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Please, live in the present

My daughter Estie sent me the following quote from The Shack. My own opinion, incidentally, of those who have a theological problem with that book’s basic conceit is that they need to get out more. Really, folks, can we just allow the right-brained writers among us a poetic m…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

My daughter Estie sent me the following quote from The Shack. My own opinion, incidentally, of those who have
a theological problem with that book’s basic conceit is that they need to get out more.

folks, can we just allow the right-brained writers among us a poetic
moment or two? Life is complicated – we need the soft light of
allegories to illuminate its more opaque spots. William Young, in
writing The Shack, took on some of life’s toughest issues – grief,
justice, and forgiveness among others. And he did a creditable job.

Listen to the testimonies that people are sharing. That book has arguably done more to promote healing than any other book in
recent memory other than the Bible and some of you oppose it? Honestly.
Pilgrim’s Progress
plowed similar allegorical territory as a life-changing bestseller over
300 years ago. So here’s my word to the oh-so literal critics (it’s
late as I write this and maybe the cheesy music videos from yesterday
are making me a bit too direct): Hey, get over yourselves.
So here’s the excerpt:

Jesus chuckled. “Relax Mack; this is not a test, this is a
conversation. You are exactly correct, by the way (humans were designed to live
in the present). But now tell me, where do you spend most of your time in your
mind, in your imagination – in the present, in the past or in the future.”
Mack thought for a moment before answering. “I suppose I would
have to say that I spend very little time in the present. For me, i spend a big
piece in the past, but most of the rest of the time, I am trying to figure out
the future.”
“Not unlike most people. When I dwell with you, I do so in the
present – I live in the present. Not the past, although much can be remembered
and learned by looking back, but only for a visit, not an extended stay. And
for sure, I do not dwell in the future you visualize or imagine. Mack, do you
realize that your imagination of the future, which is almost always dictated by
fear of some kind, rarely, if ever, pictures me there with you?”
Again Mack stopped and thought. it was true. he spent a lot of time
worrying and fretting about the future, and in his imaginations it was usually
pretty gloomy and depressing, if not outright horrible. And Jesus was also
correct in saying that in Mack’s imaginations about the future, God was always
“Why do I do that?” asked Mack.

“It is your desperate attempt to get some control over something
you can’t. It is impossible for you to take power over the future because it
isn’t even real, nor will it ever be real. You try and play God, imagining the
evil that you fear becoming reality, and then you try and make plans and
contingencies to avoid what you fear,” (pg. 177).

Estie spoke for many when she said: “It rocked my world and is helping to shape the way I think about my
past, present and future. I am learning to surrender with ruthless trust to
Christ’s hope for me. Thank you Lord!”

Comments (17)

  • YES!!! I just quoted that portion of the book at our women’s retreat on Saturday. In my mind, one of the biggest fears I had was “What if my husband lost his job?” Even when he had cancer the first time, my first fear was, “What if he can’t work and earn our living?” I guess I did not imagine God in that scary future scenario.

    And here we are, my husband has lost his job, AND he found out last week he needs chemo again for lymphoma. And guess what? God is HERE with us in this, no longer future, but PRESENT scenario. He is here in a way I could not have imagined, giving us a peace that makes no sense at all, even kind of an excitement to see what in the world He is going to do with this mess.

    Thanks, also, for affirming that what I experienced when I read that book this summer was not just a falling for “easy theology”, even deception, as some of the critics would accuse me of.

  • Just LOVE this book – blesses my socks off! It did what Walter Hooper used to say about CS Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles: “it creeps past those watchful dragons of childhood preconceptions and stained glass windows” and lets you glimpse, as if a new thing, the reality of Christ.

    I used to “worst case scenario” in my head. Spent a lot of time having discussions and debates with people who weren’t there, thinking I was working through the worst possibilities and therefore ready for anything. God told me to stop it a year ago. I asked Him why, what exactly I was doing that was a problem to Him.

