My mentor sent me this book the other day and asked me to read it. I knew why he wanted me to read it, or I thought I knew. I imagined that the book was an attempt to get me to grow closer to God. That’s what I thought. When I received the book, I put it at the top of my reading list and began reading right away. The book drew me in so fast; the story amazed me. I wanted to confirm what my hypothesis about why my mentor had chosen this book for me to read.
Before I go any further it is important that I let you know that if you ever come across a book called, The Shack, I would recommend you read it. I read a lot of books but this one took me to the depths of which many will never reach. It made me explore those parts of my soul, spirituality and identity in ways that only the hand of God has done before. This isn’t a book for Christians or believers, it’s a book for all walks of life.
I won’t spoil the plot of the story or the book for any of you. I would rather tell you a story. It’s a story about how I became the way I became and how I relate to this universe in my spirituality.
I grew up in the church. I had all the pieces that are needed to raise a child; I was deeply rooted in the church, I had a praying mother and I had a praying grandmother. I accepted the Lord into my life at a young age. I sat in Sunday School at the age of six learning about God, Jesus and the love that he had for me. It was after a lesson and I felt compelled. I’ve always been a very cerebral and logical person and even at a young age, I was intrigued by God. One day, the intrigue went away and I heard the voice of God saying, “This is real, this is me, I’m here.” I knew God was with me and he was with all those around me. I knew that without him nothing around me made sense. How could I be so loved when everything around me was not in order? My Sunday School teacher returned to the classroom to find me sitting in my seat saying that I wanted to know more about God and what his plan was for me. I just understood that not only was there a God, but that he loved us so much that he sent his Son to die for our sins on the cross.
I was baptized a few weeks later and became a faithful disciple of the word. As a child I would read everything I could get my hands on, literally everything. I found the stories to be powerful and insightful. I couldn’t get enough. I read scripture, I led prayer, I sang in the choir, I gave God my talents on the piano and let him guide me. Everything was going as planned until my freshman year of college. (I should say now that I should apologize to my mentor that he’ll likely read this and may have never heard this part of the story.) My freshman year of college, I lived on the multicultural living and learning community floor in my dorm. I met people from all walks of life, backgrounds and faiths. I always thought that by engaging in conversations with believers, whether Christian or other, it would help me build a better connection with God. Unfortunately, it didn’t work that way. While I was able to be a soldier for Jesus, I found myself questioning why I was learning all of this now. I was troubled and it affected my faith. Each Sunday I would attend church on campus, but I felt that somehow I had been done a disservice. I had been taught that anything that wasn’t through Christ to God would result in hell. I phoned my mother at this time and began to tell her what was going on with me and urged her to not tell a soul in my family.
Of course she didn’t. My grandmother began calling, my aunts began calling and I even received a letter from my Pastor. When I returned home, I met with my Pastor and I asked him why I hadn’t been taught about all the other religions of the world. He had few answers but to say that the Holy Spirit had touched me and wouldn’t touch everyone. He told me that through prayer, if it was in God’s plan for those who were non-believers to know, they would see the Light.
Despite all of that, I still didn’t feel right.
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