Why I am writing this blog about THE SHACK

April 22, 2009

Reading THE SHACK and listening to the podcasts by the men who helped make this book possible  has has a powerful postive impact on my life.  I want to inspire others to read the book and join the transformation that is taking place because of THE SHACK.

I have been so encouraged to0 see this amazing grassroots movement where people are so inspired by this book that it has been a New York Times number one best seller since June 2008. I read the book in February 2008 when very few people I talked to knew about it. Now, just about everyone has at least heard about it, and more and more people I know have read it.

I got the book at a time when I was at the darkest place ever in my spirtual journey. I was burned out from working on another amazing grass roots movement supporting Ron Paul for president as a meetup organizer for 7 months. I would work as long as fourteen hours a day promoting the cause of freedom, convinced that my efforts were necessary in order to survive.

When it became clear that Ron Paul was not going to win, and that the people I had thought were kindred spirits were not, and I was deep in debt as well as devoid of hope…I did a google search. It went something like this:  Where are you Jesus? Are you out there? Can you please help me?

At first I got all kinds of atheist sites.  But someh9w I tweaked the question, and I came across a yahoo group which lead me to THE SHACK.

When I read about THE SHACK and heard the podcasts on http://www.thegodjourney.com I knew that I needed to read this book. I had sixteen dollars and very little gas. I called Hastings book store and asked if they had a copy. They only had two copies. I rushed down to the store and secured the book.. I read it, staying up all night until I was done. I cried so much. It was so inspiring. For the first time I understood and believed that God loved me especially. And he loves everyone especially.

Since then I have read THE SHACK two more times because it is so inspiring. If I had surplus money, I would buy copies to give to everyone. But since I am rather short on cash, I am choosing to  spread the word through this blog and through a ning site I am creating so that more people can connect and converse around THE SHACK.

If you haven’t read it, I hope you will–I think you will find it encouraging. To live life as if you were unconditionally loved is a powerful experience. It just might be the only thing that will save our planet. You can learn lots more at the wikipedia site for THE SHACK http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shack

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Related reading

May 26, 2009

This recent article is by Wayne Jacobson who was the person who  read William P. Young’s manuscript and decided to help Paul edit and publish it along with Brad Cummings. Wayne writes so clearly about why it is that many people no longer want to go by the name “Christian”.

http://www.lifestream.org/bodylife.php?blid=57

NPR Interviews William P. Young

May 25, 2009

It just keeps getting better. I love Paul’s heartfelt, loving, warm, and humble answers to questions. You will love it!  http://www.npr.org/templates/player/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=90664444&m=90664392

AbC Interviews William P. Young–more than inspiring

May 25, 2009

AsI start to watch these videos of mainstream media interviewing William Young, I am in awe of how they treat him with such respect and affection. You usually find orthodox  Christians being put down and even made fun of–yet this interviewer treats him with great affection. Check it out here http://www.mefeedia.com/entry/william-p-young-on-the-shack/14304917

MSNBC interviews Paul Young

May 25, 2009

This is so inspiring! http://www.mefeedia.com/entry/video-author-on-the-shack/10602823

THE SHACK travels with me from Arkansas to Washington DC and back

April 29, 2009

When I decided to help a friend drive her RV back from Chesapeake Beach, Maryland, which is about 45 minutes from Washington DC, I felt torn. I had really wanted to do some traveling. But one and a half day on a Greyhound bus, a few days in the Washington DC area, and then a two day journey driving back was not exactly my idea of a relaxing trip.

But I sensed God encouraging me to take a leap of faith. I would get all my expenses paid. I would be able to help a friend who was in rather desperate need. And I would get a brief time to be in different places in the country.

I felt so grateful that I was able at the last minute to get my copy of THE SHACK from an acquaintance who had borrowed it. I had been without THE SHACK for months and I missed reading it. I would read it whenever I got to thinking that I was distant from God. I regret that reading the bible does not help me feel closer to God all the time. When I read THE SHACK, I get the foundational belief that is present throughout the bible–that God loves me especially and he loves you especially and everyone especially. THE SHACK helps me to live as if I am loved, and that makes all the difference. Then when I read the bible, I read the words in that context, and then I am more inspired.

I decided once I had THE SHACK in my hands that I was going to make it my mission to share it with as many people as possible on my trip. That way I would have a purpose to my journey. And since I really like talking to people, it would be a great topic to discuss.

