Bookworm Update: The Shack

Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his “Great Sadness,” Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever. -Description from Goodreads

My mom bought me this book, and to be honest, I was a bit skeptical. Like I’ve said before, I am a bit of a book snob and this didn’t exactly fall in my normal book criteria. But I ended up really loving it, not from a literary standpoint, but from a “made me think” standpoint. A quick google search will bring up the controversy that surrounds this book (I actually didn’t realize it was such a hot topic while I was reading it and I’m really not interested in getting into all of that here) but personally, I think Young did a great job with some really tough topics. One of the major points of controversy surrounding the book is in regards to the presentation of the trinity. Personally, I feel like it was the first time I ever felt able to wrap my mind around the whole idea of God, Jesus, and the holy spirit. By turning each into a character in the book, I felt more able to understand each one’s role in our lives. Another thing that I really loved about the book is that it made it easier to understand what God’s love for us looks like. I understand that some may argue that this book is not a correct depiction of God or his love, but to me, it really hit home and made things feel more relateable.

What I loved most about this book though was the way it handled the idea of bad things happening in people’s lives and what God’s role in that is. Hands down, this is the number one issue people bring up whenever people talk to me about my faith. I believe that God never promised that bad things wouldn’t happen. That bad things happen because we live in a world where every person has the right to choose what to do each day. Some people choose to do bad things that hurt others, things that can ripple out much farther than we may ever see. But God did promise that if we trust him, he will use those bad things for good, and he will give us the strength to make it through them. I feel like this book did an amazing job of describing that through a story. Here are some of my favorite passages from the book.

“There are millions of reasons to allow pain and hurt and suffering rather than to eradicate them, but most of those reasons can be understood only within each person’s story. I am not evil. You are the ones who embrace fear and pain and power and rights so readily in your relationships. But your choices are also not stronger than my purposes, and I will use every choice you make for the ultimate good and most loving outcome”

“Just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies. Don’t ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I needed it to accomplish my purposes. That will only lead you to false notions about me. Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.”

“All evil flows from independence, and independence is your choice. If I were to simply revoke all the choices of independence, the world as you know it would cease to exist and love would have no meaning. This world is not a playground where I keep all my children free from evil. Evil is the chaos of this age that you brought to me, but it will not have the final say. Now it touches everyone I love, those who follow me and those who don’t. If I take away the consequences of people’s choices, I destroy the possibility of love. Love that is forced is no love at all.”

While reading The Shack, I’ve also been reading a book called Falling to Grace. The two of them ended up pairing so well that you would have thought it was planned. Hmmm… More on that later.

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