Trust Me?

“Do you trust me?”

Trust me

I was asked this question this week, and it took everything in me not to physically cringe or roll my eyes dramatically.  I was willing to answer the question … and answer it honestly.  Even though I knew the answer would not go over well.

 

But God was gracious, and He allowed it to be a quick question in the middle of a long conversation.  No answer from me was needed.  So no pot was stirred.  No history was repeated.  No feelings were disparaged.

 

But it still got me thinking what a loaded and potentially dangerous and/or life altering the question can be.

 

I don’t mind telling you the truth, about anything.  But I realize that my truth telling is conditional.  Because how honest I am depends on who you are and what the situation is.

 

When you ask me directly, I answer honestly.  There is a really good chance I will be fully honest, holding nothing back.  But I might hesitate at full honesty if the circumstances are sketchy – if I know you will disagree with me, you won’t hear me, you only want me to agree with you (whether I do or not), or you want something use it against me.

 

And I think we are all the same way (if we’re honest).

 

But then a bigger question came up – Do I trust God?

 

It is one thing to have caution and care with people.  But there should be no boundaries, no hesitation, and no doubt when it comes to God.

 

So do I trust the person who asked me the question?  Not fully, at least not in our shared setting.

 

Do I trust God?  Completely.

 

This doesn’t mean I understand everything that happens.

This doesn’t mean I have all my questions answered.

This doesn’t mean I always get my way or my wish.

 

It simply means that I have come to the crossroads of decision and decided that God is the best choice.

 

No matter what the circumstance.

No matter what the emotion.

No matter what the comfort level.

No matter what the company.

 

And King Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, says this is the wisest choice to make.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

 

Trust in the Lord – in all circumstances and with all confidence.  Don’t think you know better.  Don’t assume you are smarter.  Don’t try to convince God your plan is better.  Stop and listen to what He wants to say to you – and then not trust your own wants, desires, and thinking.

 

Maybe he learned this from his father, King David, one of the beloved men of God.  David, no matter what he was going through, always chose to trust God.  When despised and left out by his brothers, he trusted God.  When on the run for 15 years from his father-in-law King Saul, he trusted God.  When God refused to let him build His house, he trusted God.  Through everything he experienced, David chose to live by his words in Psalm 37:3-6 – “Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.  Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday.”

 

Maybe you aren’t quite there yet.  And that’s OK.  God is waiting patiently for you.  He can be your hope and your healing, your confidence and your clarity, your surety and your safety, your faith and your future.  When you are ready and decide to trust Him.  “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord” (Jeremiah 17:7).

 

Marie Fremin, 8/12/17

Prayer for the Crossroads

Loving Father,

Thank You for friends who will pray you through. Thank You for the compassion You lavish and the grace You shower on us through these friends. Thank You for bringing us together, so we may encourage and support and sustain each other.

 

I pray for each lady here, Father. I pray that whatever crossroads she stands at, whatever decision she needs to make, whatever pressure is weighing her down – whatever is keeping her from Your best, I pray right now for supernatural strength to stand firm. I pray right now for divine wisdom to guide. I pray right now for an inrush of grace to support and encourage.

Prayer for the Crossroads

I pray that the crossroads becomes a place of great testimony instead of discouragement, stress, confusion, and pain. I pray that the crossroads becomes the next step in her journey with You, a step into peace and health and clarity. I pray that the crossroads becomes a builder of faith and not the catalyst for faltering or failure.

 

I pray right now especially Father for wisdom. We come boldly. We come assuredly. We come confidently. That you see each of us. Hear each of us. Know each of us. Love each of us. Meet each of us at the place of confusion, indecision, and unsurety. Because with You we will be equipped with every heavenly blessing to continue as we need to and assured of Your hand firmly and lovingly on our lives.

 

As we stand at the crossroads …

Let not our faith waiver.

Let not our hope diminish.

Let not our confidence evaporate.

 

Help us to be bold, be brave, and be brazen.

Help us to be focused, be faithful, and be a force for You.

Help us to take action, speak with assurance, and have the right attitude.

Help us to be slow to speak, willing to listen, and quick to obey.