So here is an outline of my sharing THE SHACK. I hope and pray that I will get more time to write about each experience because many of them have a lot of depth and richness.

On the first bus going out of Fayetteville, Arkansas to Springfield, Missouri, a rather over weight man who was coughing a lot and reading what looked like a novel called THE ILLUMINATI sat across me. I realize in retrospect that I was very judgemental of everything about him. When I started organizing all my stuff (I had packed at the very last minute and needed to get my things more organized), I overflowed into the seat in front of him.

“Nice cross,” he commented.  I was surprised that he had a nice, friendly, resonant voice.

“Thanks,” I said. “My daughter made the hemp part–I found the cross on the ground.”

We talked more, and I found out he was a missionary. I told him about THE SHACK and he was very interested. He was reading a novel based on Christian principles, so he could relate. He wrote down the title. I got his email, so I can ask him what he thinks. Maybe he will share THE SHACK with many people since he is a missionary. Amazing. Oh, yeah–remember–Jesus says, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” When am I going to get that?!

Soon after that a tall stately and distinguished black man and his wife (who also looked the same) got on the bus. He was studying what looked to be the bible very intently for a while. After a few hours I got up and walked down to his seat which was pretty close.

I held the book in front of me, showing him the cover. “God told me to share this book with you.” I said. He just said, “no thanks” and basically waved me away. I got the message.

I returned to my seat a little disappointed, but also curious. I thought that God had told me to share the book with him–but one can never be sure. Besides, maybe someone else will share it with him and then he will think, “Wow, God told her to share it with me and now this person is telling me about it. Maybe I better look into it.”

The wonderful thing was that I didn’t feel bad or stupid or humiliated. I just felt good because I did my best to obey what I thought God was telling me to do.

I didn’t share THE SHACK with a 33 year old muslim man from a very small country next to Ethiopia. He didn’t speak very good english, but he attached himself to me for the next 1000 miles or so. Well, he sat by me, and I helped him make the bus changes and he helped me with luggage. I shared an apple with him, and he shared a coke with me. I don’t drink sodas, so I shared the soda with a girl from Florida who seemed to appreciate it. I did share the spirit of THE SHACK. I did my best to express my love to someone who was a different color and ethnicity, and religion.

When I asked him what he thought about Muslims who kill others because they are of a different religion, he got very upset and said that they weren’t following the true Muslim religion. I liked the way we looked at some very beautiful flowers together at one of the stops. He was a very kind, gentle soul.

I also did not share THE SHACK with a farmer from Illinois who was on his way to meet the person who manages the million dollars he had saved up. He didn’t seem to want anything to do with talking about spirituality. I just decided to be the hands and feet of Jesus to him–had a nice chat. He let me use his cell phone, and I helped him get his ticket out of his jacket pocket. He had had a stroke and still had not full use of his arm.

I didn’t talk to too many people on the way out. I was reading a book about the power of of positive praying and I did my best to pray a lot. I did feel very peaceful being on a Greyhound and leaving the driving to very competent bus drivers who, except for the first driver (who actually drove a Jefferson lines bus) were very friendly and helpful. I especially liked the man who added a few extra rules. No profanity, no gum snapping, and no loud talking.

I played my recorder during many of the stops, and people seemed to really like it. Amazing Grace is my best song, and I’M JUST A POOR WAYFARING STRANGER  is my second best.

I wasn’t really clear now that I think about it that I wanted to really share THE SHACK until I got to my destination. My friend’s friend Roseanna, who my friend was staying with, invited us to go to the Celtic Festival. I actually have a lot of Celtic roots–all on my father’s side–so this seemed rather inviting.

My friend and I spent the morning cleaning up Roseanna’s deck which was in great need of help. Then we drove to a very large and beautiful park way out in the country. I was just in time to dance some celtic dances. Roseanna asked us to come to where she was coordinating the visitor’s booth. At first we were going to help with the booth, but then she said we could go and have fun. I was glad because there were dancers with live music right there in the barn were we were, and the audience was being invited to participate.

I enjoyed so thoroughly dancing 3 dances. The fun thing was that I got to dance with an experienced partner who was very accepting. I got to dance as if I was loved–and accepted. That made all the difference. I especially was over joyed during out last dance when two young children participated. The oriental boy was only about five, and everyone watched over him and made sure he did was he was supposed to do. He didn’t have to think–everyone just jumped in and loved on him. Even those of us who didn’t know what we were doing were encouraged to help him. It was quite an intricate dance with lots of changes–but we all laughted and loved each other through it.

