Yesterday Tim and I went to see the movie “The Shack” which is a movie made from a fiction book written by William P. Young. If you have been in Christian circles over the past ten years, you will know that there is a great deal of controversy regarding many things Paul Young wrote in this book. Honestly, if I had read this book 20 years ago I would be saying some of the same things people who are discrediting the book are saying today. When I did read the book 10 years ago I had to stop several times and pray about what I was reading. Why? Because the author’s portrayal of God was so completely different from the perception I had of God that it was almost freightening. If you have read the book or seen the movie you may think, “Freightening?” “How could that portrayal of God be freightening?” It wasn’t the beautiful way he described God; it was the fact that my concept of God was being challenged. You see, regardless of the fact that no one meant to give me a poor concept of God, it happened. Children are the best recorders AND the worse interpretors. We take everything in and make our own decisions on what it means. AND we have an enemy just waiting on the skirts to jump into our path and distort our thinking. Was God going to strike me with lightening for reading this book? Was I being deceived because this could be the “end times?” Yes, those thoughts crossed my mind ten years ago and caused me great fear.
After much prayer I pushed through and continued to read the book. While there were a couple of sentences I, personally, would have changed; the good far outweighed any perceived bad that this book contained. God had already been working in my heart for years trying to show me that HE was not like an impatient daddy. HE was not like a disengaged mother. HE passionately loved me and absolutely loved spending time with me.
In 1991 I was challenged to draw a picture of God. The instructor and dear friend, Mike Darnell, taught a beautiful lesson on how we mostly relate to God from our emotions, not our intellect. Like it or not, while knowledge is crucial, emotions many times do override the way we walk through life and relate to people and circumstances. It takes intentional effort to reset our default and it is the IDEAL to always walk in truth. But I’m merely saying we just don’t do it on a moment by moment basis.
I have since used this exercise in my counseling office with many clients. I ask them to imagine it’s a day when everything is going wrong. Now, draw a picture of God. I’ve seen many pictures over the years that are heartbreaking. We ALWAYS come back to the truth through scriptures toward the end of the session but we cannot deal with what we do not know is there. Nearly every time I heard the words, “Wow, I had no idea I felt that way.”
I drew three pictures. One was the way I saw God as a little girl. You see, I was one of those little girls that walked down the aisle at church every three months and “rededicated” my life to God. I now know that I felt bad, defective and dirty from the things I experienced in life. As I see my tear stained face I can hear my heart saying, “I’m so sorry I’m so bad God, PLEASE forgive me.” As a young teen I was so full of fear my nightly prayers were to try to confess every sin I had committed that day and ask for forgiveness. And then I said, “And Lord, if I have forgotten any sins I just ask for forgiveness for those too right now. And Lord, if I’m not saved, please please please save me now.”
Back to my pictures; I drew the inside of a church with a little girl walking down the aisle. God’s face was above the pulpit with the most indifferent look you have ever seen. I put a cartoon caption above his head and it said with a roll of the eyes, “Here she comes again.”
The second picture I drew was my concept of God as a teenager. You see, I was a very spiritual teenager but struggled with intense hatred for my father. So after a huge fight I moved out and got an apartment instead of going to bible college. It did not take long before I started experiencing acceptance in the world and started going to clubs. In this second picture I drew a picture of me sitting in a bar. (I use to always think I hope Jesus doesn’t return to earth right now and catch me here. I know, really dumb thought.). I’m sitting at a table, Jesus is coming down through the clouds and to the side of my table are a multitude of faces with flames underneath them. If you look closely you see blood dripping from my finger tips. The caption by Jesus head said, ‘After all I’ve done for you, you could not have led more people to Christ. There blood is on your hands.” (I still struggle today with being over responsible in SO many areas of my life. I’m still a work in process.)
The third picture was me as a young mother with my son and Tim. I was unhappy and once again I saw the indifferent face of God saying, “Young lady, you’ve made your bed now lie in it.” So do you see why reading a book about the love of God rocked my world?
It’s beautiful to see how God changed my life, healed my wounds and redeemed my marriage. I’m married to the most wonderful “gentle man” you could ever know. You see most men in my life have hurt me. God knew exactly what he was doing when he put Tim and I together. Tim is the opposite of what I have seen in most men. God is using him in a powerful way to continue to unearth my distortions of men and to show me pure love. This too has greatly influenced my concept of God. Stay tuned for part 2. More about The Shack.