This is a story, maybe a testimony, about the relevance and the similarities in the movie, ‘The Shack’, and my own experiences in life. As a result, I have my own Shack story to write out, maybe even share.
What is ‘The Shack’ and why does it relate to me? ‘The Shack’ is a fiction story, first written as a novel then a movie, my husband and I saw the movie recently. It is a story about a tragedy in a young family, the cruel murder of the youngest child while on a weekend camping adventure. With the child’s body not found, the family, especially the father, have a difficult time coming to terms with the reality of the present day along with his wife and their two other children. One day, he finds a letter in his mailbox telling him to go back to ‘The Shack’ and meet with ‘Papa’ (the families name for God). Bewildered, he tricks his friend into getting his car for the weekend, as his family had other plans, and he heads off to the unknown, an adventure, a fantasy story, a journey that in a few scenes, I found myself relating.
Hence, I write – My Shack.
I will reference where I can relate, you are welcome to watch the movie or read the book to get the actual details. Most people can relate with pain, loss, hurt or many issues of life that have a need to draw one close to the Fathers heart of Love. Mine was no exception and my story is my not my tale, the healing Grace of my Lord, Jesus Christ is my story.
Life lessons did not direct me in righteousness, the Bible nor to learn about Jesus as my Father, Friend, and Counsellor growing up. I was encouraged to go to church with friends as a child and for me that was good, it was a fun place, it was safe and I was out of the house. I was confused growing up and my adult decisions took me down a similar path experienced by my younger years. Happily married, or so I thought, with 2 young children I found myself in despair, in depression seeking help at first with prescriptions for pain that was crippling my body then later choices that led down a dark road for several years. I knew about God, I knew about church but that was all. Like the character in ‘The Shack’ I could do with a letter from ‘Papa’ inviting me to go on an adventure!
My scenario … my life was desperate, I was not functioning well on the inside, my mind had no peace, my choices were circling around without direction, and my family life was suffering. I was searching God through church just as I was doing as a child and I wasn’t getting anywhere. HELP! I thought I had made a commitment to Christ and I called myself a Believer, I was studying the bible by myself, I was going to church but I was stuck!!! Life hurt so much and there was no one to talk to, no one who was experiencing my pain….
’Why is this happening to me God?
If You are God, then change it?
I didn’t ask for this?…’
…sound familiar? Well, one night I crashed and well, you know how it goes I am sure – I called out to Jesus, ‘I need You because I can’t do this myself!’
Jesus answered and the relationship started.
In the story, ‘The Shack’, the character finds himself yelling at God because of his pain, his grief, his loss and calls for help.
Jesus answered and the relationship started.
Now, let’s fast forward in the movie to a beautiful time in the characters relationship with Jesus. To his delight, his daughter seen happily playing with other children is in a beautiful valley surrounded by rising hills. The green valley is lush with brightly coloured daffodils under a clear blue sky and along comes Jesus to play and enjoy the day with his daughter. This time of healing confirms for him that Heaven is for real. He is at peace despite the agony of loss in his heart.
This scene brought tears to my eyes because as I came to know Jesus in relationship He took me back to a time in my childhood when we both played in that EXCACT, same scenario! I wanted to freeze the camera in motion and yell out – it’s me Jesus! My heart took a leap, wow – how could someone see into my heart what Jesus had given me. This was and still is a precious moment in my faith, this vision of love, security with my Father. WOW!
Fast forward, there is another scene when the character is finally getting it – his faith grows, he understands the relationships of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit but he has to go deeper. Taken on a walk he is left at the foot of a staircase leading into the unknown of beauty – hesitantly, he moves forward knowing it is a test he must conquer. He comes upon a dead end, a cold, stone wall of sorts. With a faith he musters from within he places his hand upon the stone wall and he moves through the darkness of time to meet Wisdom and Understanding. Here he has to grow to understand why he can no longer hold onto his anger, why he still hurts, why he still feels the pain of loss and has to come to this place knowing it is time to release his burden. Wisdom shares that he is not to judge, he learns that no one has the right to judge another, it is only through love that one can move forward. We may not understand the whys instead we learn to understand the call of righteousness.