The little boy was all smiles and delight. We even did a london bridges type thing where we would hold each others hands in a bridge and everyone went underneath. Wow! This was living loved through and through. No one cared about perfection. No one cared if all the steps were perfect. We just wanted to love and have fun. The experts were not better than the little child. No one frowned because I couldn’t get the moves perfect. I lived loved, and it was a blast!

I decided to go around and visit vendors. I didn’t have much money, but I didn’t know what else to do. After getting a sugar free fruit smoothie (now that was a miracle!), I saw a trailer that said, “authentically British”. I was drawn like a magnet to it. I saw a young man who said, “We are out of fish and chips.” We started up a very pleasant conversation, and a young woman joined us. I felt very inspired to share my story about THE SHACK. The young woman had heard about it. I left both of them with my card on which I wrote THE SHACK  just to remind them.

Next I spoke to a man who worked for a minister who was really busy at the moment. The booth sold signs with celtic names on them. Sure enough, my maiden name Hughes was on one of them. The man told me about the minister who he worked for. He was told by a doctor that if didn’t quit his stressful job at a megachurch that he would die for sure. Now he has a job as a pastor for a 50 member, mostly elderly folks church. I shared THE SHACK with both of them.

Next I spoke to a lovely couple in their fifties who made affordable kilts. did you know that some kilts cost $700? I didn’t. That made their $100 kilts seem cheap. I shared THE SHACK with them after hearing about all their wonderful information about their kilt making. They were very receptive.

Then I asked a thirty something man for the time. He looked very hispanic. I never did ask him if he had celtic blood–it didn’t cross my mind. He was so friendly–I started talking to him and he shared some pretty deep things about himself. I told him about THE SHACK  and gave him some encouragement.

I went back to the barn to see if I could help. A volunteer was panicking because he heard people were driving on the grass because they couldn’t find the exit. I asked if I could help, and he sent me and a woman about my age to the area to tell people where to go. It ended up that she was a very devout Catholic who attended a very open and loving church. I told her about THE SHACK and she was very receptive. We had a wonderful connection, and hugged when we left.

I gave everyone my business card and wrote THE SHACK on the back, and often www.thegodjourney.com as well. It was time to go. I was able to flag down a vehicle to help my friend because she can’t walk long distances–he was very kind. Everyone was kind. I liked the bag pipes at the end, too.

The next day I decided to go into Washington DC. My friend was pretty tired, so she encouraged me to take the METRO subway. Roseanna gave me a ride to the station, and I was off on an adventure. Even though I have a poor memory and terrible sense of direction, I love to get on mass transit, especially subways, and find my way around. People are for the most part so helpful because I am so helpless, and it seems to bring out the best in people. Normally I am so competent and confident–I kind of like being dependent on the hospitality of strangers.

I brought THE SHACK along. I first shared it because I laid it down conspicuously on the bench. A middle aged black lady asked me, “Is that a good book?” I shared my little testimony which I shared with almost everyone. She said she had gotten a message from some book store about it, and now she was going to get the book.

I read the book almost the entire time I was on the METRO. I held it up conspicuously for all to see. Once I noticed a young hispanic man in front of me sniffling. I was crying, myself, and I needed to blow my nose. THE SHACK does that too me. I offered him a kleenex, and he gratefully accepted. Maybe he noticed me reading THE SHACK. Maybe he saw my cross. Maybe he felt the love of Christ coming through me. I hope so.

After one change in trains, I got to my destination, Tacoma Park Station. I was about to go to a church service of a church I had read about years before. I had been very interested in The Seekers Church,  which seemed very open, loving, accepting, and encouraging. I couldn’t remember the name of it, but once I did a google search the night before I found it. It was conveniently located minutes from the station.

I stopped in a coffee shop called THE WANDERING NOMAD or something like that. The twenty’s something tall black clerk was smiling broadly. “I like your name–it suits me.” I said. He answered, “it suits me too!” I asked where the Seekers Church was, and he kindly directed me up the street.

I found the building easily, but could not find the entrance. Every door was locked. I thought this was somewhat symbolic–I needed to keep knocking, keep seeking. I finally rang the doorbell, and a man came down and graciously showed me to the service which was going on. I made it for a beautiful part of the service, and enjoyed it so much. I got to share briefly why I was there at the end.

