Everywhere we turn, we hear heartbreaking news about death and destruction. Our culture has begun to immortalize and celebrate the fights, killings, and dysfunction of not only families but our country in a close-up and personal way; Facebook live, Instagram, and YouTube. What is going on in this world? We can only ask the questions, “Where is God?” “Why do things happen?” “Why does evil seem to be hiding behind every tree, rock, or flower?” In The Shack, written by William Paul Young, he grabs and drags his readers down a path descending to the abyss of the unimaginable.
This novel sets the stage to explore many of the questions we have in our society today. It’s a story that centers on a father, Mack, who loses his youngest daughter, Missy, four years earlier and is still having a hard time coping with the loss. Missy was snatched during a family vacation. Although her body was never found, there was evidence in The Shack that she was brutally murdered by a serial killer. Where was God? Did He know? Did He care?
As the story begins, Papa (God) wants to get Mack’s attention so that he can talk to him. Papa sends a message in the form of a note asking Mack to return to the shack so they could spend time together. Although Mack was unclear of the reason Papa wanted to meet him there, he decides to visit the crime scene and this starts Mac on the road to recovery, healing, and forgiveness.
In this thought provoking and tear jerking story, not only does Mack come face-to-face with Papa, a large black woman, he also comes face-to-face with what and who he thought Papa should be. Papa was not at all what Mack thought he should look like. Papa’s actual name was Elousia. Mack couldn’t focus. It seemed as though she was only a dream, yet he felt peaceful.
As he continued to look around, he noticed behind Papa there were two more people there with them on that day. A man walked up to Mack and started a conversation introducing himself as the fixer-upper, the gardener and sometimes, the cook. Mack’s thoughts were everywhere. He couldn’t help but notice that this person looked Middle Eastern or Arab. He continued to tell Mack that he was from the house of Judah, a Hebrew. At this point, Mack’s mouth opened and his head spun. Wait! He thought. It couldn’t be! You are Jesus! “Yes, I am,” he replied. “I am pleased you came today.” By this time, the third person came walking up to Mack and introduced herself as Sarayu (The Holy Spirit) keeper of the gardens among other things. Mack was a bit overwhelmed. He realized that right now he is in the presence of all three: The Father, The Son, and Holy Spirit.
On Mack’s journey to recovery and forgiveness, the reader learns that God wanted to meet with Mack in order to help him in his grieving process. Sometimes God has to do the unusual, such as send a note, or even a person to let us know that He is waiting to spend time with us. As the story continues to unfold, Papa turns into a white man with a pony-tail. At the end, Papa became the father figure that Mack desperately needed to continue his journey to healing and be restored.
When bad things happen we often ask the question, “Where is God?” In this story, the reader learns that God will never leave you nor forsake you.