Book Study: The Shack 05

Chapter 6: A Piece of Pi


P88      God: or if you don’t want to do that, you can do whatever you want.


Q: is this what is meant by free will? What does it mean to you?


P89      Jesus:   She loves surprises, and even thought you might not think it, her timing is always perfect.


Jesus:  Don’t go because you feel obligated. That won’t get you any points around here. Go because it’s what you want to do.


Q:        What causes us to feel obligated to God? When and where do we experience this?


Micah 6:6-8    With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God?

Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?

Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil?

Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.


God:     I’m in the kitchen Mackenzie. Just follow my voice.


P90      Suddenly Mack wanted to ask a thousand questions, or say a thousand things, some of them unspeakable and terrible.


Q:        What do you think are the unspeakable and terrible questions that Mack wants to ask of God? What kind of questions would you like to ask God?


Mack:  So God listens to funk?…I thought you would be listening to…you know, something churchier.


P91:     these kids ain’t saying anything I haven’t heard before; they’re just full of vinegar and fizz. Lots of anger and, I must say, with some good reason too.


Q:        Why does the author suggest this attitude of God toward popular music? Do you agree or disagree? Why?


Mack gasped voluntarily. He wasn’t used to having deep secret surface so quickly and openly. Instantly guilt and anger welled up and he wanted to lash out with a sarcastic remark in response.


P92      Mack:  if you couldn’t take care of Missy, how can I trust you to take care of me?


God:  Mack, I’m so sorry. I know what a gulf this has put between us….That’s why you’re here…I want to heal the wound that has grown inside of you, and between us.


Q:        What causes Mack to fiercely blurt out this question? How does God feel about the issue? Is this the way that God deals with our issues?


Psalm 44:23-26           Awake, O Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.

Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression? We are brought down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground. Rise up and help us; redeem us because of your unfailing love.


P93      God: I’m not trying to make this harder for either of us. But this is a good place to start. I often find that getting head issues out of the way first makes the heart stuff easier to work on later…when you’re ready.


Q:        Why does the head stuff often get in the way of the heart stuff?


God:     Mackenzie, I am neither male nor female, even though both genders are derived from my nature. If I choose to appear to you as a man or a woman, it’s because I love you.


To reveal myself to you as a very large grandfather figure…would simply reinforce your religious stereotypes, and this weekend is not about reinforcing your religious stereotypes.


Q:        What religious stereotypes do we have about God? Where do they come from? What do they accomplish?


P94      Mack…why is there such an emphasis on you being a Father? I mean, it seems to be the way you most reveal yourself.


God:     Let me say for now that we knew once the Creation was broken, true fathering would be much more lacking than mothering.


Q:        Is this an adequate explanation for God being emphasized as Father? Why/why not?


Matthew 23:9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.


God:     Of course you are! I’m not interested in prisoners. You’re free to walk out that door right now and go home to your empty house.


P95      God:     or we could talk about all the limiting influences in your life that actively work against your freedom. Your family genetic heritage, your specific DNA, your metabolic uniqueness….and then there’s advertising, propaganda and paradigms. Inside that confluence of multifaceted inhibitors…what is freedom really?


Q:        What inhibits us from being truly free? Are we aware of them?


God:     Mackenzie, the truth shall set you free and the truth has a name; he’s over in the woodshop right now covered in sawdust. Everything is about him.


Q:        Why does God suggest that Christ is the truth that sets us free? Have we ever experienced this?


John 8:31-32


To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free .”


P96:     Love always leaves a significant mark…We were there together. (Calvary)


Mack:  How can you say that? You abandoned him just like you abandoned me!


God:     Don’t forget, the story didn’t end in his sense of forsakenness. He found his way though it to put himself into my hands. Oh, what a moment that was!


Q:        How do the events at Calvary align themselves with Mack’s pain? Why would God allow so much pain to happen to Him and His Son?


Matthew 27:45-46      From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”-which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 


Luke 23:46     Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.


P97:     God:     You, on the other hand, were created to be loved. So for you to live as if you were unloved is a limitation, not the other way around.


God:     Mack, pain has a way of clipping our wings and keeping us from being able to fly…And if unresolved for very long, you can almost forget that you were ever created to fly in the first place.


Q:        What limitations do pain, loss, and sorrow afflict on our lives? How do they damage and diminish our created capacity to love?


97/98 God:       I am God. I am who I am. And unlike you, my wings can’t be clipped.


P98      God:     the problem is that many folks try to grasp some sense of who I am by taking the best version of themselves, projecting it to the nth degree, factoring in all the goodness they can perceive, which often isn’t much, and then call that God. And while it may seem like a noble effort, the truth is that it falls pitifully short of who I really am.


Q:        Why do we insist in creating God in our own image? Why do all our images fall pitifully short of who God actually is?


P99      Mack:  But what about all the miracles? The healings? Raising people from the dead? Doesn’t that prove that Jesus was God – you know, more than human?


God:     Although he (Jesus) is also fully God, he has never drawn upon his nature as God to do anything.


Q:        What do you think about Jesus not drawing upon His divine nature? Where did His healing powers come from?


Mark 5:25-30 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.


At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”


P100    Mack: So, when he healed the blind?

            God: He did so as a dependent, limited human being trusting in my life and power to be at work within him and through him. Jesus, as a human being, had no power within himself to heal anyone.


God:     remember this, humans are not defined by their limitations, but by the intentions that I have for them…


Q:        What do you think about the above statement? Does it crush or inspire you?


P101    God:     To begin with, that you can’t grasp the wonder of my nature is rather a good thing. Who wants to worship a God who can be fully comprehended?


Q:        What makes God so mysterious to us? How does it make us feel that we cannot fully comprehend God?


God:     All love and relationship is possible for you only because it already exists within Me, within God myself. Love is not the limitation; love is the flying. I am love.


Q:        What do you think about God being the source of our love? How should that help our relationships with our loved ones?


1 John 4:7-12             Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love . This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.


P102:   God:     The God who is – the I am who I am – cannot act apart from love!


            Mack:  Not that he actually believed any of it. If only it were true. His experience told him otherwise.


Q:        Why does Mack doubt God? How do our bad experiences create barriers of doubt between us and God?


John 20:26-28 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas , “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”


28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”



God:     As much as you are able, rest in what trust you have in me, no matter how small, okay?


Q:        Why is it so important to God that we trust Him?


John 14:1        “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”


P103    Mack:  I’m so sorry that you, that Jesus, had to die.


            God: I know you are and I thank you. But you need to know that we aren’t sorry at all. It was worth it.


Jesus:   “And I would have done it even if it were only for you, but it wasn’t!” he said with an inviting grin.


Q:        Why does Mack say he is sorry? What do we feel about Jesus being crucified for us? How do we communicate those feelings to others?


About stushie

I'm originally from Scotland and have been a Presbyterian pastor for over twenty 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.
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3 Responses to Book Study: The Shack 05

  1. Kerry Sarchet says:

    I cannot find the lesson plans for chapter 5 of the “The Shack”. The lesson plans for chapter 6 are in the chapter 5 lesson plan slot.

    • stushie says:

      Kerry, the studies do not correspond to the chapters in the book. They are numbered according to the studies that take place at the church I serve. You’ll find the material for chapter 5 in study 4.

      Thanks for using the material.

  2. Kathy says:

    Where do you get the lesson plans?

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