I talked to everyone I spoke to about THE SHACK. There was a couple who teach at Palmer College in Philadelphia. They had read THE SHACK  and were spreading the word. They also knew Shane Claiborne, author of THE IRRESISTABLE REVOLUTION, who lived in Philadelphia. That is my favorite book about following Jesus, next to THE SHACK.

Every single person I spoke to (about ten) had read THE SHACK and loved it. I had some very wonderful conversations and was glad to have connected with this extremely special church. I look forward to keeping in touch and being mutually supportive.

The man who had let me in was the man who showed me to the door when I was ready to leave. I told him I was happy that the communion bread was so big and when it was passed around we could take as much as we wanted I was happy because I hadn’t eaten breakfast and I took an extra big piece. The remainder of holy bread was served at their coffee time afterwards and he said, “Well I need to give you the rest of this bread and you can share the holy bread at the march you are going to.” I was about to attend a march protesting the World Bank and IMF.

Fortunately and amazingly my next destination was on the same METRO line. I just had to get one ticket. I was kind of in a hurry so I would make it on time. I told the attendant that I didn’t really know what I was doing and I hadn’t been to Washington DC since I was ten years old. He gave me instructions, and I went over to the machine to buy my ticket. I didn’t realize that he had followed me out to help me. I dropped my change all over the floor, and as I was picking it up, I said I didn’t know if I had exact change–and all I had was a ten. He then proceeded to put a ticket into the machine and told me just to put in a quarter. It was only a $1.35 ticket–but it saved me from a long trip to find change. I wish now I had a card all ready to go to give people like that. It would say something like, “Thanks for being so kind. I want to return the favor and share this wonderful book with you.”

When I got to the park, the rally was about to begin. Some young men were standing near what looked like was going to be the stage. I felt so drawn to them, and had a wonderful conversation. They were into Jesus–in fact, their pastor was there with him, a middle aged, balding, slightly overweight fellow who did not in the least look like he would attend such a rally. So much for judgements…sigh! These fellows were happy to take a bit of holy bread, and one of them accepted my offer of water. In spite of bird flu pandemics, people had enough trust to share. Besides, the bread was holy! They were very interested in THE SHACK  and I hope and pray some seeds were planted that will spread in Florida.

Then I talked to a white haired gentleman who had been active in Vietnam protests in the sixties. When I asked him where he was at spiritually, he seemed to be an agnostic. Since he was a free lance writer, I thought he would be interested in the story of how THE SHACK came into being. In fact, I shared with everyone how I watched the book go from a self-published book with a $300 publicity budget to a number one New York Times best sellar for the last eight months. I also mentioned to everyone how hopeful I felt that such a book could be so popular because it helps people get out of being religious to being spiritual. Well, something like that. I used different words depending on who I was talking to. He seemed very interested.

Well, my time for writing is coming to a close. My friend and I drove back to Arkansas and just got back late last night. Now I am helping her get moved. But I wanted to capture some of my memories before I jumped back in. I want to give very, very quick glimpses of other times I shared THE SHACK.

At the same march, a Hindu lady who was concerned about the genocide in Sri Lanka was willing to learn about THE SHACK.

I shared with a young woman who works in international relief. She had heard about it but was reluctant to read it because it was so popular. Now she was interested.

A woman I met in a gas station while waiting for the restroom.

A gas station attendant who had a bumper sticker that said, “keep your eyes on Jesus”.

A rest stop attendant who was very kind and helpful.

Unfortunately, my traveling companion is not interested. I feel very sad about that, because I think that she would like it very much. Maybe she will change her mind….

I love sharing THE SHACK. It is my way of sharing the gospel with people. People don’t want to be hit over the head with the bible–at least the folks I talk to don’t. But the SHACK can be a place to enter and help people be willing to explore the bible and a relationship with Jesus.

My experience sharing the spirit of the shack with a 44 year old black man in Nashville is so moving–I don’t have time to write it all, but the bottom line is I think God had me go on this journey mainly so I could connect with TJ and remind him that God loves him especially and me especially. He said he was thinking about committing suicide because he was so hopeless. Please pray for him–a strong, loving, gracious, funny, beautiful man with a servant’s heart. I had just finished reading THE SHACK for the fourth time the night before, and the message of God’s love was fresh in my heart and mind. \

I feel so so so grateful that I have something so meaningful to share with people–something that is eternally priceless. I hope and pray that everyone can find Jesus in THE SHACK.
 

 

 

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Gossip is good…right?

