Book Study: The Shack (04)


Chapter 5: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner


P67      Perhaps there is a suprarationality: reason beyond the normal definitions of fact or data-based logic; something that only makes sense if you can see a bigger picture of reality. Maybe that is where faith fits in.


Where does faith fit in these days? Have fact and data based logic overtaken our need for faith?


P68      Besides, acknowledging the note would mean admitting that he had kept secrets from her; secrets he still justified in his own mind. Sometimes honesty can be incredibly messy.


Why does Mack not tell Nan of his plans? How can honesty get messy sometimes?


Bible passage: Genesis 12:10-20  Abraham conceals the identity of Sarah from Pharaoh.


P69      He reasoned that he wouldn’t need much if God had sent the invitation, but just in case, he loaded up a cooler with much more than enough….added a sleeping bag, some matches, and a number of survival items.


What does this tell us about Mack’s faith in the note? Have we experienced anything similar about our confidence in God?


Bible Passage: Matthew 14:15-21 loaves and fishes


P70      Mack to Willie  maybe I’m just losing it. I know it sounds crazy, but somehow I feel strangely drawn to find out for sure. I gotta go, Willie, or it’ll drive me nuts forever.


What is compelling Mack to make this journey?


P71      Willie:               But God doesn’t do stuff like that. At least I’ve never heard of him sending someone a note. Not that he couldn’t, but, you know what I mean. And why would he want you to return to the shack anyway? I can’t think of a worse place….


Mack:  I guess part of me would like to believe that God would care enough about me to send a note.


How does God communicate with us today? Would a note be so out of place?


Daniel 5:5-6    Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way.



Maybe what happened to Missy is God’s judgment for what I did to my own dad. I just don’t know.


Why does Mack feel this way? Is it a common experience? Why/ why not?


Exodus 21:15 “Anyone who attacks his father or his mother must be put to death.



P72      “I didn’t lie to her, “ Mack objected.

“Well excuse me for splitting hairs,” Willie snapped back. “Okay, you didn’t lie to her because you didn’t tell her the whole truth.”


Is holding back the truth lying?


P73      Willie:               God, of course. What do you think he’ll look like, if he even bothers to show up…


Mack:              I don’t know. Maybe he’s a really bright light, or a burning bush. I’ve always sort of pictured him as a really big grandpa with a long white flowing beard, sort of like Gandalf in Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings


How do you picture God? Where does that image come from?


Bible Passage: Exodus 24:9-18


P74      …he sailed by Multnomah Falls without looking. He had pushed away any thoughts of the place since Missy’s disappearance, sequestering his emotions securely in the padlocked basement of his own heart.


Why does Mack do this? How does it help him cope with Missy’s murder?


He knew he was driving straight into the center of his pain, the vortex of The Great Sadness that had so diminished his sense of being alive. Flashes of visual memory and stabbing instants of blistering fury now came in waves, attended by the taste of bile and blood in his mouth.


What is happening to Mack’s emotions? Why are they surfacing this way?


P77      Determined he was done with being afraid, he continued down the path, trying to look more confident that he felt. He hoped he hadn’t come all this way for nothing. If God was really meeting him here, he was more than ready to get a few things of his chest, respectfully, of course.


What things would Mack want to talk to God about? Why would he be respectable about it?


The shack itself looked dead and empty, but as he stared it seemed for a moment to transform into an evil face, twisted in some demonic grimace, looking straight back at him and daring him to approach.


What is Mack seeing in the shack? How do we confront evil?


P78      Turning his eyes heavenward, he began screaming anguished questions. “Why? Why did you let this happen? Why did you bring me here? Of all the places to meet you – why here? Wasn’t it enough to kill my baby? Do you have to toy with me too?”


“God, you couldn’t even let us find her and bury her properly. Was that just too much to ask?”


Why is Mack so enraged? Who does he believe God to be? How do our own frustrations and anger shape our communications with God? Why do we expect God to look after us?


