Reading has always seemed to be about as necessary as breathing to me, but once in a while I will pick up a book that I want to read again and again. The Shack by William P. Young has made me want to hold on to it and just flip back through its pages to some of the remarkable thoughts that have suddenly illuminated my beliefs.
Sometime back my parents called and asked a very direct question of us about our beliefs: Is there any way except through Jesus? Well, no. All the different religions and beliefs are ways that Jesus can get to us, I suppose, but our path to the One God is through Jesus.
Yes, I know: I was going to avoid sex, religion, and politics in this blog. Well, it’s fairly easy at our age to avoid sex; politics feels a little like being invited to swim in a sewer these days; so that pretty much leaves religion. And somehow I don’t feel that loving God is the same thing as religion. In fact, it’s been several years since I sat through one of those interminable sermons that were filled with guilt, hell fire, tithing, and duty. For some reason I would rather give one of my students money for gasoline so she can come to class rather than pay the electric bill for a church building. And I don’t feel the least bit guilty about that.
In The Shack the author deals with the “if onlys” that we knew when our daughter died. He looks at the realities of forgiving ourselves—and of forgiving others. And he speaks of reconciliation—not revolution: “Instead it will be the quiet daily powers of dying and serving and loving and laughing, of simple tenderness and unseen kindness, because if anything matters, then everything matters.”
I have often felt that faith and love should be about relationships. And our identity should NOT be what we do as much as whom we are in the lives of others. A mother, for instance, may not live to see the huge differences in the world that her children will make. But she rocks the cradle of civilization with loving eyes and heart. She lays the foundation in quiet words and in hugs while her husband builds walls of safety and love around the entire family.
When I was a girl, Mom suggested that I read books by Gene Stratton-Porter and Lloyd C. Douglas. The first was a romantic naturalist and the latter someone who saw the human side of those who had walked with Jesus. Both had a profound effect upon my view of nature and of what it meant to follow Christ. I suspect that for this generation, The Shack may have a very important effect upon their view of religion, of relationships, and of God.
Today I saw a video of a man who was born without eyes who is able to paint and draw with perfect perspective. The Shack makes me pray: “If only we had eyes to see . . .”