April 22, 2009

One of the thing I really appreciate about THE SHACK is that it has connected me with similar minded people who help me to clarify my own beliefs. Because of THE SHACK  network I came across http://www.freebelieversnetwork.com which has a wealth of information which I am just now tapping into.

I remember hearing that gossip was a positive word which described how women would talk among themselves and sort things out. Their talking was not for the purpose of tearing others reputations down, but rather to let off steam and get back to a place of understanding and love for others. According to my memory, gossip became a very bad thing when the witch hunts started. Gossip got a bad rap because it was empowering women–and the powers that be didn’t want women to be strong and healthy. Thus, any kind of talking about others in a negative way became a sin, and a taboo.

I have long struggled with this concept. I know how easy it is for people to get on a roll of talking negatively about others for no reason but to complain and persuade others that this other person is doing something wrong. Often their intent is to hurt the other person as a kind of revenge. This can be a divisive act which harms people immeasurably.

But there are many times when people are speaking negatively about others because they are crying out for help. They want perspective. They want to forgive. They are angry. They need to vent. They want to get down to the unconditional love.  I know this is true for myself.

So when is gossip good, and when is it bad? This article describes how people refraining from gossip really hurt themselves and others. I hope that this will help you reframe your idea of gossip so that you can discern when it is constructive and when it is destructive. Gossip is really a neutral word which has become very negative–think about it!

http://freebelievers.com/blog-entry/the-shut-up-chip

http://freebelievers.com/blog-entry/the-shut-up-chip

How THE SHACK helped me deepen my relationship with Jesus

April 22, 2009

When I had this realization of how much God loves me, and how much Jesus loves me, it inspired me to talk to Jesus more, and surrender my life to him because I believe that he really wants the best for me. I trust him.

Now I love to talk to Jesus. I want to talk to him all the time, but often I forget. But when I remember, it is so precious to me.

Now I really yearn to experience him on a deeper level. I love to listen to preachers talk about the bible. I have a hard time reading the bible–but I so much enjoy hearing bible teaching. I understand more and more.

What really touches me is that mainstream teachers are emphasizing how much God loves us. I hear some teachings that just don’t ring true. But I feel so encouraged to hear these experts on the bible teach more and more about how we need to love God and love others.

About six months ago, I said to Jesus, “Look, I am tired of doubting you. I have read THE CASE FOR THE REAL JESUS by Lee Strobel three times now. I understand that you said you are God, and that you came to save us. I don’t understand everything, but I am willing to commit to totally following you until I die. I am tired of searching for this and that answer. I am just going to do my best to follow you and see where that leads. If when I die, I find out that I am wrong–so be it!”

Since I did that, my life has been an amazing adventure. The more I surrender, the more I find that my life is not my own any more. And that is shockingly okay. I am willing to be used by God to help bring the kingdom of heaven on earth. I sure don’t know the best way to go about it–although I have some experiences that might help. Even though there have been some very challenging experiences since I mad this commitment to Jesus, I find that my life is so much richer, full of peace and joy. I still fall exceedingly short of what I yearn to express. But how I see that changing my heart is so important–and Jesus is helping me do that. I don’t have to make this big effort.

It is so utterly different from how I have lived my life. I have always been so in control and goal oriented. My heart is starting to overflow more and more with compassion. The more I see myself and others and loved especially by our beloved Papa God, the more I am able to live in a loving manner.

The best thing is that I don’t worry so much what others think of me. I can understand ever more deeply what Marshall Rosenberg expressed when he says, “All communication is either a request for love, or an expression of love–some communications are done in tragic ways.”

I weep right now because I yearn to experience this more. I pray that Jesus will help me to change the way I see things and help me respond in more compassionate ways.

Watching THE SHACK blossom

April 22, 2009

When I first read THE SHACK in February of 2008, no one I knew had read it. I listened to the podcast on http://www.thegodjourney.com and learned about the book’s humble beginnings. I loved the story of how the author had written the book for his children with out intending to publish it. But with encouragement from friends, he decided to connect with Wayne Jacobson, author of WHY I DON’T GO TO CHURCH ANY MORE.

I really enjoyed hearing first hand how Wayne was reluctant to read the book because he had a hectic schedule. But he committed to reading about 12 pages. He explained that if he felt compelled to read more he would–but only if he really felt inspired. He ended up reading the whole manuscript and being deeply moved by the writing. He shared it with his partner, Brad Cummings. They decided to approach William Young, the author, and see if he was willing to collaborate on editing and pubishing the book.

