Archive for the ‘The Shack’ Tag

Drop the binoculars

??????????????????????????????I had a rough few moments a few days ago. Instinctively, I knew that the comfort I needed could come only from God – but my prayer went something like, I know the comfort I need can only come from you, God…but…(whispered) I’m not completely sure that you exist.

That admission was not the result of what was going on – but was rather my doubt, always present at some level or another, finding a voice. There are times when I am absolutely certain that a loving God exists – that there is NO WAY any of what I experience in life could exist without him. But there are other times when I fear that it’s all just a great story and that I have been deluding myself. In that moment, I felt alone and lost.

But in an instant it all changed. A peaceful warmth like real arms enveloped me, and I knew that I was NOT alone. If there were words, they were, you’re not alone, dear one. I am here. 

Just like Mackenzie in William Paul Young’s book, The Shack:

“Jesus?” he whispered as his voice choked “I feel so lost”
A hand reached out and squeezed his, and didn’t let go. “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.” 

And just like Mack, since my eyes were opened to his nearness and to my inclusion within the love relationship of the Triune God, if my sad, scared or desperate thoughts have turned to him, I have found that he is already with me, his hand reaching out and squeezing mine. And his words to me are, without fail, gentle, loving, and spoken with all the warmth and intimacy of a best friend, or my own mother. I know that I am known, understood, accepted, and truly, personally, beloved.

I don’t have to fast or pray or behave my way to him – all I have to do is open my too often screwed shut eyes to find that he is there and that he never left.

Comparing Jesus’ life on earth to a bird he was holding, Papa said about Jesus, “Although by nature he is fully God, Jesus is fully human and lives as such. While never losing the innate ability to fly, he chooses moment-by-moment to remain grounded. That is why his name is Immanuel, God with us, or God with you, to be more precise. (Paul Young, The Shack)

I can’t read that passage without tears swimming into my eyes. Somewhere, from deep within, I recognise it as truth. It’s difficult to wrap my mind around how exactly God can be here and everywhere – at once with me personally and with every person personally, while also composing the entire cosmos. But these are terms that I can understand. He didn’t leave or abandon us here on Earth any more than I would abandon my own children. He’s not somewhere else while we wait for him to return. He’s here.

Have you ever looked through binoculars at something inches away from you? The images in the lenses swim and there appears to be no form. It looks like nothing. I believe it’s the same with Jesus. If we pick up our binoculars and search for him in the distance, we miss him. But we don’t need binoculars because he isn’t far off in the distance. He’s near enough to touch. Father, Son and Spirit, near enough to touch – so big and vast that when we look at them, the images swim in our eyes and we think we see nothing. We don’t realise that the entire cosmos rests in the palm of his hand. More than that – that it Is an inseparable part of his heart. Yet he made himself small as well so we could relate and enter into a relationship with them.

…we want you to join us in our circle of fellowship. I don’t want slaves to my will; I want brothers and sisters who will share life with me. (Paul Young, The Shack)

It’s very normal – very human – to doubt. I will again, and I will be comforted and reassured again. Again and again and again. If we’re honest, we all doubt sometimes. But our doubt, while normal, comes from fear.

“So, why do I have so much fear in my life?” (Mackenzie asked.)
“Because you don’t believe. You don’t know that we love you. The person who lives by his fears will not find freedom in my love. I am not talking about rational fears regarding legitimate dangers, but imagined fears, and especially the projection of those into the future. To the degree that those fears have a place in your life, you neither believe that I am good nor know deep in your heart that I love you. You sing about it, you talk about it, but you don’t know it.”  (Paul Young, The Shack)

When my eyes squeeze shut and, with the blackness, fear rushes in, it helps me to see it for what it is. Why do I doubt? Because I am afraid to be disappointed. Afraid that life is exactly what it appears to be – tragic, random, unjust – and death what it appears to be – final, irrevocable. Honestly I don’t, consciously at least, fear that God won’t be all that I hope he is. I am more likely to believe that there is no God than to believe in the stern, frowning, distant, conditional God I used to.

When I recognise my doubt as fear. it’s easier to arrest it. Because I recognise that a life lived in fear is wasted. And a lesson I have learned repeatedly is that when I have worried about something, I’ve almost always wondered why afterwards. I have seen that I need not have worried – that I wasted moments worrying.