 

Help us to trust You, completely and with full confidence, to guide us into Your plans and purposes.  Help us to trust You, assuredly and with much hope, to show us the way You want us to go.

 

Thank You for always having Your loving hand on us.

Thank You for always knowing exactly where we are and exactly what we need.

Thank You for always giving us a reason to believe for a better outcome.

 

We stand together and believe.

In Jesus’ almighty name.

AMEN!

 

Marie Fremin, 8/11/17

My Week

It is amazing how a spirit of generosity and a spirit of peace will be attacked.

 

I went to Joyce Meyer’s Atlanta conference last weekend.  I kept an envelope for each offering, planning to give as I could.

 

Then I show up to work on Monday, full-up on God.  And it was a domino effect of crazy in my office.  Each day someone went off about something.  A different person with a different issue each time.  And all I could do was scratch my head as I wondered “what the heck?” through each conversation.

 

And then it hit me.  I had done something good for my spirit.  I had allowed God’s Word into my eyes, my ears, and my head.  I had soaked my spirit in His truth.  I had worshiped Him.  And I had purposed to be generous.

 

So boom!  I put a giant target on myself.  I brought myself to the attention of the one who hates worship, generosity, and truth.  So his mission became to counteract everything God did in those 2 days.  And he was going to use anything in my path to pull me away from God’s glory.

 

And that meant …

  • A car repair for a sudden issue not covered by an expired extended warranty.
  • A dispatcher who has gone into “that’s not our problem” mode.
  • An office manager who replied with a harsh, drawn out, and sarcastic answer to a simple permit questions.
  • An owner who wants to know all but then gets mad and criticizes when a potential problem is brought to his attention.
  • An office staff who puts empty ice cube trays back in the freezer and never pulls a full / overfilled trash bag.
  • A whole call center disappearing by 3pm on a Friday without warning, when the office is open until 6pm.
  • An email server change, so the techs had difficulty sending email

 

All seemingly small and insignificant things.  Until you shine the light of Jesus on them, so you can see the dark influences conspiring to bring us down.

 

Because the enemy doesn’t want anything good or true or meaningful to take root in us.  He has an agenda and a purpose for us – and it is all about keeping us as far away from God’s goodness and grace as he can.  He hates light and faith and hope, so he wants to steal them from us.

 

And he did a bang-up job with me this week.  Every time I turned around, there was another attempt to steal God’s goodness from me.  And sometimes the struggle to stay on point was lost.  I succumbed to his temptation to walk a little less straight, talk a little less right, and think a little less true.  I became the bad seeds Jesus talks about in Matthew 13.

 

Matthew 13:3-8Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

 

Notice there were 4 results from the same seed being sown.  We have 4 possible responses to anything we experience – but only 1 of them is true and produces eternal echoes.  And we decide what it will be.  By our choices.  By our responsiveness.  By our attitudes.  By whatever we are intentional about doing, chasing, and thinking.

 

Yet we tend to do exactly what I found myself doing – echoing the ways of the world.

We let confusion cloud our perspective.

We let fear delegate our direction.

We let popularity define our identity.

We let feelings draw and/or obstruct our path.

We let greed choke out our love.

We let circumstances hinder our hope.

We let trials impact our thoughts.

 

When we need to stop, reflect, and let God take complete control.  We need to choose to let go and be still.  No stones in our hearts or hands.  No dry places in our understanding.  No cares in our thoughts and words.

 

Just open hands and an open heart, so we become “the good ground” (23) in which God can always do a good work – in us and through us.

 

So if I want my life to be productive and effective, then I have to learn to stop my tongue and control my thoughts.  And this is a battle I face every day.

 

I didn’t get it 100% right this past week.  No, I didn’t bite back or allow an argument to brew.  But I did do a lot of eye rolling.  I did have many care-full thoughts that wanted to bend to condemnation.  I did try to stand in judgment and compare behavior.  I did have a stressful day at least one of those days worrying about what would happen next.

 

I see where I went the wrong direction.

I see where I didn’t lean toward God’s best.

I see where I let my feelings dominate me.

I see where the darkness stopped my progress.

 

Thank God He won’t give up on me!  Thank God He allows me to learn from my mistakes and bad choices.  Thank God He loves a work in progress.