Yikes, as I saw him go through the darkness I was reminded of my own ‘black walls’ and I could go no further. I had been a Christian for a few years by this time in my own life yet I had not dealt with the ‘Whys’ in my faith and growth. This emotional faith being held back by the vision of a ‘Black Door’ led my husband and I to see our Pastor to ask if some counselling would help, but Praise God for his wisdom and understanding, he directed me to a Christian professional for guidance and direction. I was able to gain the wisdom that my own self could not enter into, I was able to free myself of unnecessary bondage and grow deeper in my faith. Wisdom and Understanding came to me when Jesus knew that I was ready to go deeper. I broke through the ‘Black Door’ into the call of righteousness.
The story moves in journeys that may speak to you or may not, yet the symbolism may help you understand the simplicity of one’s Christian Faith. God, at the beginning of this movie, represents a ‘safe’ character, someone known in his former life, a safe person, someone he could talk to, someone with whom he could even sit down and enjoy a cup of tea. Never does one need to fear God.
In order for me to come to a safe place with Jesus and my faith, I needed the knowledge of Truth! Truth had to set me free because lies were my youthful understanding. When I first encountered God, I had visions – for years I would have visions, then scripture verses both before I needed it and before I knew it. When these visions became Truth or the scriptures readings became Truth, I was overjoyed. Since I did not know the Bible, I knew this new revelation was not my imagination. I didn’t even know if Jeremiah was in the Bible, and when I would say to my husband – ‘well, you are not going to believe what Jesus just said’, he would encourage me and together we would read, discern, pray and glorify what Jesus was doing in my life. He was bringing beauty out of ashes, he was transforming my days from sadness to Joy – today, I accept a new Christian name, Sharon Joy!
This movie was moving along smoothly when the character image of God changed to a Mighty Warrior, the God of Power and Might, the God that one needs in the depth of battle in healing self. The God we need on our side when the power to forgive needs to come from oneself. Many times this is the hardest step in the Christian walk because we see ourselves as ‘victims’ for so long that we miss the cross of ‘Victory’.
The character in ‘The Shack’ walks with God to the place of pain in his daughters last precious moments and God asks him to forgive the perpetrator. Do you know the time or place of your most intimate pain, when you got lost in life or when God asked you, ‘who is your Joy Stealer, the one keeping you from being before my altar?’ I did, I knew immediately when that question was asked of me and I needed to forgive them, I was not a victim, I was a Victor because of Jesus and with Jesus I can do all things, I can and will be healed, I will be free of all this inner turmoil, pain, insecurity – I couldn’t wait!
Our character, like most of us, needed the guiding hand of God to stay on the narrow path, to stay focused on the job at hand, to see the Light of Christ and not to divert, to be able to go to the deepest level of the soul, the pain, the fear………and then Rejoice. It may take one repentance, it may take several, but with God as the Warrior of Almighty Heaven, there is nothing that hinders that call. Victory raised its standard – he forgave the perpetrator. I forgave and I rejoiced in my Victory standard. Jesus was at my side, he spoke tenderly to me when I did not get the response I expected affirming that I was to do what He asked and He would look after His child. Then, I forgave myself in front of His altar at church one Sunday and, well, let’s just say – it was worth every joy, Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.
He walks with me and talks with me, and tells me I am His own!
Our character returned home in an unusual way, but home he went. We see the transformation of love and healing poured out where once confusion and fear lived. The Victory standard was waving freely.
‘The Shack’ opened the doors of healing. Heaven is for real, the darkness of one’s past can be conquered, forgiving self from victim to Victor, these are the lesson’s I could see in this movie that happened in my life. I pray that your journey brings you the healing that you seek. If you have any questions, please let’s chat.
‘My Shack’ is this beautiful cabin in the woods surrounded by such beauty it makes me cry and I can go there whenever my Jesus and I need that cup of tea, be it in relationship, fellowship or just loving one another.
Blessings to you on your journey, I pray that this is an encouragement to you today.
Marilyn Rough March 2017
Picture: Thomas Kinkade, Stillwater Cottage