When I mention the new movie “The Shack” I get mixed responses. Back when the book came out I never took the opportunity to read it; life was just so busy at the time. Nevertheless, people I loved and respected both loved it and disliked it.
When my girlfriend asked me to watch the movie with her I was intrigued by all that I had heard; allegory or a literal representation of God? It was time to find out.
When The Shack was originally written my life had been a series of wonderful blessings, challenging situations, hurtful experiences, sadness’s, great joys and blessing: a real mix. Having now seen the movie I believe I would have been deeply moved in so many ways yet it may have lacked a deeply personal response from me at that time.
It’s been over 5 years since an angry, ruthless, greedy individual stole my precious nephew’s life; snuffed out in the prime of life. Christopher was/is dearly loved. Never forgotten. The perpetrator has yet to go to court; Christopher’s’ body has yet to be found.
In the first few months after losing him I used running as an avenue to process and “work out” the angst in my soul. “WHY GOD?? You could have saved his life, protected him, kept him from harm!!! Where were you??” My trust in God was challenged, believing in all I was told He was – love, protecting, caring was turned to disbelief. I ran and ran and ran; all the while shaking my fist at what I didn’t and couldn’t understand.
One day, while running, I dropped on my face in a grass field tired of the battle, tired of trying to understand, and heavy with the deepest grief I had ever experienced. When I got still I heard God whisper to my heart “My shoulders are big enough for your grief and questions. I need you to be prepared to forgive in order to feel whole again.” I sat there for over an hour pondering His words and questioning the latter…forgive???
Back to the movie; seeing it now after walking through such deep sorrow, going from anger to sadness and grief, to asking questions, rebuilding trust in the One who formed and knew Christopher, to learning to forgive ( sometimes daily); the impact of the movie struck me deeply in this single paragraph:
“Just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies. Don’t ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I need it to accomplish my purposes. That will only lead you to false notions about me. Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors. Evil exists, broken people exist, wounded people exist and make devastating choices. These are not acts that I coordinate but I will work for good what evil sought to destroy.” The Shack
As I exited the theater I could feel the tears welling, first in my throat and quickly to my eyes as I began to ponder those words and their impact on me in this season of my life.
I settled myself in my car, sitting there in the silence listening to the wind outside. Out of nowhere I began to sob from my soul, more grief finding a way out! The words had reminded me that God didn’t cause my pain and that he was there at every moment to help and heal my soul and the soul of my entire family. Forgiveness is for me. Forgiveness sets me free from bitterness; forgiveness keeps my eyes on Christ while knowing full well that it doesn’t minimize the perpetrators guilt.
I am confident and long for the day when my entire family will celebrate a grand reunion with Christopher; what a day that will be!! Until then I will fight to forgive and grow even stronger in my faith that God is good, God is faithful, and God will never leave me nor forsake me.
Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”