'The Shack' - Mary Jane Holt

With the turning of each page, we become more and more convinced that God is absolutely unlimited when it comes to making known His presence, His love and His amazing grace.

"The Shack," by William P. Young is a remarkable reminder of the innumerable and, oh so glorious aspects of God, as it provides new revelations regarding His ability and willingness to manifest Himself anyway, anyhow, anywhere, for the sake of His creation.

This book also deals with judging, and forgiving, better than any single biblical passage or story that I can recall. So, let me warn you: if you are bitter, angry and hurting and want to stay that way for a while, then, "The Shack" is not for you. Not yet ...

You see, I am becoming more and more convinced that all things truly DO work together for our good. I am learning that each and every action, each set of circumstances, each unique experience must work out within our souls the purpose (s) for which it was sent.

Now, I know the Bible quite plainly tells us that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. We have discussed that many times in the past. But, folks, if you try to tell me you do not wonder... do not doubt ... do not question ... well, chances are, I might not believe much of anything else you might say to me.

When horrible tragedies come upon us, we all have our struggles. Unimagined questions sneak out of the corners of our minds and hearts and, oft times, travel to our lips. We ask "Why?" "How?" We cry out, "If only ..." We agonize over our personal mistakes and losses. We grieve and, oh my, do we ever question!

Then, along comes something like "The Shack."

With no more than $400 spent on marketing, the author and his publishing partner woke up a year or so after publication to more than 700,000 copies sold! Word of mouth now has more than a million copies in circulation, and it's available on audio, as well.

So, where did this little surprise bestseller come from? Why is everybody talking about it? It's like this: When you set out for "The Shack," you set out to meet God.

I was ill prepared for the trip! Shock overtook me when God told Mack that He (God) is hurt because some folks seem to like Jesus more than Him! I squirmed as I read, wondering silently if Jesus knows I have always liked God more than Him.

Then the Holy Spirit moved in like a gentle breeze to soothe away my uncomfortable wonderings. "Just read ..." she whispered. And so, I read from the pages that were never meant to be anything more than a Christmas gift for six children.

Young's wife, Kim, had encouraged him to "just try to put in one place how you think, cause it's kind of out of the box."

What a magnanimous understatement. Throughout this little novel, there are no walls, no boundaries, no theological discussions that stand in the way of good cathartic storytelling.

The book came from the heart of a man who'd known much anguish over the fifty years he has said it took him to write "The Shack," though it only took months to record the words.

His novel taught me much about forgiving others. It drove home more vividly than anything I ever have read the dangers of judging others. But more than anything, my first visit to "The Shack" taught me tons about the importance of me forgiving me.

I have told you before that I tend to have far more regrets over things I do not do, than over things I do. Such regret can become very heavy guilt and guilt can make you weak and unproductive, even physically ill.

And false guilt ... well, false guilt is the worst kind!

So, if you've been there, or if you are there now, go to "The Shack." One reader asked the author how to go there. His answer: "You don't usually go there happy and skipping and leaping for joy. It's a process. Find a shoulder to lean on; then become one."

To hear William Young talk, one becomes very much aware that the writing of "The Shack" set him free. Free to be. Free to become.

The reading of it can do the same for you and me.

Mary Jane Holt, an avid reader, book lover and spiritual thinker, writes an occasional column for the weekend edition of the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald. You can visit her at: www.maryjaneholt.com.