My Christ Care group is reading The Shack for our Bible study. This is a departure from our usual devotion and I was a little concerned at first…our group had never used a book before and even though we purchased the study guide, I was worried about how the discussions would be led. But after reading the book and participating in our first lesson, my fears were allayed. The book is well worth reading and I encourage you to either read it or see the movie.
Without giving away too much of the story; a father, Mack, questions God’s plan after losing a child. He is swallowed up by a “Great Sadness” and numbly goes forward but is struggling with his faith and no longer finds the joy he once had. Then a letter comes with an invitation to meet God at the Shack. At first he ignores it but he eventually gives in and goes to the Shack to find God. Then the fun begins…
God is there along with Jesus and Sarayu, the Holy Spirit; and with their help, Mack begins his journey of healing. God answered Mack’s questions simply and patiently and when Mack didn’t quite get it, Jesus took over, then the Holy Spirit. Each explained it a little differently until Mack understood. After a weekend at The Shack, Mack was transformed and felt joy again…he was able to move forward and leave the Great Sadness behind him. As I read the story, I couldn’t help but be a bit jealous of Mack. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to sit and talk to God; to be able to ask questions and get an immediate response; to hear the word of God straight from God’s own mouth?
When I was going through my own Great Sadness, I longed for answers as well. Why didn’t God heal my husband? What was the purpose of taking him so young? How was I supposed to go forward alone? Where was my invitation in the mail to meet with God face-to-face? But truth be told, if God had sent me a letter, I would have thought it was a prank and thrown it away. I wouldn’t have had the courage or faith to blindly go to a Shack to meet God. God knew that, which is why He chose a place where I would be comfortable and He spoke through people that I trusted.
My invitation was more subtle than a letter in the mail. Instead, He sent me to First Presbyterian Church. This Church has been my Shack and God has used the people of this Church to speak to me. The answers have come, but not as spectacularly as they did for Mack. Instead, God slowly worked in my life and sent messages through people and scripture; and after a painful three years, the Great Sadness is lifting and I am finding joy again. Thank you for being part of my journey and for the part you have played in my healing.
If you are dealing with a Great Sadness, I pray you will find your “Shack” where you can talk to God and find your answers. He is there, waiting for you. Don’t be afraid to go when you get your invitation.