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How Right Are We? What I Learned From "The Shack"

Today I was reading “The Shack” by William P. Young. It’s one of the only books I have read more than once.

Several years ago, this book crossed my path as it was hitting record sales, from an author who came out of nowhere. As I heard the story line and about the personification of God in the book, I refused to be a part of even reading it. Ironically enough, I received a copy as a gift with a small dedication that reads, “To Shirley, God says He is especially fond of you. Celebrate Life, Gary Sinclair.” In an effort to not diminish the gift and with the advice from my husband that “it was a really good story,” I made the effort to start reading it. (Thank you Gary!)

From the beginning I found fault. The author was too detailed in his descriptions of even grass, to my taste. The main character talked about “millions of years” instead of thousands of years- “Truly he could not be a real Christian!” I thought, passing judgment, as if I could determine those things…who did I think I was? (The point here is I judged the basis of his Christianity. I do believe society has been around for six thousand years, unless the Lord shows me otherwise, which He could because only He knows).

Shortly after wrestling with the duty of having to read it, I finally stopped and discarded it to a shelf in my room. Two years later, as if by chance…God brings me to a point in my life where I am faced with my own “shack.” In the midst of His plans, he has me cross paths with the author at a local church service in a nearby Florida town.

Needless to say, Life slapped me on the face as I heard Paul’s testimony of his life.

You can see his testimony at the link below

A life full of suffering and pain, Paul’s testimony pierced my heart and somehow drew me in and gave me hope. A conversation at the end of the service served to confirm everything I had heard the previous hour. I knew in my heart this man was real. Perhaps one of the few real people I had ever met in my life. I remember his warm embrace as the closest to a hug from our Father, God.

This second time around reading the book, I paused… meditating on the quote Paul Young includes at the beginning of chapter 5.

“We routinely disqualify testimony that would plead for extenuation. That is, we are so persuaded of the rightness of our judgment as to invalidate evidence that does not confirm us in it. Nothing that deserves to be called truth could ever be arrived at by such means.” Marilynne Robinson, The Death of Adam

I pondered about all the times I stopped others from speaking the truth in their lives, because I was indeed so persuaded (who persuades us to believe lies?) to believe I was right. Deep inside I believed (I would not have admitted it, of course) things could only be the way I had learned them or experienced them. So, if in simple matters someone told me the t-shirt was red, I argued (not always out loud) it was a bright red-orange, instead. If in more complex matters, a Christian fellow would say they speak in tongues or God speaks to them, I would disregard it because it’s not what I had learned thus far.

Can you imagine the foolishness of this? To disregard something simply because it had not been my experience.

Well, I have learned God has a timing for everything and for everyone. That timing is different because He chooses when He teaches each of His children His truths. Our Father is not like the school system that teaches per educational grades. In that system, a child must learn everything in the level’s scope and sequence before moving on or else he does not pass. We are the ones that have placed God in a box, deciding to be Lord in our own hearts, determining truth in a way that makes us feel safe.

How willing are we to have God show us outside of what He already has taught us? How teachable are we? What blessings have we stopped as a result of not allowing Him to teach us more? and How much more of His nature and character could we learn if we allowed Him to teach us outside of ourselves?

I had to repent before the Lord. I recognized my god had not been the real God. My god was too little. He was not little by nature, but I had made Him that way with my proud attitude. The real God’s knowledge and wisdom is infinite and way beyond our limited knowledge. He wants to share His knowledge with us, but we must let Him. He wants us to know His Grace and everything that means!

Be willing…

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