You never know which moments, words or events will be important to people. A man buys flowers for his wife, for which she is thankful, but she remembers the smile on his face, and the fact that his shoes were untied. A child on a vacation to the Grand Canyon remembers the laughter of the family at 3 am on the way back. History is even more unpredictable. What moments, what events, what words matter in the long run? Who can know? Only time will tell. While our beloved media tries with all of its cunning to make certain moments weighty, there is something real that is larger than all of us, and somehow we know it when we hear or see it, and when we don’t.
While I would not claim to be a prophet, I would hazard a guess as to one of the great moments in our time—at least for the Western world. I have heard recordings of President Roosevelt’s address after Pearl Harbor, and President Kennedy’s famous speech as well. And I have listened to Martin Luther King’s freedom address, and watched in serious respect when Barak Obama spoke in the aftermath of Rev. Wright’s publicized diatribes, and recently I watched Sarah Palin’s amazing speech at the Republican convention, yet for my money the most important moment in the West in the last one hundred years was when a fictitious broken-hearted, angry, and cynical white man named Mackenzie met God face to face. And God—appearing as large black woman— ran to embrace him, lifting him in an eternal hug (See William P. Young’s, The Shack). That moment spoke and speaks volumes, and it speaks to places in our souls that we would rather pretend do not even exists. It is way to scary to let ourselves believe that God could be so good. So we settle. We just don’t have a theology to go with our heart’s knowledge.
Mackenzie’s daughter had been kidnapped and brutally murdered, and he had grieved his heart out. Blaming himself—and God—he lost life. Then he got a note from God to meet at the shack where his daughter had been killed. At length, and with not a little hesitation, he set out for the shack. With doubts whirling, he opened the door. The shack was a bleak as his absent god. The years of hurt proved their point. Mack left convinced that his absent, judgmental god was real. But something happened on his way back to his truck. To his shock, life blossomed. Amazed, he walked back to the shack and stood on the porch. Not knowing what to do…
Mack decided to bang loudly and see what happened, but just as he raised his fist to do so, the door flew open, and he was looking directly into the face of a large beaming African-American woman.
Instinctively he jumped back, but he was too slow. With speed that belied her size, she crossed the distance between them and engulfed him in her arms, lifting him clear off his feet and spinning him around like a child. And all the while she was shouting his name—“Mackenzie Allen Phillips”—with the ardor of someone seeing a long-lost and deeply-loved relative. She finally put him back on earth, and with her hands on his shoulders, pushed him back as if to get a good look at him.
“Mack, look at you!” she fairly exploded. “Here you are, and so grown up. I have really been looking forward to seeing you face to face. It is so wonderful to have you here with us. My, my, my how I do love you!” And with that she wrapped herself around him again (William P. Young, The Shack, pp. 82-83).
“My, my, my how I do love you!” Who doesn’t want God to be this way? Who doesn’t want to be so loved and embraced, so cared for and cherished? Yet who dares risk hoping in such in such a God, and in such love? So we settle, believing in the god of our broken imaginations, the faceless, nameless, judgmental, omni-being watching us from a distance. For the one thing we all know for sure is that we are unworthy.
Yet, nevertheless, somehow we know that the God Mackenzie met is the utter truth.
The one who bore our bitter scorn—suffering our abuse to meet us and to embrace us as we are—is the revelation of the Father confronting the god’s of our broken imaginations. Jesus says, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
“And with that she wrapped herself around him again.”
It is okay to believe in Jesus' Papa.