateau.  But we have to keep moving forward.  “3 steps forward, 2 steps back” actually works out to 4 or 5 steps back because we’re erasing the power of compounding.  Think of it like taking money out of your IRA instead of keeping the money there and letting the interest compound.

Beth Moore’s 2019 Simulcast, called “Strong Sisters” was on September 28th.  If you know Beth, you know she had a whole lot to say that day, but one thing really stood out.  I’ll paraphrase her:

“At what point will we stop doing what keeps un-doing us? … If we’re about to freak out again, are we grabbing hold of what Christ died to give us?”

Wm Paul Young, the author of “The Shack“, said something similar when interviewed by Chris Cook on his September 18th podcast of “Win Today“.  Paul said:

“Who am I without my brokenness?  I’m more comfortable in the prison that I know than the freedom that I don’t know that Christ offers me.”

I immediately asked myself that same question.  Who am I without my brokenness?  Who am I if I don’t freak out when I’m overwhelmed?  What would it look like to be okay?  To move on?  To hold it together?  To press on?

Last week the toilet overflowed twice in 12 hours.  The only reason I wasn’t freaking out was because I kept repeating one thing over and over again, out loud, as I cleaned up the mess:  “Thank you Jesus for indoor plumbing.”

When I woke up the other morning, this song was running through my head.  I’m so thankful to Smile.FM for playing music that stays in your head and pops up at just the right time.  Guess what the song is called?

Here I am
In a river of questions
Can I pour my heart out to a listening ear?
I see this life
Its valleys and mountains
And I think of all the roads that brought me here
I’ve questioned my reasons
The life I’m living
I’ve questioned my ability
To judge wrong from right
I’ve questioned all the things that I’ve ever called certain
My race, my religion, my country, my mind

But the one thing I don’t question is you
You really love me like you say you do
You really love me like you say you do
Hold me
Hold me

I’ve questioned significance
Meaning and relevance
Does the work I’m doing really matter at all?
Well I’ve questioned my friendships
Alliance, dependence
Who will still be here when I fall?

Only one thing doesn’t change
Only one thing stays the same
All I know at the end of the day is your love remains

-Paul Colman, The One Thing

October 19th is my 48th birthday, but I’m no longer on Facebook, so I won’t be posting this there like I have for the last 5 years.  It’s funny.  I found that Facebook was one thing that I really didn’t need.

Jesus is my one thing.  He doesn’t change.  He stays the same.  His love remains.

Meet Your Maker at “The Shack”

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!”

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Why?

A friend had written to me last year about a young mother who had died suddenly leaving behind a husband and two beautiful, very young children.  This morning another friend posted on Facebook about another young mother leaving behind a husband and three very young children, asking for prayers for the family.  Yes, we will absolutely pray for the family, but why do things like this happen in the first place?  Below is my friend’s email from last year along with my reply.  I hope it brings some comfort.

~~~~~~~~~~

Hi Beth,

A friend of mine is struggling deeply trying to understand how a young mother of two children, one two-year-old and one newborn, died suddenly leaving the husband and the two children alone.

This mother was unlike any other.  Strong in faith, excellent compassion for everyone around her, completely devoted to her children and her husband.  The light of each of the family members’ lives.  This young woman had a blog.  The blog shows just a piece of everything she was and is so compelling.

My friend is struggling in her faith now because of this.  She’s been struggling for weeks. What can I do or say to her to help her see God’s light in this?  I feel like things happen like this often.  And I never know how to make sense of it.  It literally eats me away from the inside out. The children are just gorgeous.  And they’ve been stripped of what they needed most.

Is there anyway you could help me in this?

~~~~~~~~~~

Hi hon,

I’m so sorry about this.  We truly do live in a war zone, a battlefield, a broken world.  This dear young mother was a casualty of war.  War is a horrible thing, but it’s all around us in a realm we don’t see.

The best message I’ve ever heard on this was given by a young mom who lost her little boy to a horrible disease (click on one of the video options under “sermon downloads” on the right side):  Triumph By Testimony  It absolutely astounds me that this mother can stand up and give such an eloquent message of hope.

The best book I’ve ever read on it is “The Shack“.  Actually, I didn’t read it.  I got it on CD from the library and had it all of last summer (2013).  It’s 6 or 7 hours long and I listened to it about 4 or 5 times over the course of the summer until the library made me give it back.  😦  What a beautiful picture of God.

Know that God loves all of His children, but He loves us too much for Him to MAKE us love Him back.  That would make us robots.  He wants true love and true love only comes with choice.  We can choose NOT to love Him and we can also choose to do horrible things.  Even when we think we’re choosing God, we can still choose against Him every day, as we judge each other, gossip, back-bite and argue.  Take that just a few steps further and the results are disastrous.  There is at least a piece of evil in each of us.  God can’t destroy all of the evil in the world, or He would have to destroy every one of us.

I think that’s what Jesus means about the wheat and weeds (Matt. 13).  He has to let the weeds grow with wheat or, when the weeds are pulled up, they will pull up the wheat too.  I think that’s our own hearts.  There is good and evil inside of each of us (wheat and weeds).  I think that’s what the sheep and the goats are about too (Matt. 25).  I’m not positive, but that’s what I’m beginning to think.  We have some sheep and some goat in each of us.  And when He destroys the goats, He’ll be burning up that part of us that choses to turn away from Him.  Purifying us.

I hope that helps.
Much love to you and to your friend!
-Beth

PS God will provide what those babies need most.  They have lost their mother, but God has not lost His ability to provide for them.  Grab onto Romans 8:28 and hold on for dear life:  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

By the way, Romans 8:28 is for you and not necessarily for your friend.  Most hurting people really hate it when people throw scripture at them.  God did not kill that young mom and He didn’t “allow” it to happen because some greater good was going to come from it.  That would be the work of the devil, whose job description is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10), not the work of God.

But God is definitely in the business of taking the bad and turning it into the best possible good.  He knows that the bad is out there and is going to happen. Jesus promised us in John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  I personally think that He’s holding back so much bad that never happens that we never know about.  But I can’t prove it.  I just have a sense about it.

But I wanted you to have the scripture for your own peace of mind.  Know that God is working.

~~~~~~~~~~

With a heavy heart, I ask you to pray with me for these young families.  Know that your prayers are powerful and effective (James 5:16).  Please keep praying.  Thank you!