Sunday, March 12, 2017
I not only took this movie in the first time (sobbing into my kleenex, wrecked and not even absorbing most of it), I took it in twice.
The second time, I was armed with my NOTES section on my phone under my hoodie, as not to disurb my neighbors, and an entire wad of kleenex. (My movie buddy, Stephanie Cramer, didn't get the memo about the kleenex and will tell you she destroyed the front of her shirt, crying on it... "Look at these snot circles...I'm surprised it's not just covered" she told me as we left the movie theater).
You guys. The book of this movie wrecked me. I read it, while we had Laynie and just so many parts of it, spoke directly to my heart. My brother will tell you it changed him.
So here goes... my love letter to the makers of the Shack and why it meant so much to me.
"Will God make me jump off a mountain?" started it off for me! So many times, the thing God asks of our heart and our lives seems like jumping off a mountain. For me, it was the advent of 3 foster kids. Did I realize I was going to jump off a mountain and adopt them? For Lacey, she will tell you it was Laynie. When Lacey prayed a powerful prayer the beginning of October 2007, and her mountain was the beauty and pain of Laynie Hope. When God speaks to your heart and asks you to jump off a mountain. Holy moly.
It would be easy (OH SO EASY) to have a loss, and blame God. When Mac (the main character) goes to the Shack and yells at God, "You brought me here and didn't have the guts to show up." How many of us have thought this time and time again? We are in a painful, brutal place and feel like God isn't there??
And then God arrives, in the form of Jesus, and tells Mac how glad He is to see him and told him almost first thing, "You have no idea how much I love you"
This movie resonates with love. There is evil in this movie, yes, but friends, isn't this world brimming with evil? And in the center of the evil, we live our lives, trying to do the right thing, trying to make the right choices for ourselves and for our families. And God is there, loving us and waiting on us to lean on Him. When Mac asks, "Why did you bring me here (meaning the shack), Papa (the God character) tells him "Here is where you got stuck. It has caused a great gulf between us, and I'm especially fond of you". He is so angry and Papa tells him, "There is NO INSTANT FIX, a little bit of time and a lot of relationship will fix this Great Sadness".
POWERFUL. And so true. I see my own life now as Life before Laynie Hope, and life after Laynie Hope. Before Laynie, I just lived, I hit and missed church, I tithed when I wanted to, I rarely shared Jesus to friends, I recklessly pushed my way through life. I thought I had a good relationship with Him, but I didn't KNOW Him, I didn't seek His face in everything in life, and then we found out about Laynie, and I knew I had to have Him with me every step of my life.
When Mac is telling Jesus, "You abandoned her! A little girl". And Papa tells him, "When all you see is your pain, you lose sight of me. Love always leaves a mark. I never left"
Wow. Holy kleenex, wow. How many of us, during the hardest times, give in to the pain and don't seek God? The hardest of times, when we are down on our knees in pain, are the VERY TIME we SHOULD SEEK HIM. We are already in the position, just GO TO HIM, and let HIM SPEAK life into your pain. Go. To. Him.
In the movie, it shows Mac in a boat in the lake and the water turns inky and he sees his son in the water, and can't get to him, and the boat starts to splinter. As Mac begins to panic, He hears Jesus tell him, "Look at me, don't look at the chaos around you, Keep your eyes on me". Kleenex time extraordinare for me. I think of all the political unrest now, all the worries of Isis, even as small as my kid going into the military (is that small?) and I can hear that voice, "You're imagining a future without me and that future does not exist". God is always there.
Kleenex alert, here. Just saying.
I had no idea how fast I am to judge. It's just a daily thing for me. I judge on appearance, on what I feel, what I've heard, and bottom line is, it's not my place to judge. All I am put in this world to do, is love. That's it. And when crap goes wrong, first thing I do is the blame game. I have held on to a grudge for YEARS, and watching this movie, I realize it's not mine to hold on to. I have to let go of the anger and pain I feel, to truly be God's child. "Forgiveness doesn't establish a relationship. It just allows your heart to heal and love without constraint. You may have to ask it a thousand times before it gets any easier, but it will, and remember, you don't have to do it alone".
When Mac sees his daughter at the waterfall, after realizing how he had been blaming God, and she is "Running and Running and Running"... well you have to know what happened to me. And when she jumped into Jesus's arms. It was exactly how I pictured Laynie running and jumping into God's arms. And knowing that for me, gave me the healing I needed during those despairing hours after losing her. She was Home, with Jesus. Running and running and running. *tears****
"It always works better when we do it together, don't you think"
And finally the realization, "I've been pretty hard on you, God". and papa's response, "Maybe we can put it in the past where it belongs". No condemnation, no judgement, just love and acceptance.
This is where I was hung up for YEARS. I did a lot of terrible things. I made bad choices and hurt many people. I didn't feel worthy of God's love, and became the judge of myself. It took me many many lost years to realize, that I am worthy, and God loves me in spite of the things I did. And I promise you, He loves you as much. We are his children. We love our children. Even when they screw up and do stuff we don't like, our love never wavers for them. I don't know why I never understood that. I wasted years thinking God couldn't love me. Years. Don't make that mistake.
Forgiveness heals. No matter where you are in your lives, a relationship with God (his son, and his spirit) will heal you. You don't have to fight whatever you are fighting alone, you have a father that loves you and yearns for you. Don't make the mistake I did and not seek His face.
When you lay in bed at night and the worries of the world enter your heart and chase sleep away, keep your eyes on him. Focus on him. Pray to him. I imagine his giant hand reaching from heaven, (imagine King Kong reaching for Fay Ray) and me, just climbing up over the thumb, and sliding down his fingers, and resting in His palm. Asleep in His hands. It works for me, EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Do yourself a favor. Grab a box of kleenex, head to a theater and go see, "The Shack". It will change you.
Keep your eyes on Him, for He's especially fond of you.