I felt deeply touched listening to the three men share the humble beginnings of this amazing novel. I could feel their love for each other, and profound respect as well. I was inspired and uplifted by their explanation of how they decided to do this without any fancy legal agreements. They determined to trust each other. And so far it appears that their trust has increased and solidified.

I was unable to listen to the podcasts for about two months. I was shocked and encouraged when I reconnected to hear that a number of publishers in New York were interested in publishing the novel. Because the partners could not find a publisher to accept the work, a publishing company was formed specifically to publish it. Now, with the word of mouth advertising–and of course this included the internet–the book had been very successful.

I felt excited to be watching what I considered history in the making. THE SHACK was truly a revolutionary book. It was changing people’s lives. The beauty of it was that their relationship with Jesus was being deepened. Their spirtual life was transforming from dogma and guilt based–to a focus on having a loving relationship with Jesus. This transformation lead to people wanting to have loving relationships with others–not just those who believed as they did, but with everyone.

This was extremely encouraging to me, as one rejected by many Christians because I was different.

I was surprised and pleased to hear that THE SHACK had sold enough copies to be on some kind of list on USA Today. “Wow!” I thought. “This book is going somewhere.”

In the mean time, I talked to just about everyone I met about THE SHACK.  It was a great topic for conversation. If someone had read it, then we had a common theme to speak about. If they hadn’t, often people would say, “that’s amazing–someone just told me I should read this book–I guess I better do it.”

Once again, I lost touch with the podcasts. I moved and no longer had an internet connection and with limited time on the computer I chose not to listen to the podcasts on http://www.thegodjourney.com I would visit THE SHACK website occasionally–but it always said they were too busy to update the site. Somehow I missed the news that THE SHACK was number one on the New York Times best seller list since April.

So fourteen months after I read THE SHACK, I decided to reconnect with http://www.thegodjourney.com podcasts because I had access to a computer and I had a ton of sorting to do. I recently decided to downsize to living out of my van, and it was time to go through all my papers. I figured I would be motivated if I could listen to something interesting.

So I felt really inspired and touched by Brad and Wayne as they shared how they have been touched and inspired by readers of THE SHACK and other books that Wayne wrote. And finally I realized, even though they don’t talk about it much–that THE SHACK was number one on the New York Times best seller list.

There is hope for Christianity–thanks to books like THE SHACK

A SHACK attacker comes out of the closet

April 22, 2009

Thomas (name changed to protect the guilty) was a person who had caused me much grief in my life. To share the stories of how his words and influence had damaged my reputation and injured my family would take volumes to explain.

I saw Thomas at a gathering about a year ago. A month or so previously he had sent out an email notice to his large list of many people who attended the church I sometimes attended (and had previously been very deeply involved in). The notice explained how THE SHACK was heretical and people should not read it. I read the review, and thought it was very shallow and inaccurate. I was diappointed that Thomas was sharing such information about my beloved book which had contributed so much to enriching my relationship with Jesus and Papa God.

When I saw Thomas at the gathering, I jokingly said, “Hey, do you want to have a debate about THE SHACK?” Even though we had gone through horrible experiences together, we still had this camraderie that just could not be squelched.  I truly wanted to have a meaningful discussion, and understand why he didn’t like the book.

“Shhh! I like THE SHACK. But I am not quite ready to tell everyone,” Thomas said in a hushed tone.

“Wow!” I said, shocked. “What happened?”

“Well, after I sent the email out, I felt kind of bad because I hadn’t even read the book, “Thomas said seriously. “I though maybe I should read it. That day when I went out to get my mail, the book was in a brown paper bag in my mail box. Boy was I surprised! I read it, and realized that I was all wrong about it.”

“Amazing!” I answered. “So what do you think now?”

“I want to tell the world about this book. It is so important. It made me realize that I had a spirit of religion, and that I was passing it on to my  kids. I am hoping to inspire the elders to change their minds about it–but I am not quite sure how to explain it yet.”

We talked some more about the impact this little book had upon our l ives. I felt hope that there would be reconciliation with this man who had contributed to so much pain in my life.

All I can say is “amazing!”

