Book Study: The Shack 06

Chapter 7: God on the Dock


P105    …but Jesus went straight to Papa and, kneeling at her feet, began to wipe off the front of her clothes. He worked down to her feet and gently lifted one foot at a time, which he directed into the basin where he cleaned and massaged it.


John 13:3-5     Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.


Mack:  Obviously, what was truly important here was the love they had for one another and the fullness it brought them. He shook his head. How different this was from the way he treated the ones he loved!


Q:        How does love bring fullness to our lives? Why is it so elusive at times?


1 John 4:7       Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.


P106:   Sarayu: You can’t share with one and not share with us all.       


We have limited ourselves out of respect for you…as we are listening to you, it is as if this is the first time we have known about them (Mack’s children), and we take great delight in seeing them through your eyes.


P107    Mack had to snicker at the thought of God having devotions.


Mack sat transfixed as he watched Jesus kiss his father’s hands and then look deep into his father’s eyes and finally say, “Papa, I loved watching you today, as you made yourself fully available to take Mack’s pain into yourself, and then give him space to choose his own timing.


What was he witnessing? Something simple, warm, intimate, genuine; this was holy.


Q:        How do we offer our devotion to God.  When do we make time for devotions? What holy moments have we experienced.


Psalm 29:2      Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness .


P108    Sarayu began humming…To him (Mack) it sounded Gaelic, and he could almost hear breath-pipes in accompaniment…if he could just keep listening to her, he would be thrilled to do dishes the rest of his life.


P109:   (Jesus looking at the stars).       “I created it as the Word, before the Word became flesh. So even though I created this, I see it now as a human. And I must say, it is impressive!”


Q:        Does this passage make Christ more human to us? Is it more important to make a human connection with Christ, rather than a divine one?


Genesis 1:16-18         God made two great lights–the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.


P110:   (Mack to Jesus)            It’s like I’ve always known you. But Papa isn’t at all what I expected from God, and Sarayu, she’s way out there.


Jesus :  She is Creativity; she is Action; she is the breathing of Life; she is much more. She is my Spirit.


Sarayu means Wind – a common wind…


John 3:8          The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”


Q:        What do you think about this description of the Holy Spirit? Is it helpful to your understanding?


P111:   Elousia: El is my name as creator, but ousia is ‘being’ or ‘that which is truly real,’ so the name means Creator God who is truly real and the ground of all being.


Q:        How real is God in our lives?


Mack asking about the place for humanity – Jesus answers: Right where you were always intended to be. In the very center of our love and our purpose.


Ephesians 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.


Q:        How do we know that we are at the center of God’s love and purpose? What hinders us from accepting this?


1 John 3:1       How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God ! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.


Jesus laughed. “I am Jewish, you know. My grandfather on my mother’s side had a big nose; in fact, most of the men on my mom’s side had big noses.”


P112:   Jesus:   God, who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things – ultimately emerging as the real – and any appearances that mask that reality will fade away.


P113    Jesus (again looking at the stars) I’ll never get tired of looking at this. The wonder of it all – the wastefulness of creation, as one of our brothers has called it.


Q:        Is creation wasted? On whom?


P114    Mack says he feels lost. Jesus responds:            I know Mack. But it’s not true. I am with you and I’m not lost. I’m sorry it feels that way, but hear me clearly. You are not lost.


Q:        Why is it important to know Christ is with us when we fell lost? What events have we experienced to know that this is true? Have there been moments when we have not felt this way?


John 18:8-9     “I told you that I am he,” Jesus answered. “If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.” 


Chapter 8: A Breakfast of Champions


P115    He hadn’t had a flying dream in years, not since The Great Sadness had descended, but tonight Mack flew high into the starlit night, the air clear and cool but not uncomfortable.


P116    As odd as it sounds, Mack had learned inside his dreams to fly like this; to lift off the ground supported by nothing – no wings, no aircraft of any sort, just himself.


Q:        Have you had any flying dreams? What did it feel like to you?


The dream had provoked The Great Sadness and before he could even get out of bed, he was once again fighting his way through the despair that had devoured too many of his days.


Q:        Have you ever felt this kind of despair? How did you cope with and overcome it?


Psalm 42:5a    Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?


P118:   Papa – Dreams are sometimes important, you know. They can be a way of openin’ up the window and lettin’ the bad air out.


Mackenzie, I have no favorites; I am just especially fond of him.


Deuteronomy 10:17   For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.


Q:        Does God have favorites? Why/ why not?


P119:   Papa talking about humanity – I don’t like a lot of choices they make, but that anger – especially for me – is an expression of love all the same. I love the ones I am angry with just as much as those I’m not.


Papa    I’m not asking you to believe anything, but I will tell you that you’re going to find this day a lot easier if you simply accept what is, instead of trying to fit it into your preconceived notions.