I think it is unrealistic to go around perpetually certain. I am a bit put off by those who claim never to have even a moment of doubt and an answer to every question. Who knows though – perhaps they are the fortunate ones! I am who I am though, and I remain calmly confident, and yes, sometimes doubtful. In those moments, all I have to do is open my eyes – really open my eyes – and see that everything around me and inside me points to him. Everything is a miracle. The fact that I am conscious at all is a miracle. The three children who grew in my womb are complete miracles. A tree is a miracle. The earth is a miracle. There is no end to miracles and yet I take them for granted every day.

And so the cure for my doubt is gratitude. To open my eyes – drop the binoculars – look around me and within – and to marvel, with him, at what I see.

~ Jeannine Buntrock

The Shack Bible Project

If you aren’t yet aware of John Stonecypher’s new blog, The Shack Bible Project, you might want to click over to it and check it out. John mentioned it in passing in his post here on Monday but I wanted to be sure that everyone knew about it. We’ve also added a permanent link to it in our blogroll.

Thankfully, John will still be posting here on a regular basis and contributing to The Adopted Life. At The Shack Bible Project he will focus on continuing his work of paraphrasing the Scriptures from a Trinitarian, Christ-centered perspective. The paraphrases John has already done, that we’ve posted here and at The Adopted Life, have been a great blessing to many people so I’m sure his new blog will continue that ministry and reach even more people with the good news of humanity’s adoption into the life of the Trinity.

~ Jonathan Stepp


Here’s a Trinitarian paraphrase of Matthew 5:3-16

(3) The Triune Life has been freely given to all.  If you are spiritually impoverished, shout ‘WOOHOO!’ for this gift does not depend on your religious skills.

(4) If you are sad, shout ‘WOOHOO!’ for you will be comforted.

(5) If you are unassertive, shout ‘WOOHOO!’ for your inheritance does not depend on your ability to assert your right to it.

(6) If you are starved for the world to be put right, shout ‘WOOHOO!’ because you will get what you want.

(7) If you are kind to people who don’t deserve it, shout ‘WOOHOO!’ because the Trinity is like that too.

(8) If you long for an undistorted vision of Papa, shout ‘WOOHOO!’ because you will receive the desire of your heart.

(9) If you constantly find yourself in between warring parties, shout ‘WOOHOO!’ because you are behaving just like your Papa.

(10) If your fight for social justice gets you in trouble, shout ‘WOOHOO!’ because you are already experiencing the Triune Life that has been given to you.

(11) If people spread lies about you and insult you because of me, shout ‘WOOHOO!’ (12) because you are experiencing the life of Jesus in the world; you are in good company.

(13) Like a pinch of salt in a big pot of soup, you ‘little people’ have a much greater effect on the world than you’d think.  The trick is to stay spicy; it’s hard to be different from everybody else, but that’s the whole point.  The world already has plenty of landscaping pebbles; what it needs now is salt, really SALTY salt.

(14) Through you, light is coming into the world.  Like a city on a hill, you will be seen—just by you being you.  (15) And nobody puts a candle under a bowl; they put it on a  stand, where its light can bless everyone. (16) So don’t hide who you are. When people see the love inside you, they will see Papa and love Him.

~ John Stonecypher

Yahweh is not Codependent

Something I love about THE SHACK:  Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu have good boundaries with each other.

In times past, my best attempts at a Trinitarian vision always involved some kind of enmeshment between persons.  In my mind, I couldn’t imagine how God could be truly ONE unless the 3 were always together, always doing the same thing, always thinking the same thing.  In this vision, I saw 3 identical bodies with identical faces and simultaneous blinking.  The 3 did not have conversations, but instead sort of chanted the Single Triune Mind in unison.

But THE SHACK opened up some fresh space for my imagination.

Jesus was a Middle Eastern man (makes sense); Papa was a feisty middle-aged black woman; and Sarayu was a flighty, eccentric Asian woman.  Not only did they LOOK different, they SPOKE and ACTED different; they didn’t even stay in the same room most of the time.   They each had their own projects that they were working on – Papa cooking in the kitchen, Jesus tinkering in his workshop, Sarayu puttering around her garden.

They are unified in love and mutual submission, but never enmeshed in codependence.

This changes so much about my approach to life and relationships.  I’d always believed that love meant not having boundaries.  That love meant always being together, always doing the same thing, always thinking the same thing.  Saying YES to all requests.  Never disagreeing.  Always feeling the same emotions.

My vision of love was all wrong.

I’m putting a lot of effort right now into learning more healthy and authentic ways of relating to people.  And THE SHACK‘s theological vision is helping.

~ John Stonecypher

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