I have recently re-read The Shack. People tend to either love it or hate it. Me - I love it. To me it shows our God as so much bigger and better than anything our limited human expectations, knowledge or even experience could hope to dream up when we think of Him. We tend to try and put him in a box with a label God and we think we know what's inside it, but The Shack blows away any box or limitation we might try to put on Him. So let me share with you a few truths that have spoken deeply into my being in my journey to The Shack:
Lesson One - The Father Heart
God is neither male nor female. So why do we always think of him as being exclusively male?
This is what The Shack has to say:
I am neither male nor female, even though both genders are derived from my nature. If choose to appear to you as a man or a woman, its because I love you. For me to appear to you as a big, black motherly woman and suggest that you call me Papa is to simply mix metaphors to help you from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning.
To reveal myself to you as a very large, white grandfather figure with a flowing beard, like Gandalf, would simply reinforce your religious stereotypes.
How why do we tend to only hear of him as a Father? Why is he revealed most this way?
There are many reasons for that, and some of them go very deep. Let me say for now that we knew once Creation was broken, true fathering would be much more lacking than mothering. Don't misunderstand me, both are needed - but an emphasis on fathering is necessary because of the enormity of its absence.
This got me to thinking how many hundreds of millions, if not billions of children on the planet who are alive right now have come from broken or non-existent parent relationships.
In most cases, if not all the child more naturally lives with the mother when the parents relationship (if they ever had one) falls apart.
How much more than must a Father be needed? A Heavenly, loving Father who will not leave when the going gets tough, who will not forsake, who will be the Father figure these children have never had?
Coming from a 2-parent family (and in an extended family history where there have been very few break-ups) I had never thought of how a child's heart must ache so terribly not to see both figures in their lives, to see the bond of love that exists between a mother, father and child. The triangle of love.
But God the Father, Papa, he sees it. He knows that ache. And is here to heal, to bridge that chasm, to be the Father some have never known.
What a glorious opportunity for redemption and relationship, freely available to us all.
He's there, He's always been there.
Our Papa waits for us.