The Shack – William Paul Young

“In some sense every parent does love their children. But some parents are too broken to love them well and others are barely able to love them at all..”

Original Synopsis – 

Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his “Great Sadness,” Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever. In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?” The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You’ll want everyone you know to read this book!


Having found the film marvellous I read the book and boy oh boy I quickly devoured it. The story pulled me in and kept me turning pages. It’s a stirring work of fiction. I’m not a religious person. Faith is a gift I have yet to receive. My mind tells me I will never understand God, and my heart tells me I’m not meant to. The book answers one burning question we have always asked God – Where were you when I was in so much pain? Why have you forsaken me ? 

The book’s central character, Mack, receives a strange note signed by “Papa” inviting him to come to “the shack.” Papa is the name Mack’s wife affectionately uses for God, and the shack is a deserted cabin located deep in the wilderness. This location is the site where immense tragedy invaded Mack’s life. While on a camping trip, his youngest daughter, Missy, was kidnapped and brutally killed inside the run-down shack. Mack doesn’t know if the mysterious note could be from the killer who is taunting him, or if it might also be a note from God. He goes to the shack to probe, and this is where most of the story takes place. It turns out the note is from God and Mack soon comes face to face with The Trinity. 

Each of the members of the Trinity appears in physical form. Papa, God whose actual name is Elousia (which is Greek for tenderness) appears in the form of a large, matronly African-American woman (though near the book’s end, because Mack requires a father figure, she turns into a pony-tailed, grey-haired man). Jesus is a young to middle-aged man of Middle-Eastern descent while the Holy Spirit is played by Sarayu (Sanskrit for air or wind), a small, delicate and eclectic woman of Asian descent. Mack also meets for a time with Sophia, who, like Lady Wisdom in Proverbs, is the personification of God’s wisdom. 

He spends a weekend with these three interesting characters trying to make sense of all the painful events of his life and hoping to get answers for the questions that have haunted him in the years following Missy’s death. 

The author portrays the Trinity in a unique way. But I found these to be not only interesting artistic choices, but actually enlightening in a spiritual sense as well. Why should we be concerned whether God is portrayed as male or female when, in fact, Scripture tells us that He is neither? God is Spirit and has no gender, even though the Bible often uses the pronoun “He” for God and describes him as a Father-figure the author explains this in the book.

The book is about healing and forgiving and loving, something I need. The book has calmed me down and I’m planning to do a book study on the same. Maybe I will find the peace I so desperately need within me. 

“Each relationship between two persons is absolutely unique. That is why you cannot love two people the same. It simply is not possible. You love each person differently because of who they are and the uniqueness that they draw out of you.”


Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of another person’s throat……Forgiveness does not create a relationship. Unless people speak the truth about what they have done and change their mind and behavior, a relationship of trust is not possible. When you forgive someone you certainly release them from judgment, but without true change, no real relationship can be established………Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive. But should they finally confess and repent, you will discover a miracle in your own heart that allows you to reach out and begin to build between you a bridge of reconciliation………Forgiveness does not excuse anything………You may have to declare your forgiveness a hundred times the first day and the second day, but the third day will be less and each day after, until one day you will realize that you have forgiven completely. And then one day you will pray for his wholeness……


“Pain has a way of clipping our wings and keeping us from being able to fly.”


“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.”


“Sometimes honesty can be incredibly messy”


“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but a the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.”


“Anger is the right response to something that is so wrong. But don’t let the anger and pain and loss you feel prevent you from forgiving him and removing your hands from around his neck.”


“Evil is a word we use to describe the absence of Good, just as we use the word darkness to describe the absence of Light or death to describe the absence of Life. Both evil and darkness can only be understood in relation to Light and Good; they do not have any actual existence. I am Light and I am Good. I am Love and there is no darkness in me. Light and Good actually exist. So, removing yourself from me will plunge you into darkness. Declaring independence will result in evil because apart from me, you can only draw upon yourself. That is death because you have separated yourself from me: Life.”


“You may have to declare your forgiveness a hundred times the first day and the second day, but the third day will be less and each day after, until one day you will realize that you have forgiven completely. And then one day you will pray for his wholeness and give him over to me so that my love will burn from his life every vestige of corruption.”


“Paradigms power perceptions, perceptions power emotions.”


God is a verb


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