Chapter 2: The Gathering Dark
P24: Mack does not mention the note to Nan. Why?
P25: The great Sadness had draped itself around Mack’s shoulders like some invisible, but almost tangible heavy quilt.
Has there been a time of sadness in your life that has burdened you? How did/ how do you cope with this?
Mack dreams of being stuck in the mud and unable to scream, as the dark shadow follows Missy. Why did this recurring dream make him feel both guilty and nauseated?
P26: Why do you think they called the cat “Judas?”
P27: Missy wants to hear the story of the Multnomah princess again. What makes this kind of sacrificial story so appealing to us?
P28: After praying and giving herself to the Great Spirit, she fulfilled the prophecy by jumping without hesitation to her death on the rocks below.
How does this Multnomah story compare to that of Jepthah’s daughter?
Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites. And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”
Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD gave them into his hands. He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon.
When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of tambourines! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter. When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Oh! My daughter! You have made me miserable and wretched, because I have made a vow to the LORD that I cannot break.”
“My father,” she replied, “you have given your word to the LORD. Do to me just as you promised, now that the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. But grant me this one request,” she said. “Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.”
“You may go,” he said. And he let her go for two months. She and the girls went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. After the two months, she returned to her father and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin.
From this comes the Israelite custom that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.
What does this story tell us about God? How does He compare to the Great Spirit?
P29: It had all the elements of a true redemption story, not unlike the story of Jesus that she knew so well.
How does Christ’s life and death become a redemption story? Redemption from what?
Mack’s heart was suddenly penetrated by unexpected joy…he was a rich man, he thought to himself, in all the ways that mattered.
In what ways does being rich matter to us?
P30: Of all the places he sensed the presence of God, out here surrounded by nature and under the stars was one of the most tangible.
Why does the starry sky bring us closer to God? How often to we stop to look at the stars at night? Why/why not?
Compare Mack’s feeling to the imagery of Psalm 8.
P31: Missy asks: “So is Jesus dying a legend?” – How would we answer such a question if it came from a friend or an adult?
Missy asks: “Is the Great Spirit another name for God?” – are all the names for God in the world just other names for God? Why/why not?
Missy asks “Then how come God is so mean?” What does she mean by this question? How have we come across the same type of question? What is our answer?
Mack tells Missy: Jesus chose to die because he and his daddy love you and me and everyone in the world. He saved us from our sickness, just like the princess. What is our sickness? How does Mack’s answer compare to John 3:16-18?
John 3:16-19 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
When did Jesus decide to die for us? What did He hope His death would accomplish?
P32: Missy asks “Will God ever ask me to jump off a cliff?” – What makes her ask this question? Does God ask people to do this for Him? If so, when? If not, why not?
Chapter 3: The Tipping Point
P36: “This is one of those rare and precious moments,” thought Mack, “that catches you by surprise and almost takes your breath away.”
Have you ever experienced similar breath taking moments? When and where?
Psalm 16:5-6 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.
P37: Mack explains to Sarah that Nan works as a nurse with cancer patients. As he says, “She helps people think through their relationship with God in the face of their own death.”
Why is this important? Is it just for cancer patients?
2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.
4 The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
5 The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.
6 In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.
P38: Mack confesses that Nan’s name for God, ‘Papa,’ is something that seems too familiar and uncomfortable for him.
Are there forms of addressing God in church that make us feel the same way?
P39: As he sat mesmerized by the fire and wrapped in its warmth, he prayed, mostly prayers of thanksgiving. He had been given so much. Blessed was probably the right word. He was content, at rest, and full of peace.
Are there times when we have felt the same? What makes us thankful to God in the midst of our blessings?
P40: Emil thinks the canoe accident is his fault because it is his canoe.
How does Mack release him from feeling guilty? Where can we apply this in our own lives?