Over the years of my Christian life I have often grappled with the questions, "How can I have a relationship with someone I cannot see, hear or touch? What kind of a relationship is it if one party is limited by being bound to this humanity?" I know, and have preached on the theologically correct answers to these questions. I recall J. Sidlow Baxter preaching a series of messages back during my bible college days where he encouraged us to read the Gospels photographically and see Jesus as the Gospel writers portray Him – a practice I have often undertaken over the 30 or so years since. As I have read through John’s Gospel I have taken careful note of Jesus words in 14:7 "If you have known me, you will also know my Father. From now on you know him and have seen him." As I have grown in the Christian disciplines and pursued my walk with God I have learned to hear from his Word and rejoice in intimate fellowship with Him. But there still arise those moments when ‘feelings’ and faith seem to be on opposite sides of the experience pendulum.
This past summer I read a book that had a profound impact on my perception of my relationship with God. The book is The Shack by William P. Young. It is a powerful story of a father’s overwhelming grief in the face of horrific tragedy and how God turns that grief into an opportunity to get to know the Heavenly Father. It is difficult to classify this book. Is it fiction? Eugene Peterson’s comment on the book cover seems to imply that it is allegory. As I read it, I couldn’t help but try to get into the author’s mind and ask, "what motivated this book?" Is it autobiographical? What ever the genre the impact on me was telling. As I was reading it on the plane I kept looking around to see if anyone was noticing my tears. I wept out of sheer joy as my perspective of what God desired in relationship was deepened. I wept out of a profound sense of being humbled by the Father’s passionate love. I wept out of a refreshed intense longing to know Jesus more. I wept as the Spirit took that story and breathed into my soul a new understanding of His desire to draw me closer.
The Shack is a book I would recommend to every Christian. You will be drawn into a fresh understanding at God’s ineffable love for his children and the kind of relationship we were intended to have with Him.