P120    Papa:    I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.


Q:        What do you think about the above statement? Is it true to scripture or just the author’s wishful thinking? Should sin be punished by God? Should we be excused for our sins?


Ezekiel 5:8      “Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself am against you, Jerusalem, and I will inflict punishment on you in the sight of the nations.

Hosea 9:7       The days of punishment are coming, the days of reckoning are at hand.

Let Israel know this. Because your sins are so many and your hostility so great…


Matthew 25:46           “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”


Hebrews 2:2-3                        For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.


P121    Mack talking about the Trinity   I know that you are one and all, and that there are three of you. But you respond with such graciousness to each other. Isn’t one of you more the boss than the other tow?


Jesus    Does that make sense to you, Abba? Frankly, I haven’t a clue what this man is talking about.


P122    Sarayu              Mackenzie, we have no concept of final authority among us, only unity. We are in a circle of relationship, not a chain of command or ‘great chain of being’ as your ancestors termed it…Hierarchy…is your problem, not ours.


P123    Hierarchy imposes laws and rules and you end up missing the wonder of relationship that we intended for you.


When you chose independence over relationship, you became a danger to each other….Authority…is merely the excuse the strong use to make others conform to what they want.


Q:        What do you think about this section on hierarchy and authority? If this is true of the Trinity, what does this say about Christ’s Church? Would the Church work without hierarchy?


Matthew 20:25-28      Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


Papa:    We carefully respect your choices, so we work within your systems even while we seek to free you from them. Creation has been taken down a very different path than we desired.


P124    Jesus    If you had truly learned to regard each other’s concerns as significant as your own, there would be no need for hierarchy.


Q:        Why are we not significantly interested in other people’s concerns? What causes us to ignore or pass by other people in trouble?


Galatians 5:14            The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”


P125    Mack   …what is the value in a little girl being murdered by some twisted deviant?  There is was gain, the question that lay burning a hole in his soul. “You may not cause those things, but you certainly don’t stop them.


Psalm 94:3      How long will the wicked, O LORD, how long will the wicked be jubilant?

Psalm 44:24    Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression?


Q:        Why is Mack so angry with God at this point? Why doesn’t God stop bad things happening to innocent people? Is it all just down to good and bad choices?


Papa    …your choices are also not stronger than my purposes, and I will use every choice you make for the ultimate good and the most loving outcome.


In their disappointment, they either become softened toward me or they become bolder in their independence.


Q:        Have you found the above statement to be true in your own life? If so, when and where?


Mack was staggered. “Look at the cost – all the pain, all the suffering, everything that is so terrible and evil…And look what it has cost you. Is it worth it?


“Yes!” came the unanimous, joyful response of all three.


P126    Papa    – You see pain and death as ultimate evils and God as the ultimate betrayer, or perhaps, at best, as fundamentally untrustworthy. You dictate the terms and judge my actions and find me guilty.


Q:        Why do we blame God for everything tragic that happens in the world? When do we feel betrayed by God? How does our faith overcome those times?


Sarayu: Mackenzie, you cannot produce trust just like you cannot ‘do’ humility. It either is or is not.


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


Q:        Do we trust God naturally, or is it learned by experience?


I just want you to be with me and discover that our relationship is not about performance or you having to please me.


Q:        What makes us want to please God through what we do?


Mack   I just can’t imagine any final outcome that would justify all this.

Papa    We’re not justifying it. We’re redeeming it.


Q:        What do you feel about these words between Mack and God? What does it mean for God to redeem situations and not justify them?


Luke 1:68       “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.

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 Bible, Bible readings, Bible verses, book reviews, books, Christ, Christ's Kingdom, Christian apologetics, Christian blogs, Christianity, church growth ideas, Creator, encouragement, evil, faith, faith in the Church, free will, God, Gospel, Gospel message, grief, Guidance, healing, heresy, heresy in the Church, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Kingdom of God, prayers, predestination, Progressives, Psychology, Religion, religious beliefs, religious issues, spirituality, spreading the Gospel, the problem of evil, the problem of pain, The Shack, Theology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Book Study: The Shack 06

  1. David says:

    Thanks for posting the study on The Shack. I look forward to your next entry!

  2. Nancy Beggin says:

    Thank you for the studies. Our bible study has been using them for over a year and they provide much dis-cussion. Blessings! nancy beggin

  3. Dennis James says:

    Eternal punishment is a tradition of the Catholic Church and was not even in the original language. Jesus has reconciled the whole world all will be saved. And by the way, check the Greek word aion or aionios and you’ll easily see that people will NOT be eternally punished. The Lake of Fire in Revelation is the end of death for all not the beginning of eternal torment. Only devils and demons of the carnal persussion could come up with such death. Jesus is the End of all things and His LIFE will swallow all death.

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