If you’ve read my adventure posts on #CodesGoesAbrodes, you’ve probably realised by now that I like metaphors. This is another (though I did actually sleep in a shack on the beach one time… But this isn’t about that.) I figured it was a little empty here, which I’m a little bit bummed about (because of my own fear and laziness). So I figured this would actually be a good place for this post, as it isn’t as much of an update as it is the next chapter hand-written in my story. And I would love to share it with you. *warning: this post may contain trace amounts of emotion, trickled with my heart in full view.*
I recently (today) read a book that made me cry. More than once. Actually, I pretty well didn’t stop the whole time reading it (which was like 10 of the last 24 hours – I couldn’t put it down). But these weren’t tears of sadness. Or really of joy either. I think they were just tears of recognition and companionship in the sense that I really connected with the main character and what he was experiencing. Not because of similarities in circumstances, but of the lessons he learned and people he was impacted by. I guess I just got so swept in because I imagined myself experiencing those moments with Papa myself (another main character in the book). The book is called The Shack by William P. Young. It is a story about a man named Mack who’s youngest daughter is kidnapped and murdered in a shack in the middle of nowhere. The police and Mack find the shack the night it happened, but not the body. He spends the next few years in what he calls The Great Sadness, until he finds a note which reads, “Mackenzie, I’ve missed you. I’ll be at the shack next weekend if you want to get together. -Papa.”
I’m not going to tell you much else about it as it is a book you need to read for yourself. (It is also being turned into a movie coming out this March, 2017, so you can watch it, too.) However, I do want to say a few things about how it impacted me.
As I sat reading these encounters between Mack and Papa (and two other incredible characters), I couldn’t help but hear Papa’s voice in my own heart, teaching me the same lessons. This is where the tears come in… Any time at all spent with Papa is absolutely fulfilling, life-giving, rejuvenating, peaceful, restful, and invigorating all at once (and more). This book has (re)taught me to very intentionally seek out times to spend with Him, His Son, and His Spirit, as they are the most important times of my life. And by soaking in those times, I can then go back into the world refreshed and breathe life into the people around me. If even one person is affected, then I will be more than satisfied. But I know that Papa has more than just that in store for me.
Which brings me to my own emotions and heart… With scars all over my heart, body, and mind, I remember my own pains. I remember my insecurity, my fears, my anxieties, my loneliness, my own Great Sadness. And I remember the hand of my Papa on all of those things, redeeming them for good. The “Shack” of my heart is a place of deep loss and hurt, but the Papa I know can (and did) take that shack and transform it into a place of restoration, pitching a tent for Himself, resolutely declaring never to leave, and making a place for others to come and rest in my shade.
That is my redeemed shack. That is my “Missy Project.” To come alongside those in my life and provide for them shade, shelter, support, care, gentleness, wisdom, peace, and most importantly, love. But not just any love – Papa’s Love. The love that has completely transformed my life, and continues to change me and mold me more into the image of His Son every day. And I can’t wait to tell you about it.
You have scars. You have hurts. There’s a shack in your life, whether it be physical or metaphorical, and Papa wants to meet you there. Not to condemn you, not to bring back those hurts, not for anything but to show you how much He loves you and the power of His healing, redemptive love that He has poured (and is pouring) out on you. You know where that place is. I’d invite you to go there, with no presumptions, just having asked, “Papa, please meet me.” And He will. Oh, yes. He will, my friend.
I will not hide my heart from you. I know that some of you reading this will have no clue at all what I’m talking about. And who this Papa is. And some of you know exactly who I’m talking about but regard me as some kind of lunatic. Which is fine. But I would like to say, regardless of what you believe or think about this, I would absolutely love to pray for you. If you would like my to pray for you, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Let me know how you are and how I can pray for you. Or your mom. Or your friend. Or “some guy I know that’s totally not me).” Please email me. I’m here to listen and to love. Tell me your story and let me embrace you. Or if not me, then someone. Don’t let your hurt sit inside you forever, it’ll never go away until you let it. And you will never shine your brightest until you wipe the dirt off; the easiest (and hardest) way to do that is to let someone wipe it off for you. Because, as Papa said, “Life takes a bit of time, and a lot of relationship” (The Shack, 92).
All that being said, this place I’ve been in the last 8ish months has been sort of a shack for me – not in that it is a place full of hurts, but rather a place where I have met with Papa and found incredible healing. A place that I will hold dear in my heart for the rest of my life. A place I will long to come back to. Because I have spent many hours just being with Papa in this place and have learned a lot about my own hurts, scars, and how to forgive the ones who put them there (especially myself). I have learned how to spend time with Papa; not just read the Bible or pray, but really be with Him. And I have come to crave these times. They bring such joy and fulfilment to my heart and soul. I hope that you have found, or will someday find, that place for you that you can spend time with Papa, because He so longs to spend time with you.
With grace and peace, and much love I write to you, my friend.
*I do not own the rights to these images. Found ’em on Google… Sorry artists, whoever you are. You are deeply loved and appreciated, and I wish I could give you credit.