Have you ever read a book that affected you to the core of your being? I am an avid reader, and always have been. My earliest memories are of sitting on my grandfather’s lap in England and having him read to me. When I went to school, at the age of 4 years, I could already read, thanks to his tutelage, and I’ve never looked back. In fact, not long after starting school, I was put to task in helping my fellow classmates with their reading. Throughout my schooling, I was always well ahead of my classmates with my reading ability. I’ve lost count of how many books I have read in my life, but its in the thousands. I really enjoy horror and sci-fi, and my favourite authors would be Stephen King and the late Ray Bradbury, but I’ve read books by many other authors, including the full Hobbit & Lord of the Rings series by Tolkien, and Watership Down by Richard Adams, that remains among my all time favourites. In fact if you’ve never read Watership Down, I highly recommend it.
But I can honestly say that I was really moved when I read the book The Shack by William P. Young while I was in jail, and again when I reread it the second time around shortly after returning home. A fellow inmate told me about it when I was in jail and I was fortunate enough to find a copy in the jail library. I was told at first that it was a true story, and while that would be a really great thing, it is not, it is a work of fiction, albeit an incredible one. Throughout the book I was moved to tears on numerous occasions as the story unfolded.
The story revolves around Mack, a father who loses a daughter in a very tragic incident, that is talked about but never really gone into in great detail, thankfully, but suffice to say its very sad. The loss of his daughter puts Mack into a deep funk, called the Great Sadness, and he distances himself from God. God never wants us to be far from Him, and He wants His relationship with Mack to return.
One day a strange letter arrives in the mailbox, during a snow storm, when no self-respecting mailman would be out, addressed only to Mack, telling him that he would like to meet at The Shack, and signed by Papa. Since he has no relationship with his real father, he really doesn’t know who sent the letter, but suspects it may be the person responsible for his daughter’s death.
Mack eventually goes to the shack in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of winter and is met by an incredible site, the abandoned shack is now a beautiful cottage and surrounded by lush greenery. Inside he meets three “people”, a middle-aged African American woman known as Papa, a younger middle eastern man who is a carpenter, and an Asian woman known as Sarayu. He eventually realizes that these three people represent the three forms of the Trinity, in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
As his time with them unfolds, he comes to various conclusions about his life and how he has let the Great Sadness take over his life. Eventually he is given a vision of his missing daughter and realizes that she is in a better place and waiting for him.
The books has sold millions of copies around the world, but its acceptance has been varied. Some churches have gone so far as to call the author a heretic for his portrayal of God as a black female, but we have to remember it is a work of fiction! That said, however, if you ask for my opinion, and you have by reading this, I believe that it is important to reach people in any manner than we can. If we introduce the concept of God to someone and it causes them to research and find our more, then we’ve fulfilled God’s Great Commission from Matthew 28:19-20. That is what we’re tasked to do and I believe William P. Young has accomplished that with his book.
I do also believe that people are entitled to their own opinions, and therefore aside from my recommendation of the book as a tool to bring people to Jesus, I just highly recommend the book as a really great read!
I’m now going to make a special appeal. If you or a family member suffers from mental health issues and you’d like to share your story (anonymously), please use the form below. All information will be kept confidential and will not be shared with anyone. My goal is to set up a resource for people who are reaching out for help. You can be part of the solution and maybe save a life.