“And why the shack – the icon of his deepest pain? Certainly God would have better places to meet with him.”

It started out as a wonderful family vacation. Mackenzie Allen Philips and his children were heading up the lake to relax and enjoy some canoeing and hiking in the woods. Mackenzie, or Mack, as he was nicknamed, was having a wonderful time. His kids, Kate, Missy, and Josh were happy and healthy. His marriage to Nan was strong. He couldn’t say that for his relationship with God, but it wasn’t terrible. Life was good. But even to a good family, bad things can happen.

Missy was kidnapped. Though they searched frantically, she was never found. She was assumed murdered at the hands of  her kidnapper, when blood and a torn dress were found in an old, abandoned shack. 

The family was never the same again. The Great Sadness had overwhelmed Mack, leaving him a brooding, disparaging soul. There was no more strong relationship with his wife. Any affection to God was gone. Mack’s connection with his children was slowly crumbling.

Four years later, still enveloped by The Great Sadness, Mack received a strange note; a note inviting him back to the shack for a weekend, a note supposedly from God. Mack was suspect of the whole thing, but decided to go back to the place where he lost his little girl, only to have his entire world turned upside down.

William Paul Young invites you to join Mack in this brilliant journey to answer the question that haunts everyone—Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain? In The Shack, the horrors of earth meet the divine pleasures and blessings of Heaven, as God is not a distant figment of our imagination, God is here. God is there in the place of our greatest hurt and pain. God is in The Shack.

“Mackenzie, evil is a word we use to describe the absence of Good, just as we use the word darkness to describe the absence of Light or death to describe the absence of Life. Both evil and darkness can only be understood in relation to Light and Good; they do not have any actual existence. I am Light and I am Good. I am Love and there is no darkness in me.”

I remember when this book originally was published. There was a lot of controversy surrounding it. That was part of the reason why I was slow to pick it up and read it. I didn’t want others’ opinions clouding my position on this book. Now that much of the dust has settled around The Shack, I can see where both camps, the supporters and detractors, are coming from.

It is something to grapple with, the idea that God is a mother. Though He is not thought of this way, it is not a heretical idea. There is biblical support for God displaying and demonstrating feminine qualities. For most people that have grown up in the Church, this may have been, and may still be, a startling notion. But that doesn’t, and shouldn’t take away from the brilliant picture of God in all of His or Her divine qualities and characteristics.

The way that William Paul Young explores and unveils the complexities of God, the Trinity, and the relationship that God has with humanity is nothing short of astounding. It isn’t that Young has finally cracked the mystery of how one Person can be a Triune Being, or that he finally has the answers to why God choses to intervene in certain situations and not in others. But he explains in a masterful storytelling stroke the eternally loving character of the Father, Son, and Spirit. You see the unity, yet uniqueness of the Trinity, all the while still seeing the misconceptions about God and His motives addressed, revealing the truth.

This is not a theological textbook about the character of God. This is not a doctoral thesis about the existence of evil, or how God works in the universe, despite our free will. The Shack is a novel. This is a story, something that was birthed in the imagination of William Paul Young, and then put onto the page. Yet, at the same time, there is something extraordinarily powerful about this story that goes beyond amusing characters and relatable story lines. The Shack speaks to the soul in very real terms, addressing the issues that plague us all. The Shack opens up the heart and mind of the reader to the very real presence of a God that is so very fond of them.

“The Shack wrestles with the timeless question: Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain? The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You’ll want everyone you know to read this book!”

Yes, yes you will.

The Shack is more than just a novel about a man that lost his daughter. This book is one man’s theological declaration about the character of God and how He works in our world. A beautiful, uplifting theological declaration, one that I will keep ON MY SHELF for my kids to read one day.

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