Without fail, every single time we receive a package here from the States, it contains at least one completely unexpected but perfectly appropriate item. Normally what friends and relatives send has been requested and tremendously appreciated. Boxes have included peanut butter, Velveeta cheese, Kool-Aid and clothes. Simple things without a doubt, but secrets about which the Portuguese have no clue. For example, our girls often take Kool-Aid with their snack to school and have to tell their classmates that it is just, “the juice of America.” Such statements are glorious in their simplicity and perhaps more accurate than the average adult would admit, However, with upturned noses, our pedantic European friends often remain the in dark regarding some of America’s most precious treasures, including the freedom that comes with Christ’s forgiveness.
But the packages, oh, how timely are the packages – each one a conscious reminder of how our heavenly Father always knows best how to bless His children. He, as all great fathers do, cares for both our needs and wants. Many times the two, our need and wants, remain deftly interwoven and inseparable.
Our latest package came less than two weeks ago and a majority of the contents have already been ravaged, even with my feeble attempts to ration their Walmart-y goodness. The surprise of the box though was a book called “The Shack,” written recently by William P. Young. While I don’t normally read modern, living fiction writers, I try to read each book I receive as a gift. This was no different. I would try.
Dutifully, I began a novel about a man who spends one weekend by himself, in a shack with all three members of the Godhead. It’s fiction, OK? And, yes, he spends a weekend with God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Each appear in very surprising personifications, which I will not spoil for you, but for which you should be prepared seeing that they most likely will fly in the face of our American mindset.
Dutifully, I began, curiously I continued, and worshipfully I completed the book. My soul and spirit soared with each turning page, although troubled at times my heart ached and dared to process what my mind comprehended. I finished the book with a firm commitment to live each day striving to recognize God in everything that I do – as my Father and not some idea or delusion of my imagination. Everyday, I want to cultivate my relationship with the Lord, just as I would with my dad or my wife. That’s the essence of Christianity – a relationship with a living, caring God.
With a few statements I disagreed, but I have firmly decided not to play judge and jury with minor nuances and semantics. Want to know what I learned? Preconceptions are inevitable but never insurmountable. In turn, they are detrimental but should not be completely disastrous. The Lord gently reminded me that He doesn’t fit in my theological box, but He longs to be part of my life. From The Shack, I learned that He’s “especially fond of me,” and at the same time, that He’s especially fond of you too. Want to know what else I learned? I learned that what I found in the box, wasn’t what I thought was in there.