Book Study: The Shack 12

Chapter 14: Verbs and Other Freedoms


P194    Mack even sang a few songs, a couple of old hymns and a couple of old folk songs. Singing was also something he had not done in a long time.


Q:        What is the purpose of singing? Why has God given us the gift of music?


Psalm 98:1-6


1 Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.

2 The LORD has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations.

3 He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.


4 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music;

5 make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing,

6 with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn–shout for joy before the LORD, the King.


P195    Sarayu – “For you to know or not, “she explained, “has nothing at all to do with whether I am actually here or not. I am always with you; sometimes I want you to be more aware in a special way – more intentional.


…you can always talk to me and I will always be with you, whether you sense my presence or not.


Q:        How does the Holy Spirit make itself intentionally more known to us in our lives? How does the Spirit’s presence reassure and comfort us?


John 3:5-8       5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit . 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit  gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 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 .”


P 196   Sarayu laughed – of course you will make mistakes; everybody makes mistakes, but you will begin to better recognize my voice as we continue to grow our relationship.


I don’t want to make mistakes – Mack grunted


Sarayu – mistakes are a part of life, and Papa works his purpose in them, too.


Sarayu – Emotions are the colors of the soul; they are spectacular and incredible. When you don’t feel, the world becomes dull and colorless. Just think how The Great Sadness reduced the range of color in your life down to monotones and flat grays and blacks.


Q:        Why are mistakes an important part of life? How does God use them to work out His purposes?


Ephesians 1:11-12      11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.


P197    Sarayu – So check your perceptions and beyond that check the truthfulness of your paradigms – what you believe. Just because you believe something firmly doesn’t make it true. Be willing to reexamine what you believe. The more you live in truth, the more your emotions will help you see clearly. But even then, you don’t want to trust them more than me.


Q:        Why should we reexamine our beliefs? Why should we not trust them more than the Holy Spirit? Is this the author’s belief or is this rooted in scripture?


John 3:16-18


16 “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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 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.


P197/198         Sarayu – The Bible doesn’t teach you to follow rules. It is a picture of Jesus. Whole words may tell you what God is like and even what he may want from you, you cannot do any of it on your own. Life and living is in him and in no other. My goodness, you didn’t think you could live the righteousness of God on your own, did you?


P198    Sarayu – it is true that relationships are a whole lot messier than rules, but rules will never give you answers to the deep questions of the heart and they will never love you.


Q:        Does or doesn’t the Bible teach us to follow rules? Is it only a picture of Jesus? What happens to our relationships when we break the rules?


Galatians 3:10-14


10 All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law .”  11 Clearly no one is justified before God by the law , because, “The righteous will live by faith.”  12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.”  13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”  14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.


Mack asks Sarayu if he will ever see her again


Of course. You might see me in a piece of art, or music, or silence, or through people, or in Creation, or in your joy and sorrow. My ability to communicate is limitless, living, and transforming, and it will always be tuned to Papa’s goodness and love.


Mack asks the Trinity why they love him, when he has nothing to offer in return


Jesus – it should be very freeing to know that you can offer us nothing, at least not anything that can add or take away from who we are…That should alleviate any pressure to perform.


Q: How do we recognize the Holy Spirit’s creativity in our lives? Why does the Holy Spirit communicate to us through different mediums?

Why do we try to repay God with our good works?


John 14:25-27


25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit , whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.


P201    Papa – Keep in mind Mackenzie, that I am not a human being, not in my very nature, despite how we have chosen to be with you this weekend. I am truly human in Jesus, but I am a totally separate other in my nature.


Q:        How is God made fully human in Jesus? Why would God do this?


John 17:20-23


20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.


P202    Sarayu talking about the purpose of the Ten Commandments      We wanted you to give up trying to be righteous on your own. It was a mirror to reveal just how filthy your face gets when you live independently.


But how can you clean your face with the same mirror that shows you how dirty you are? There is no mercy or grace in rules, not even for one mistake. That’s why Jesus fulfilled all of it for you – so that it no longer has jurisdiction over you. And the Law that once contained impossible demands – Thou Shall Not – actually becomes a promise we fulfill in you.


Q:        Why do the Ten Commandments make impossible demands? How did Jesus fulfill them? What does that fulfillment mean for us?


Ephesians 2:14-16


14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.


P203    Sarayu – But bear in mind that if you live your life alone and independently, the promise is empty. Jesus laid the demand of the law to rest; it no longer has any power to accuse or command. Jesus is both the promise and its fulfillment.


…those who are afraid of freedom are those who cannot trust us to live in them. Trying to keep the law is actually a declaration of independence, a way of keeping control.


It grants you the power to judge others and feel superior to them. You believe you are living to a higher standard than those you judge. Rules cannot bring freedom; they only have the power to accuse.


Q:        Why does living our life independently of God make Christ’s promises empty for us? How do we use rules to keep us independent of God? If rules cannot bring freedom, why do we use laws to maintain our liberty?


Galatians 3:19-22


19 What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one.


21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22 But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.


P204    Sarayu – Nouns exist because there is a created universe and physical reality, but if the universe is only a mass of nouns, it is dead. Unless ‘I am,’ there are no verbs, and verbs are what make the universe alive.


Q:        What do you think about the above statement?


John 1:1-5

1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.


3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.


John 1:14        The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.


P205    Sarayu – My words are live and dynamic – full of life and possibility; yours are dead, full of law and fear of judgment. That is why you won’t find the word responsibility in the Scriptures.


Sarayu – Religion must use law to empower itself and control the people who they need in order to survive.

Q:        Why are God’s words so dynamic and full of life? Why do we use rules to stifle this?


Romans 7:7-10


7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law . For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”  8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.


P206    Sarayu – Responsibilities and expectations are the basis of guilt and shame and judgment, and they provide the essential framework that promotes performance as the basis for identity and value. You know well what it is like not to live up to someone’s expectations.


P207    Papa – You see Mackenzie, I don’t just want a piece of you and a piece of your life. Even if you were able, which you are not, to give me the biggest piece, that is not what I want. I want all of you and all of every part of you and your day.


Jesus – I don’t want to be first among a list of values; I want to be at the center of everything. When I live in you, then together we can live through everything that happens to you. Rather than a pyramid, I want to be the center of a mobile where everything in your life – your friends, family, occupation, thoughts, activities – is connected to me but moves with the wind, in and out and back and forth, in an incredible dance of being.


Q:        What do you think about God wanting all of our life, and not just a part of it? How can we put this demand into practice? How does the mobile illustration help you to understand Christ’s desire for a real, living relationship with us?


P208    Sarayu – Actually, you see very little even though for a human you see fairly well. But just for tonight, I would love you to see a bit of what we see.


Q:        How do you think God sees the world – individually or collectively? How can we strive to see the world through God’s eyes?


1 Corinthians 2:6-10


6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written:


“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”-


10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.


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.
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