    He said “It’s how you worry. If you are worrying, you are not trusting Me.”

    He was right (there’s a surprise!!). It was how I chewed things over that were bothering me, particularly things around problem people or situations, or the future. Repented and gave it up. Now find it is way way easier to trust the God Who already knows the future and has a plan in hand if I will only wait for Him to work it out. His plans are always WAY better than mine!

    lol Carol xxxx

  • I love spending one foot in the present and one in the furure…not sure if this book is for me but it sounds a great read!

  • I haven’t read this book yet, but the excerpt does remind me of a section in the Screwtape Letters. You hear two devils discuss how if they kept us focused on the future that we would be ineffective and how that was their goal.

    “There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against the Enemy (God). He wants men to be concerned with that they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them…It is your business to see that the patient never thinks of the present fear as his appointed cross, but only of the things he is afraid of…For real resignation, at the same moment, to a dozen different and hypothetical fates, is almost impossible…”

  • normally if lots of “christians” like a book, I try to stay clear … but this book seriously is good. so much of what i needed to hear.

  • Almost done with the book (up to 175 after just a day :-), and am enjoying it. I like Jen Schwab’s comment and quote from Screwtape Letters (that is a classic!).
    Glad it is reaching so many people…. I have had 3 folks who don’t consider themselves strong Christians now invite me to dialogue about itnow that seems like a ministry tool.

  • This book “The Shack” may very well have saved my life by bringing me closer to the Lord. Anyone who needs a “faith” boost should read this book!

  • i have continued to wonder, why do some people talk about what god will do as if they know the future and what gods going to do in it. they also talk about what god has done, ok how do they know god did it and not them. to give god credit doesnt mean he did it at all. i am not saying god didnt do it, but if any human effort was involved and a human did something and something was done, the person did it not god.
    i will acknowlege god when i can, but only when a person could have had nothing to do with something happening, its not as if were are totally incapable of doing anything without god regardless of some poeples personal opinion(sometimes known as personal conviction – but how is that not an opinion when not everyone is convicted of the same thing they are)

    my question and concern is this
    i live in the present as in right now
    i dont live in the past anymore
    and cannot literally live in the future
    i cant live one minute let alone 30 seconds from now
    when the 30 seconds come it wont be then it will be now
    and when it passes it will be the past

    i really would like to have a personal relationship with jesus if i have to
    what i need to happen is this
    jesus doesnt relate to me
    he doenst talk to me
    he is never in my presence
    same goes with the holy spirit
    never have they talked to me
    and this notion that some have i am listening
    yeah i used to be duped
    not anymore
    if he doenst talk i dont here
    also this other idea that he talks so so softly
    ok if you need for anyone to hear you
    SPEAK UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    not doing anyone any good if you whisper is undetectable
    im really serious here and on this

    bottom line
    it will never be personal
    and always religious
    its not who i am to jesus or the holy spirit
    who is he to me
    he needs to talk to me
    not me to him!!!!
    this one way relationship
    which to me its not
    will never be real
    again it needs to be more than an imaginary friend
    an religious imaginary friend
    excpetp i dont belive jesus was religious

  • Okay, so now I have to read this book! I just spent two days flying around the panhandle of Florida for Ron, a radical follower of Christ and a local business man who is looking at some business deals down there. He mentioned this book but has never read it…but this guy lives his life this way, he doesn’t worry about the next 5 minutes…fear of the future…fear at all just does not exist in him. It was inspiring to see his faith and his trust in God’s control over his life.

    As we flew home yesterday in really bumpy conditions, the guy sitting next to me in front wasn’t feeling well at all, but Ron was sleeping like a baby…not a care in the world. He reminded me of Jesus asleep in the boat while the storm was raging and the disciples were freaking out about what was going to happen to them…the future. Mark4:40 And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

    Lord I do believe…help my unbelief!

  • I concur…I just posted something about this book on my blog today. Everyone should read it; those that don’t “get it” should read it twice.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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