 

So this masterpiece isn’t finished yet.  One bad week won’t delegate my future or define my identity.  It will, however, draw me closer into God’s grace, allow me to receive His direction, and show me the beauty of forgiveness.

 

So I will reflect on what I have done and how I could do better in the same circumstance.  I will continue to work on being less like stressed out and fearful Israel standing on the bank of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:10-11).

 

That means I need to lean more into the wise advice of His Word:

  • Stop and trust God is in control. Exodus 14:13-1413 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”
  • Stop thinking so much about me and my ideas of right. Proverbs 3:5-6Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own  understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
  • Stop being critical. Matthew 7:1-5 – “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
  • Remember how two wrongs can’t make a right and be quiet! Galatians 5:15 – But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!
  • Remember humility. Galatians 5:26 – Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

 

I didn’t get a lot of this right this past week.  But this coming week is a blank canvas, waiting to be drawn upon.  I will make choices that will add color and shading and shapes.  So Father, help me to do better and be more loving.  Because I know the enemy isn’t giving up on me.  So help me be relentless for You while he is pressing me.  In Jesus’ almighty name.  AMEN!

 

Marie Fremin, 7/30/17

Gracious and Merciful

Who is God to you?

 

It seems like such a simple question, but your answer has deep implications.

 

Is God far off, unreachable and without compassionate?

Is God loving – but only with strict rules and harsh restrictions?

Is God judgmental, disappointed by and condemning of your choices?

Is God absent, never there for you and unaware of your circumstances?

Is God unfeeling, ignoring your pain and unseeing of your tears?

 

Or is God a true Father, One who cares and comforts … no matter what?

 

To me, God is the true father.

Always available.

Always compassionate.

Always forgiving.

Always waiting.

 

For me.

No matter what.

 

Because I choose to believe He is just as He is repeatedly described:

Gracious and Merciful

2 Chronicles 30:9 – … for the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn His face from you if you return to Him.”

 

Nehemiah 9:17 – … But You are God, Ready to pardon, Gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, Abundant in kindness, And did not forsake them.

 

Nehemiah 9:31 – … For You are God, gracious and merciful.

 

Psalm 103:8 – The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.

 

Psalm 111:4 – … The Lord is gracious and full of compassion.

 

Psalm 112:4 –  … He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.

 

Psalm 116:5 – Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful.

 

Psalm 145:8 – The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy.

 

Joel 2:13 – For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm.

 

Jonah 4:2 – … You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.

 

I believe in a God of unlimited compassion and mercy.

I believe in a God of unwavering goodness and patience.

I believe in a God of unashamed grace and love.

 

Just as all these verses describe.

 

How about you?  What do you believe?

 

Marie Fremin, 7/30/17

Gospel of Self

Galatians 1I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

 

I’m reading these words this morning, and I’m thinking ….

What does it mean?  How does it apply to me?

 

Because I don’t think I’m not personally trying to change the words of Jesus.

 

But then I have to be completely honest.  Because I have those areas where I want to “edit” His Word to suit my wants, my emotions, and my brokenness.

 

And so I keep thinking ….

Thinking about my choices.

Thinking about relationships.

Thinking about people.

 

And I’m wondering – do we have a group of modern day believers who are “watering down” the gospel to make it fit what we want (now)?

 

Yes, I think we do.

 

How do I know?  Phrases like “God is/will be OK with ___” or “God doesn’t mind that I ___” or “God doesn’t really mean ____”.

 

And it’s a slippery slope.

One choice made, maybe with a slight hesitation or a momentary doubt.

And sin steps in and sows a seed of discord and disharmony.

Another choice made, usually a little easier than the first.

And sin plants another seed to divide us from God.

 

With each step it gets easier to turn away from God’s best.

With each step we get faster at tuning a deaf ear to God’s whisper.

With each step sin grabs another piece of our hearts.

With each step sin continues to divide us from God’s love.

With each step sin convinces us we are right and deserve to be so.

With each step sin pollutes our thinking.

 

Until one day we have turned “the gospel of Christ” we once believed and cherished and revered into the gospel of self.  Because we wanted something just outside of God’s best and just around God’s grace.  So we pushed for it.  We edged around truth.  We reasoned away right.

