I recently finished reading The Shack, by William P. Young. It was recommended to me by various people, so I decided to pick it up. As I’m typing I’m sort-of at a loss for the words to describe it, because I have mixed feelings. It is definitely a one-of-a-kind story. I can’t think of anything to which I can compare it. On the front cover Eugene Peterson quotes, “This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his. It’s that good!” Now, I think the book was good, but I’m not sure I’d compare it to Pilgrim’s Progress. Very basically, the main character, Mack, loses a child, and the rest of the book is about his “journey” through healing and finding out what it truly means to trust and walk with God. There are some parts of this book that are disturbing to me, such as how the 3 persons of the Trinity are portrayed, but I won’t go into all of that so as to not give the story away.
Although, there are moments when Mack has conversations with God that are both enlightening and encouraging in my own perception of God and how He loves us and what it means to trust Him. There is one particular page in the book that spoke directly to me and addressed one of my greatest fears. To explain, I have a great fear of what the future holds. I am rather controlling by nature and an intense planner. The fact that I can neither predict nor control the future makes me feel, well… out of control. 🙂 The fears I have involve death, mainly – that I’ll die and miss out on this wonderful life that I lead. Or I’ll lose a loved one in some horrific accident. Or that Jason will die and never get to meet our first child, etc., etc. I know this is so morbid, but I’m just being candid. Anyway, page 142 of The Shack touched me deeply at a super-deep point of fear. “Mack” could be replaced with “Casey” in this excerpt, and it would make perfect sense. Here it is…
“Again Mack stopped and thought. It was true. He spent a lot of time fretting and worrying about the future, and in his imaginations it was usually pretty gloomy and depressing, if not outright horrible. And Jesus was also correct in saying that in Mack’s imaginations of the future, God was always absent.
‘Why do I do that?’ asked Mack.
‘It is your desperate attempt to get some control over something you can’t. It is impossible for you to take power over the future because it isn’t even real, nor will it ever be real. You try and play God, imagining the evil that you fear becoming reality, and then you try and make plans and contingencies to avoid what you fear.’
‘Yeah, that’s basically what [The Holy Spirit] was saying,’ responded Mack. ‘So why do I have so much fear in my life?’
‘Because you don’t believe. You don’t know that I love you. The person who lives by their fears will not find freedom in my love. I am not talking about rational fears regarding legitimate dangers, but imagined fears, and especially the projection of those into the future. To the degree that those fears have a place in your life, you neither believe I am good nor know deep in your heart that I love you. You sing about it; you talk about it, but you don’t know it.’
Mack looked down once more at the water and breathed a huge sigh of the soul. ‘I have so far to go.’”
I realize not everyone has the same fears, but my guess is that most people have “issues” with the future. I hope this passage encourages you. It definitely impacted me – A LOT. I must believe that He is good and that He loves me, so that when I sing about it and talk about it, I am fully convinced. This way, as I faithfully walk each day that I have left on earth, my life will be deeper and richer and I will be full of joy instead of fear.