Setting Myself Free

Last night, I finally watched “The Shack” movie. I’d read the book about eight years ago, early in my journey of spiritual formation (and “recovery”). I think that at the time it contributed quite a bit to my understanding of our triune God.

Since I don’t want to spoil it if you haven’t read or seen it, I’ll summarize it simply: one man is deeply hurt by another; both are sinners; sin is sin. Actually, it’s a little like the Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel stories. Death is involved, both physical and spiritual.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

I find it slightly interesting that there are some verses I’ve tended to stay away from when Sharing God’s Story. They are the “famous” ones I learned as a child. “For the wages of sin…” “For God so loved the world…” Maybe my assumption is that everyone knows and opines about them, which must obviously be false. The world wouldn’t be this broken, if it were true?

Anyway, I certainly found parts of my own life in the story. (By the way, I felt the movie kept fairly close to the book.) There are two sins represented. This first is, of course, that of the killer. To “get” the other sin takes a whole lot of self-examination, and both knowledge and experience of The Word of God. It is the sin of playing God, of sitting in The Judgement Seat.

“Sin is its own punishment.” (God, “Papa” in The Shack’)

I wrote, in Hope For Life, about how I, in my sin, locked myself away in a prison of my own making. In this is the gist of the quote. The bars of my cell were (are) shame, guilt, self-pity, self-loathing, my addictive and compulsive “need” for certain behaviors, and my literal love-hate relationship with myself. The door to the cell is a perverted, physial love of self, and my judging of everyone else contrasted with my fear of my own imminent, guaranteed verdict, of ongoing self-condemnation. Closed, the gate is my view that everything is sexual, that everything is a cause for forced and fake celebration (drinking only to get drunk), that I forever desperately search for another life in role-playing video games where I am a creator god, and a new and different character as many times as I like.

My “release” was the very best and worst day of my life; the day I tried to impose sentence; the day The Director called, “Cut! Bring on the stunt double!” The day (if there ever was just one) when Jesus loved me the most.

The lesson was that somebody did love me unconditionally, despite everything I had ever done. And this is the divine pardon, all I ever needed and wanted.

This is God’s story, His movie, His book. But in a way, in how He loves me, I’m the star, highly paid, the highest paid by the gift of spiritual rebirth. I’ve been reborn, an innocent child again, with new eyes that see good and the potential for it in the world, and, most importantly, in myself.

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