 

And then, with each word we recite in our gospel of self, we become disconnected from God.  Without realizing (or caring about) the consequences of our choices, we have turned our backs on God and His direction in going after what we want, we think, and we need.  We have allowed a momentary need to override patience, overtake endurance, and overwhelm honor.  We have made ourselves all-knowing and full of wisdom instead of allowing God to speak into our choices.

Gospel of Self

All because we sought to please ourselves instead of God.

All because we want now instead of waiting for God’s best.

All because we follow our feelings instead of listening to His Spirit.

 

Because every moment of every day there is a whisper within us reminding us that anything in God’s kingdom worth having is worth fighting for, waiting for, and working for.

 

But we tune it out.  Because selfishness is easy.  Judgment is easy.  Gossip is easy.  Anger is easy.  Sex is easy.

 

And the things God calls us to take patience, endurance, and self-control.  Godly love is hard.  Godly forgiveness is hard.  Godly temperance is hard.  Godly long-suffering is hard.  Godly purity is hard.

 

And God has me taking a look at my choices – a hard and honest look.  Because I can be an expert writer of the gospel of self.  I can fill pages about what I want, what I think, and what I know.  But usually those pages don’t contain God at all – no grace, no love, no forgiveness, no selflessness.  And these are God’s goals for me.  Because God wants me to think outside myself and beyond my feelings to have impact, to have influence, and to have (good) intentions.

 

Will you join me and start rewriting your gospel of self?

 

Marie Fremin.  7/10/17

 

BONUS material: Here is a visual of the gospel of self versus the gospel of Christ.

Gospel of Self / Man

Gospel of Christ

What I want Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another (Romans 12:10)
What I feel bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do  (Colossians 3:13)
What I think casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ  (2 Corinthians 10:5)
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy (Matthew 5:43) But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you (Matthew 5:44)
Microwave mentality (NOW)

instant and immediate satisfaction

Oven mentality (BEST)

Investing time for quality

Galatians 1:6

you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ

Galatians 2:5

we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue

Galatians 1:7, 5:7

there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ … [to] hinder you from obeying the truth

1 Thessalonians 5:21

Test all things; hold fast what is good

Galatians 1:10

do I seek to please men?

Galatians 1:4

[living] according to the will of our God and Father

Galatians 1:11

gospel … according to man

Galatians 1:12

gospel … through the revelation of Jesus Christ

Galatians 1:14

being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness

Galatians 1:16

immediately confer with flesh and blood

Hebrews 4:16

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace … in time of need

Galatians 2:4, 5:1

that they might bring us into bondage … entangled again with a yoke of bondage

Galatians 2:4, 5:1

liberty which we have in Christ Jesus … liberty by which Christ has made us free

Galatians 2:12

when [James’ men] came, [Peter] withdrew and separated himself, fearing who were of the circumcision

2 Timothy 1:7

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Galatians 2:13

carried away with their hypocrisy

Matthew 26:41

Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak

Galatians 2:14

you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, … compel Gentiles to live as Jews

Romans 12:9

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good

Galatians 2:16

justified by the works of the law

Galatians 2:16

justified by faith in Christ

Galatians 2:20, 5:16

the life which I now live in the flesh … [and] fulfill the lust of the flesh

Galatians 5:24

those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires

Galatians 2:21

righteousness comes through the law

Galatians 5:5

the hope of righteousness by faith

Galatians 2:21

set aside the grace of God

Romans 3:24

being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

Galatians 3:1

Bewitched … that you should not obey the truth

Romans 6:16

 obedience leading to righteousness

Galatians 3:3

being made perfect by the flesh

Galatians 3:11

the just shall live by faith

Galatians 3:18

inheritance is of the law

Galatians 3:18

God gave [inheritance] to Abraham by promise

Galatians 3:28

There is … Jew [and] Greek, … slave [and] free, … male [and] female

Galatians 3:28

you are all one in Christ Jesus

Galatians 4:3,9

in bondage under the elements of the world … the weak and beggarly elements

Galatians 4:7

you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir

Galatians 4:16

I become your enemy because I tell you the truth

John 8:32

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free

Galatians 5:6, 6:15

circumcision or uncircumcision avails

Galatians 5:6, 6:15

faith working through love … [as] a new creation

Galatians 5:13

use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh

Galatians 5:13, 6:10

through love serve one another … let us do good to all

Galatians 5:15,26

you bite and devour one another … become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another