How THE SHACK ruined my life

April 22, 2009

THE SHACK came to me at a time when I was desperately seeking answers to questions like, “Are you really out there, Jesus?” Before I read THE SHACK, I experienced a week where I struggled in and out of  depression. I had read about people who could not get out of bed because they were so discouraged–but I was definitely not one of those people. I could not understand how anyone could just stay in bed all day. Yet one day, I could not get out of bed–and I understood.  I managed to get out of bed early afternoon–but it was a scary struggle.  I was living alone at the time because I worked in town and my family lived in the country.

As much as I hated being away from my family, in some ways it was a blessing because it drove me to the depths of despair and I could really empathize with people who were lonely. My relationship with God was not very strong. Even though I had re-committed my life to Jesus six years previous, I had been discouraged in my walk with other Christians who seemed to be relating to a different Jesus and a different God.

During this time, every night I would wake up experiencing a really scary, perhaps demonic presence which told me how worthless I was. I felt so horrible–I just wanted to die. But instead, I called on the name of Jesus. I also would repent of all the things that I could think of.  Then I would think of all the various horrible ways that people were suffering in the world and I would weep and pray for them.

After about seven simultaneous visitations by this ominous presence,  I was really tired of the experience. This time I was determined to do something proactive. So I spent about two hours completely and utterly giving myself up to thinking of every painful experience that people could be having.  I imagined that these people were my close friends and relative. I let the grief wash over me until I was wailing and crying and praying. I cried out to Jesus to help me be a person who could alleviate this horrible suffering.  I asked for forgiveness for all the times I had fallen short. I felt as if I was being crucified.

And yet, at the same time, I felt a comforting presence. Who else could this be but my beloved Jesus who was always there for me in my time of deepest need.

The experience lasted for about two hours. I was spent. But I felt a peace that I had not felt for months–maybe years. I definitely felt the depression lift. Hope returned, giving me energy to do a google search that helped me find THE SHACK.

It took me a few days to find THE SHACK. I was still pretty vulnerable and praying that I could find something that could give me comfort and answers to the questions I had–like “Why does a good God allow so much suffering?” and “How do I relate to Jesus in a real and meaningful way?”

I remember reading or hearing about THE SHACK, and then immediately knowing that this was the answer to my prayer. I called Hastings Book Store, and was SO happy that they had two copies. I spent my last $16 on the book, and took it home to read it. I read late into the night, then finished it the next day. I cried so much, and was so deeply touched. It was as if I had spent time with God on a very intimate level.

I felt such great comfort. The experience was simply this: “God loves me especially. And he loves you especially.” This paradigm shift helped me to see myself and others with different eyes. Imagining that God loved me no matter what helped me immensely in feeling safe to confess my shortcomings and sins to a forgiving God who only wants the best for me. I could see that God wasn’t punishing me when things happened that I didn’t enjoy.   I realized that if I could learn to have a loving relationship with Jesus, I could truly be at peace. By listening and surrendering to him and working together with him to create the kingdom of heaven here on earth here and now, I could truly be content.

So how did this ruin my l ife?

I shared my story with people at a small church which I attended occasionally.  I had become more and more estranged from the people because I had differing beliefs. The main difference was that I did not believe the bible was inerrant.

People were allowed to give their testimonies. So I stood up and shared my impassi0ned experience, and how THE SHACK really helped me realize how much our Father loved me and everyone. I also shared how when I used the name of Jesus Christ, the demons fled. As I recall, everything I shared was about how my faith in Jesus was so much stronger than ever before. People came to me later and shared how they were touched by my testimony.

A week later, just minutes before the service that I decided to attend once again,hopeful that perhaps I could find some nourishment in this fellowship after having the freedom to share my experience, an elder came to me and asked to speak to me outside.

He said that the other two elders had decided that I could not speak, pray, dance, or do anything to minister to the attenders of the service–even though others could.

I was shocked. I thought my testimony the previous week had demonstrated my faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. Now I was being censored. When I asked why, I was told that it was because I didn’t believe that the bible was inerrant. than others. When I said there were others who attended the service who definitely had differing beliefs about the bible being inerrant, he said reluctantly, “That is true..but you are more vocal about it.”

But looking back, I really think that my sharing about how THE SHACK impacted my life, and the overwhelming comfort I experienced from knowing  that God loves me and everyone especially, was what got me silenced.

I could be wrong…but I want to blame something. So I just will blame THE SHACK! But it was really the best thing that could have happened to me. I quit attending the service,which was really quite toxic for my spiritual growth. I fasted for a year from this fellowship. Now more and more people are reading THE SHACK, even though the elders think it is heresy.

There is hope…even for the elders–who God loves especially!