Bible Passage: Job 19

“Well, I’m here God, and you? You’re nowhere to be found!! You’ve never been around when I needed you – not when I was a little boy, not when I lost Missy. Not now! Some ‘Papa’ you are!” He spat out the words.


When do people feel really disappointed with God? Why? How can other believers help them through those times?


P79      Oh to stop caring, to stop feeling the pain, to never feel anything again. Suicide? At the moment that option was almost attractive. “It would be so easy,” he thought. “No more tears, no more pain…


Killing himself would be one way to strike back at God, if God even existed.


Why does Mack consider suicide? Is it the answer to his problems? Why does he want to strike back at God in this way? What stops him?


1 Kings 19:3-5 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.


P80      “I’m done, God,” he whispered. “I can’t do this anymore. I’m tired of trying to find you in all of this.”…if God wanted him, God would have to come and find him.


Why did Mack give up trying to find God? Is this defiance, exhaustion, or frustration?


P82      He now faced another dilemma. What should you do when you come to the door of a house…where God might be? Should you knock? Presumably God knew that Mack was there…And how should he address him?…Father…Almighty One…Mr. God?


How should we address God? What will we say when we meet God at last?


…just as he raised his fist to do so, the door flew open, and he was looking directly into the face of a large beaming African-American woman.


How does this image of God affect you? Why does William Young do this?


P83  AfAm woman:      I have been really looking forward to seeing you face to face. It is so wonderful to have you here with us.


Suddenly, he was overwhelmed by the scent emanating from her, and it shook him. It was the smell of flowers with overtones of gardenia and jasmine, unmistakably his mother’s perfume that he kept hidden away in his little tin box.


What do we expect God to look like? Had we ever considered what God would smell like?


AfAM woman: …go ahead and let it out. It does a soul good to let the waters run once in a while – the healing waters. (referring to tears)


How do tears heal us? Why don’t men like to cry?


P84      the large black woman gathered his coat and he handed her the gun, which she took from him with two fingers as if it was contaminated.


Is this telling us something about God or the author?


Asian woman: …we all have things we value enough to collect, don’t we?…I collect tears.

He appeared Middle Eastern and was dressed like a laborer, complete with tool belt and gloves.


How do these depictions of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit affect you? Are you delighted, intrigued or offended?


P85      Mack: Are there more of you?  Woman: We is all you get, and believe me, we’re more than enough.”


But he knew all this as more an impression of her than from actually seeing her, as she seemed to phase in and out of vision.


Mack suddenly felt lighter than air, almost as if he were no longer touching the ground. She was hugging him without hugging him, or really without even touching him.


How does the Holy Spirit affect us? How would we describe our encounters with the Holy Spirit?


Acts 2:1-4

2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.


P86      woman: I am the housekeeper and cook. You may call me Elouisa.


Jesse:   I try to keep things fixed up around here…I am a Hebrew to be exact, from the house of Judah.


P87      I am Sarayu…Keeper of the gardens, among other things.


Mack:  Was one of these people God?…Since there were three of them, maybe this was a trinity sort of thing. But two women and a man and none of them white? Then again, why had he naturally assumed that God would be white?


Which one of you is God?….. “I am,” said all three in unison.


How do the names relate to their divine owners? What do you think about this?

About Stushie

I'm originally from Scotland and have been a Presbyterian pastor for over thirty years. I live in Knoxville, TN. I enjoy art as a means of therapy, but also as a creative way to strengthen my spiritual connection to God.
This entry was posted in apologetics, Bible, Bible messages, Bible readings, book reviews, books, Christ, Christ's Kingdom, Christian apologetics, Christian blogs, Christianity, Church conflict, Creator, defending the faith, depression, encouragement, evil, faith, faith in the Church, God, Gospel, Gospel message, grief, Guidance, healing, heresy, heresy in the Church, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Kingdom of God, loneliness, pain, prayers, Presbyterian, Presbyterian beliefs, Psychology, Religion, religious beliefs, religious issues, sacrifice, spirituality, the problem of evil, the problem of pain, Theology, Trinity and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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