Galatians 5:14

You shall love your neighbor as yourself

Galatians 5:18

under the law

Galatians 5:18

led by the Spirit

Galatians 5:19-21

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; …

Galatians 5:22-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. …

Galatians 6:3

thinks himself to be something

Romans 12:3

not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly

Galatians 6:8

he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption

Galatians 6:8

he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life

Galatians 6:9

grow weary … lose heart

Galatians 6:16

peace and mercy be upon them

Galatians 6:13

that they may boast in your flesh

Galatians 6:14, 1:24

boast … in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; they glorified God in me

Joshua 1:9

Joshua 1:9 – “ Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

 

This verse was part of my daily devotional yesterday.  And I’ve read it many times before.  But I never noticed or thought about our part that God spells out.

 

God is giving Joshua a pep talk and setting him into motion.  He has had plenty of time to grieve his mentor Moses, and now it is time to get up, wipe away his tears, gather Israel, and march into God’s promised land.  Literally.  As Israel’s leader.  And he saw first hand how Israel treated Moses.

 

So God is reassuring him He is in control.  He will be with Joshua to guide him and help him.  He will take care of Joshua and Israel every day.

 

Joshua just needs to make the right choices every day.

  • Be strong
  • Be courageous
  • Be not afraid
  • Be not dismayed

Joshua 1v9

Because Israel is going to see unbelievable things.  They will be bombarded by fear.  They will encounter giants.  They will be surrounded by obstacles.

 

But none of it will be more powerful or bigger than their God.

 

So they have no reason to fear.

They have no reason to succumb to hopelessness.

They should never be discouraged.

They should never wallow in despair.

 

They need to choose to look at God instead of the giants.

They need to choose to trust God instead of their emotions.

They need to choose to walk with faith instead of being dragged by fear.

 

They need to choose courage.  They need to think strong, stand strong, and speak strong.  They need to decide not to lose heart at the intimidating things they will see and hear.

 

They need to choose faith.  They need to have complete confidence that God will see them through.  They need to trust that God is taking care of them, protecting them, and placing them.

 

They need to remember who God is and what He has promised.  And just in case anyone forgot, He repeats Himself – “the Lord your God is with you”.

 

Your God.  Not any other people.  Specifically you.  I am God with you.  Always.

 

So every day remember ….

No matter what you see and how scary it looks, I will be with you with mighty power and signs.

No matter what you feel when faced with obstacles, I will be with you with peace and strength.

No matter how difficult the battle looks, I will be with you with strategy and victory.

 

And trust Me.  Completely.  Let go of fear, distress, and terror.  Never pick them up.  Never drape them over your thoughts and words.  Never surrender to their wrong influence.  Never follow their misleading direction.

 

Instead, choose to gird yourself with courage.  Choose to strengthen yourself with faith in Me.  Choose to focus on Me and what I can do for you.  Instead of looking at your limited abilities.  Be bold in My name.  Be bold in My power.  Be bold in My promise.

 

Remember I am for you.

Remember I am with you.

 

And choose strength.

Choose courage.

Choose to be fearless.

Choose to be hopeful.

 

Choose to follow Me.

Every day.

And the journey will be a story worth telling.

 

Marie Fremin.  6/28 and 7/9/17

The Shack

I read the book “The Shack.”  Twice.  I also saw the movie … with a friend who also read the book.  We both teared up watching God’s love in action.  For one broken man, lost in his grief and drowning in his anger.  A man who lost much, including his faith.

The Shack

A fictional story.  But one I believe is totally possible.

 

Now let’s stop here for a minute.  Because you may want to argue and fuss and disagree with me.  To convince me I am wrong.  To badger me into changing my mind.  But you won’t.  So please save us both the headache.  I am not asking you to agree with me.  I am not asking you to affirm I am right (or good).  I am only asking you to respect my faith as I respect yours.  I know who I am, and I know who God is – and these deeply rooted truths cannot be swayed with any argument or persuasion.  So if you don’t agree with me about this book, please, let’s agree to disagree – respectfully.

