Seen in the Scenes

Back when I was single, one of my many pastimes was going to the movies on my own.

It might sound depressing, but once in a while, I actually enjoyed sitting in a theatre alone, getting out of my apartment for a social activity while blending in anonymously among people out with their families, friends or dates.

Just the other day, with my wife encouraging me to treat myself during the March Break, I decided to relive old times. So, I headed to a nearby cinema to watch The Shack.

You may have already seen or heard of the movie, based on the best-selling Christian novel of the same title by William P. Young.

Well, having read the book years ago and having been extremely moved by it, I had been wanting to see the film since I first viewed its trailer advertisements some weeks ago.

To say the movie impacted me would be a gross understatement. In fact, I am thankful I went to see it alone and in the early afternoon, as there was far less of a chance people I knew would see me squirm and sob throughout the film.

Now, I am not writing this to shower praise and call The Shack the best movie ever or to insist you head to your local theatre to see it. Each person who views it will form his or her opinion, just like in the case of the book.

And, just like the novel, the film is sure to generate debate based on such points as its theological accuracy, representation of the Holy Trinity and just sheer plausibility.

What I am wanting to do here, however, is simply recount an experience so painful yet wonderful.

What The Shack did for me – and might do for so many others – was provide great torture and heartache, while also clothing me in beautiful comfort and relief.

Truly a paradox, a film that presented me with such emotional and hurtful memories also provided tremendous catharsis and peace.

Below are just a few quotes from The Shack that really piqued my interest and spoke to me, along with a brief commentary on how they relate to our world.

(Of course, I don’t pretend to know the full or final answers to these points or queries, and I will not dare be so bold as to attempt to provide expert responses. What follow are simply my reactions and thoughts, based on my faith position and journey. Yours, naturally, may be entirely different.)

When all you see is your pain, you lose sight of Me.
What a stirring declaration and I can just imagine God telling us this in the midst of a terrible hardship. Yet, how true is this statement? If God really is all-compassionate and loving, and throws His mercy upon us always, why, then, do we let our hearts be hardened and block Him from doing His healing handiwork?

Sight set on God 1

As long as there is a will in the universe free not to know the Father, evil will exist.
One of the most complex and frustrating realities in the world is free will. As humans, we are given by God the power to choose how to think, speak and act for ourselves. As such, we sometimes dismiss our responsibility for this gift, forgetting there are consequences – good or bad – for all that we do. Sin is not God’s doing but ours. When evil occurs, perhaps we can realize opportunity to restore God’s goodness, rather than blaming Him for the harm or suffering before us.

You are stuck not because you can’t. You are stuck because you won’t.
So many of us want closure for unresolved questions or events in our lives. But if we hold on to these matters despite their lack of explanation – which may or may not ever satisfy us – how can we move forward while still dwelling in the past? As difficult as it may be, we must invite the grace of God to grant us courage to let go of whatever it is that haunts or troubles us. Only by letting go and allowing God to repair and relieve us can we venture ahead and discover all that He still has in store for us.

Stuck in Mud 1

So there you have it. Not so much a movie review, but a reaction to a movie.

The story of how one man wrestles with personal nightmares and discovers God’s eternal presence and love along the way, The Shack is an experience you would be wise not to miss.

The film – and the novel on which it is based – can certainly have a life-altering influence on anyone.

No matter how challenging or unsettling visiting one’s inner and personal shack may be, the results can be so gratifying and can truly give us a feeling that – whether at His house or someone else’s – with God, we are always at home.