Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Shack, Brennan Manning, and Me

Amidst a spiritual crisis in my life, my wife asked me to read William P. Young's book, "The Shack". At the same time, I was blessed to attend a conference led by Brennan Manning, author of such books as, "The Ragamuffin Gospel" and "Ruthless Trust".

To make a long story short, two years ago I believed God wanted me to become a youth pastor. I prayed. I researched. I spoke with family and friends. The journey was going my way. The lights were green. I knew God wanted me to...

But the path became more and more cloudy; cluttered with "what ifs" and "how tos". I stumbled and while feeling alone and abandoned, I resorted back to the same 'ol life. No one had an answer. I prayed. And with each prayer came silence. Soon, I gave up. Did God even care anymore? Why did His signs stop? Why did the path to ministry suddenly come to a halt?

Needless to say, church became mundane. The preaching, from different pastors, was dry. I tried reading the Bible, but I was disheartened. My prayers became stale.

Fast forward...
"The Shack" tells the fictional story of Mack, a person who suffers great loss and finds redemption through meeting the Trinity: God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. The story examines God's love through the pain and how He is always present. Eventually, Mack comes to terms with his loss, restores his faith in God, and comes to fully love his family.

Young does a good job portraying God as a loving, sovereign being who understands our pain, loss, and love. Young paints Jesus as God in the flesh and King, while he characterizes the Holy Spirit as a part of the triune God [a little difficult to explain, but worth the read].

Yes, there are parts of the book I didn't quite grasp. For instance, the book doesn't spend time on God's justice [Heaven vs. Hell] or Satan. Instead, it focusses more on love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. However, I wasn't disappointed that Young chose the aforementioned. I could definitely relate to Young's character, Mack: The feeling of loss, being alone, and disappointed with God.

Combined with Manning's message [a loving God] and Young's book, I finally broke down and spoke to God with a heart filled with grief and longing. I felt like the prodigal who went on his own way only to realize that I need God now more than ever.

As Young mentioned is his book, Mack is restored, but his life isn't perfect and he still has his down moments. Brennan says we are to love like Jesus, not as we should be, cause we will never be as we should be. He [Brennan] believes when we die, we will be asked by Christ one question, "Did you know that I truly loved you?"

I've stopped running after something I am not: A perfect role model for all to see and hear. God knows that and He still loves me.

Here are links to Brennan Manning's website and The Shack.

Peace be with you...


Howie Luvzus said...

Thanks for sharing your struggles. Manning is one of my favorite authors too.

I pray that out of his glorious riches God may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Jillian said...

Hey, you don't know me but I've been looking for the sermon (or whatever it was) by Brennan Manning that you reference here - about God not loving us as we should be because we'll never be as we should be. Do you know where I can find that?

tracysbooknook.com said...

I have to say that "The Shack" by William P. Young was a very thought provoking read.

After reading the book, I was left pondering several things about it – which is a true testament to the book's worth. I had several questions on the validity of some of the descriptions of God but I had to humbly admit that there may be no answers this side of heaven for how God presents Himself to each individual.

I posted a more in-depth review of this book on my own blog www.tracysbooknook.com.