 

Yes, I know “The Shack” is a work of fiction.  But I believe “The Shack” can happen.  Today.  To anyone.  Because I believe in an all-powerful God who performs miracles all the time.  I believe in an agape-loving God who loves us more than we will ever know and works us toward maturity within that love.  I believe in an omniscient God who knows all and therefore knows how to get us to the best version of ourselves.

 

I believe He is a loving Father who meets us exactly where we are.  In our mess.  In our anger.  In our suffering.  In our pain.  In our fear.  In our hardheartedness.  In our apathy.  In our indifference.  In our carelessness.  In our selfishness.  In our angst.  In our hopelessness.

 

And none of this scares Him away from wanting to be with us.  None of this causes Him to leave us or walk away from us.  None of this effects how much He loves us.

 

In fact, I think any of these things compel Him to pursue us.  Because He knows we need Him.  Because He knows only His love can fill in our gaps.

 

Which is, again, why I believe “The Shack” is possible.  Because Mack was lost.  Mack was angry.  Mack was hurting.  And Mack was so wrapped up in his great grief that he wouldn’t let God’s love, mercy, and hope in.  Mack was so consumed in his great anger that forgiveness would never be an option.

 

And Mack’s darkness and anger were so great that he was stuck.  He was clinging to the past and slowly destroying his family in the present.  He was constantly reliving his grief, slowly massacring hope and peace in the present.  He was refusing to forgive and let go, slowly eroding his sanity and compassion in the present.  And as he ruined his present, he was also ruining his future and that of his children.

 

And here is the brutal truth – we are all Mack.  We all have at least one person, place, or thing that has hurt us deeply.  Possibly shaken the core of our faith and caused us to doubt God’s love.  We have all come to the intersection of pain and truth and had to choose which way we would go.  We have all had to wrestle with our feelings that were pulling us away from God.  Just like Mack.

 

And eventually, like Mack, we come to the place where our pain is so great that we have no choice but to face it.  We return to the shack, the place or event that broke our spirit, and we wrestle with truth in the quest to find it.

 

And there we find ourselves.  For we are the shack.  A broken place more prone to darkness than light, with an air of desolation and unworthiness.  A place of pain and sorrow – whether self-inflicted or at the hand of someone else.  A lost place in the middle of a forest, stuck in isolation and separation.

 

And just as God met Mack at the shack, at his lowest point, so too He meets us.  He invites us back to our place of pain – and mixes our tears with His love to sprinkle it over our desert-laden heart.  Where He plants the seeds of love, joy, peace, hope, forgiveness, endurance, steadfastness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness within us – cultivating out the weeds one at a time as we accept His work in us.  And the whole time He whispers “I am especially fond of you” to us, encouraging us to (once again) believe in His love and surrender to His grace.

 

God wants us to love at all times.  Just like He taught Mack.  The man whose hardest moment was having to say, out loud, “I forgive you” toward the man who killed his youngest daughter.  It was so painful for him, having held on so tightly to his anger, to even consider opening his heart a little to let love in.  But he had come to the place, with God’s help, of wanting to be free of the pain that was eating him alive.  So he said it.  And with every step he took from the cave containing his daughter’s body back to the shack, he repeated it.  Praying with each declaration that it would take root in his heart and he would be able to say it and mean it and finally be free.

 

And the best part of the story is that Mack does find freedom.  He does come to embrace the love God so openly and graciously offers him.  The love that he realizes never left him.  The love that inspires him to go back and live life to the full.

 

And so too can we.  As individuals.  And as a group of believers.

 

Because we are each part of God’s story.  We are included in His chapters of love, grace, hope, and forgiveness.  We are worth redeeming.  Just like Mack.  Just like the shack.

 

So if you didn’t read the book or see the movie, here’s my takeaway – God loves you.  More than you can ever imagine.  Mack is proof.  His story may not be real, but God’s love always is.

 

Marie Fremin.  6/4/17