Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Shack


I started reading this on Sunday - I'm about half way through it. Parts of it have been unbelievably difficult to read. Honestly, I don't know I can finish it. I've been told that it's worth it - but seriously... I think it's the toughest book I've read.

Several people have commented on Facebook about how it's so great - but I don't know. Don't get me wrong, it's well written and the quality is not in question.

But I'm having a hard time.

Truthfully the topic of where is God in the midst of tragedy has always been a difficult topic for me. Why does He allow such tragedy when He has the power to stop it? I've heard countless sermons about it - had lots of conversations with friends about it. But I've never really gotten any answers. Actually that's not true. I've gotten answers - but they haven't really been the answers I was wanting to find. God is God - so He's all powerful - why can't He come up with a way for us to to learn what we need to learn without having to going through such horrible things (like the things I read in this book)? I realize how ridiculous that sounds. But it's a question I've had my entire adult life. I just don't get it. How is not stopping something bad from happening (when you have the power to stop it) any different from causing it to happen?

The trite answer that I get a lot from people is, "well it's all part of God's plan." I have a problem with that - because I believe that God gave us free will. So how does a "master plan" co-exist with free will? They contradict each other. It seems like there's got to be on or the other. Either we all have a free will and we're going to do what we're going to do and we're at the mercy of total chance; or there's a plan - and we're all just a bunch of puppets in which case we are totally exonerated from any and all responsibility because we don't have a choice in what we do.

I don't know. Maybe these questions are evidence that I need to finish the book - but the truth is, I find it very unsettling...

13 comments:

eets said...

I know you won't have a clue who I am...I'm a friend of Trent's, and also Jen's brother is my brother-in-law.

Anyway, I totally encourage you to keep reading. The book is definitely not an attempt at a trite answer though it was often an emotional read for me as well.

Of course it's up to you. I posted on my blog once about it as well, but the bottom line is I came away thinking about who God is and how I interact with all 3 persons of God. It really opened my eyes to some bad thinking on my part.

Diane Davis said...

it transitions, heidi. stick with it. as a person who has a hard time understanding the love of God, the pain of the book is built up so you can have a jolt of the good stuff too.

i have similar questions as yours. i think i would want to punch someone in the face if they said tragedy is "God's will." I know the pastor of our church says one of the things he will ask God is "why in the world did you give us so much freedom?"

of course i can answer like the bible college graduate that i am that we have freedom so we can actually say yes. that love wouldn't be love if we didn't have a choice. but i agree, it seems like it falls short when we are dealing with so many big problems in the world.

blog again when you are done with the book. i'm interested in reading your thoughts.

Don said...

You know my feelings about the book, Heidi. In addition to dealing with the tough theme of suffering, there were just SO MANY profound take-aways in this book. Judgment (ours, not God's). Forgiveness. Restoration. Unconditional love. The continuing human empathy of Christ. The mysteries of God.

And on and on and on . . .

I urge you not to give up on the book. It doesn't answer all the questions. But it helps you better trust the One who has the answers.

Don said...

Oooh....You went vulnerable again on the comment page. I just realized I didn't have to type a word verification. Hope the Spammers leave you alone!

Mom of 5 Who Likes Your Blog said...

I think it is all in understanding the Master's Plan (yes did you catch that play on words?). He does have a master plan that we all agreed to before coming to earth. Yep, we agreed to it.
The plan was that he would give us commandments and we would be free to choose right from wrong - our agency. If he interfered with that it wouldn't work. If we knew we would be saved from tragedy all the time or from heartbreak or sorrow we wouldn't grow, we wouldn't learn.

Mother of 5 who likes your blog said...

One more thought...
God's greatest sacrifice was his son Jesus Christ. He didn't stop his suffering either, it needed to happen so Christ could suffer for all of our sins so we could be saved.
You can kind of see the repercussions that might have caused.
It is the same for us.

Rick said...

I'll add another "keep going" comment. I have cousins whose marriage was healed when both read the book (not a problem in your case), a minister cousin who is making the book required reading for his staff. The theology probably isn't perfect, but whose is? There are so many of us that have read it now, and we all have our own questions, that it would be cool to have some kind of get-together and share thoughts and problems and takeaways from the book

Kirsten Shabaz said...

I haven't read the book, but I understand going through those thoughts as I've done that with my dad several times as you've read in my blog. I do know on this side of it that my faith has increased, my unconditional love for others has increased and the grace I have for not only my dad, but others has increased and several other things that I've learned as a result of the things I've faced. So even though my dad was a pastor and knows the word the choice he made caused us all a great deal of pain. However, I've come out of this "tragedy" a stronger person. Again, having not read the book, I don't know exactly what it's about, but that's my 2 cents. I think I may go read this...Kirsten PS: I've posted pics of me and my dad on FB. Did I tell you how it went, I think I forgot to put you on the e-mail...will send to you.

Kristi said...

Keep reading Heidi....I still don't have all the answers...or even an answer. But I liked the picture of God/Jesus/Holy Spirit that this book paints. I found it overwhelmingly comforting. Let's talk more about it....

Michelle said...

Heidi, we haven't discussed spiritual matters in well over decade. With all of the positive stuff that is written, you may not want mine but I feel very strongly about this book. My church is carrying it in our book store and most of the staff I have talked to at church have read it. It came highly recommended to me by several close friends and I really looked forward to reading it. At this point in time, we will probably leave our church over their choice to sanction it. Honestly, it is just the same old new-age crap, recycled. There are too many concepts and ideas in this book that are a complete contradiction to what the Bible says. The author totally minimizes the importance of sacred things like Jesus' purpose in our life, the Bible, the church, and judgment, just to name a few. I do understand the argument that this book is being billed as "fiction", however if you look at the reviews of this book, over and over again you see people stating that they now have a much clearer picture of who God is or that they don't see anything un-Biblical in the book. The view of God that is portrayed is not a picture of the true saved-by-grace God of the Bible. When people have to change the character of God to be more palatable, they don't really know who God is. I know I will probably anger a lot of people for this, but you discern a fraud by knowing the original, not by studying imitations.

The Craftypigs said...

Heidi (I'm one of KT's friends who reads)...I'm about 1/2 through the book as well. It's currently been shelved for about a month. Couldn't finish it, or got bored, or didn't get it, or didn't buy into it, or something. Here's what I know regardless of the book, I know God better, I am closer to him and am more like Jesus because of the suffering I've been through. While in it, I beg for release, but on the other side of it, I can count it joy and see how I'm better because of it. And without any doubt or question I know God loves me. That's it. That's all I know. I have more questions but with what I know, I don't need more answers. And honestly, I don't know that I'll finish the book. It was bugging me....still is. Maybe I should finish it. I will if you will. --Celeste

Monique Bare said...

We aren't always greatfull for all of the blessings that God has given us in the easy times. But we sure are thankfull for them when we recognize them in the hard spots. Some of the best life lessons that I have learned came through some of the most diffucult challenges that I have been through.

Trish Van Zee said...

I haven't read the book, but as i reflect on the tragic times in my own life, i keep returning to this quote

You will be whole again, but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to. Grief completes an intense cycle of emotional upheaval. It doesn't mean we forget; it doesn't mean we are not revisted by the pain of loss. It does mean we have experienced life to its fullest.

You will be whole again, but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to.