The Shack came out in 2017 but I finally got around to seeing this past weekend and I have to say its really incredible. The film is an adaption of a 2007 bestseller by first-time author William P. Young.
It is a beautiful, tear-jerking movie of a young kid with an alcoholic and abusive father, who later gets married to a loving wife. These two have three cute kids, who have a closer relationship with God than their father, Mack. When a tragedy strikes Mack's family, it threatens to ruin everyone until God steps in and changes the story.
Here are some of the important faith lessons I learned from it.
God really is good
The Bible talks a lot about God's goodness (Psalm 100:5) but it can be easy to forget or ignore this in a crazy, seemingly evil world like ours.
This movie is a beautiful reminder of just how good God really is, so good that He blesses an older Mack (played by Sam Worthington) with a great wife, who is able to hold on the family together when her husband is unable to.
God's goodness is displayed when He shows concern for Mack's traumatic life by taking on the shape of a woman who was a kindly, pie-offering neighbor to a younger Mack (played by Carson Reaume). Hence, God is played by Octavia Spencer.
Relationship over religion
A lot of us grew up on religion. Like Mack, we grew up with churchy parents who sadly did despicable things which in turn negatively affected how we saw God.
This movie changes this popular narrative that God is a moral monster waiting for us to mess up so that He can punish us and eventually send us to Hell.
Instead, God is portrayed how He really is, as a loving, good, merciful, kind, just God who wants a relationship with His creation, above everything. He wants us to choose Him, choose to open up and tell Him stuff and in general, for us to do life with Him.
He does not want slaves or prisoners, but willing children who know and trust that His way is better than theirs could ever be, especially when things look like they don't make sense.
Jeremiah 29:11- "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope."
Forgiveness is key to spiritual growth
The movie character, Mack, is like so many of us. We go around filled with anger over all the terrible things that have happened to us. Like him, we focus only on the pain until it takes over and changes everything. As God (played by Spencer) aptly puts it, 'When all you see is your pain, perhaps then you lose sight of me.'
The movie reminds me of the incredible power of forgiveness. When Mack finally forgives his father and the serial killer who took his daughter, he becomes a lighter, joyful person who can finally pursue and have a deep relationship with God.
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Holding on to anger or bitterness at whoever hurt you is liking drinking rat poison and expecting that person or people to die. The reality is that you die a slow death as you go from the loving person God intended for you to a bitter, resentful person.
I learned that forgiveness on my own can seem impossible but with God's help, it is totally doable.
Extra lessons on God and spirituality
The movie also showed me why it is important not to judge as we never really know other people's stories. It also reminded me of how much God loves each and every one of us even when we hurt Him with our terrible choices.
Regardless of the criticism and controversy around the movie, I have to say that it is a really great faith-based film that will hopefully encourage the viewer to seek a deeper relationship with God over religion.