Thanks for your patience. I am making my way back from a long journey of writing and completely refurbishing our house. There are several things in the works, which I will be writing about soon. The main project has been my book The Shack Revisited, which I am pleased to tell you will be available around the world in October, published through Faith Words, a division of Hachette. Meantime, it was published in Brazil by Sextante Press in September, and in four months reached number 11 on the non-fiction, best-seller list. Not sure how to handle that, but, 'Thank you, Holy Spirit, we will have more please' is definitely in order. It is clear that the spiritual climate around the world is changing. People are tired of the emptiness of religion, and they are open and hungry for the truth. What could be more beautiful? The ancient gospel is being recovered and people are ready to hear it.
Over the last year I have been reading and re-reading a good bit of the great George MacDonald. His book, Unspoken Sermons, which has been republished by Regent College Publishing as Christ in Creation: Unspoken Sermons of George MacDonald, edited by Roland Hein (available on Amazon), is so beautiful it is beyond words. I read several of these sermons years ago, perhaps all of them, but I was not ready to appreciate what our brother was saying. He grew up in harsh world of Calvinist Scotland, with an exceptionally loving father and and equally harsh school master. His life long question related to holding together the love of Jesus' Father with what is called 'the justice of God.' Unlike most of those of the growing liberal persuasion in his day, MacDonald was not willing to throw out the hard passages of Scripture to fit the softer God of the day. So what you find in MacDonald is an extraordinary vision of the Father heart of God—the best I have ever read anywhere—with an equally extraordinary vision of the fact that this Father will never let us off with anything—again, the best I have ever read anywhere. We must be clean, MacDonald would say, else we would never enjoy our Father and life in his house, and what Father would want that for his children? Who really wants to go to heaven only to hide from the Father? That is a rather honest and huge question. What emerges in MacDonald's thought, through some 50 plus novels, fairy tales, sermons, lectures etc, is a picture of the self-sacrificing nature of the blessed Trinity for our benefit, and a sacrificing love that demands that we have not a feather of evil in us so that we can enjoy forever the life of the Father, Son and Spirit.
"All that is not beautiful in the beloved, all that comes between and is not of love's kind must be destroyed."
For MacDonald, judgment is not vindictive punishment for sin, the overflowing wrath of a disapproving deity, but a discerning, and a dividing of our false selves from who we are in Christ, so that we may live. All that is alien in us to the trinitarian life of God has to be removed. The judgment of God is the same as his mercy, love and goodness. For what merciful God would ever allow us to be miserable in our darkness? "If a man refuse to come out of his sin, he must suffer the vengeance of a love that would not be love if it left him there." Jesus alone (not the church) is able to discern the demarcation between what we have become in our darkness and sin, and who we are in him, and he will strike his mark in patience, tenderness and grace. No doubt it will hurt, but it is a good hurt, a redemptive hurt, a burning unto real purification and life. So MacDonald does not throw out hell as an anachronistic bit of religious superstition; he gathers it into his vision of the determined Father heart of God. It is redemptive. We will be ready for the glory given to us in Jesus. Thus we must be discerned in utter love—and righteousness, holiness, justice, mercy, truth. We will be brought to the place where we run to Papa and beg him to judge us to the core of our being, for nothing will be more precious to us than life his house, life with Jesus and in the free-flowing fellowship of the Spirit.
How we get there from here lands us in the center of the ministry and the mystery of the Holy Spirit, the lover or our souls.