And now the ending … We have covered many interesting issues in our study on The Shack. In this episode, we conclude our study by going through (quickly) through the last 5 chapters of the book.
How will the story end? How will Mack now approach his life after this amazing encounter with the Holy Trinity?
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“The Shack – Ending” Show Notes
Sarayu helped Mack see that emotions are neither bad nor good in themselves, they just are. They add color to life but are generally a response to perception, so when based on right perceptions can be very good things and when based on wrong perceptions can be harmful. The point is to be living in truth in the first place. And truth is that knowing God isn’t about following “rules” and knowing the right answer, but about knowing the Living Answer. The Ten Commandments were a mirror to show humanity how dirty it was and bring them in humility to God who saves from that filth, but instead became something which humans used to gain independence and control and the power to judge others. She explained how “responsibility” and “expectation” are words full of law, fear and judgment and have no place in God’s relationship with mankind. Instead of responsibilities which would be duties to perform, God gave abilities to mankind, namely the ability to respond to in relationship to Papa. And instead of expectations for mankind, there is an expectancy with no concrete definitions – it’s an excitement and hopefulness about what that relationship will bring. It’s the difference between nouns and verbs. Nouns are dead, verbs are alive and active. On a final note, Jesus pointed out that he didn’t want to be at the top of the pyramid of values in Mack’s life, rather he wanted to be the center of the mobile from which all aspects of Mack’s life are connected.
Sarayu opened Mack’s eyes so that he could, for one night, see what they (God) saw. He saw a beautiful spectacle of lights and color that emanated from living beings as they gathered together, each one full of colors unique to them. One particular being kept erupting in uncontrollable light and color – it was Mack’s father who was so overjoyed to see Mack he couldn’t contain himself. Mack embraced his father and apologized and said he loved him and noticed the darker colors of his father’s being were were changed to blood red. Jesus entered the throng of people who had been clearly waiting for him, told Mack he was “especially fond of him”, and Sarayu and Mack were alone again as his sight was once more human.
The next morning Papa, now appearing as an older man with silver hair and a goatee, woke Mack, explaining that Mack was going to need a father for what they had to do. Papa took Mack on a hike out into the woods where he showed Mack a red arc that was painted on several rocks – signs the killer used to mark his trail. Papa led Mack to a cave that contained Missy’s body so that Mack could bury her and have the closure he had so often asked for. But, before they reached her body, Papa asked Mack to forgive her killer. He explained that forgiveness does not necessarily mean he and the killer now enter into a relationship, but that Mack no longer holds on to his hate and unforgiveness. It’s not to forget it happened, but to love him in the face of it. Papa reminded Mack that her killer was one of his creation too, one he also loved and hurt for and would like to redeem. So, as Mack carried Missy’s body down the trail, he verbally declared over and over, “I forgive you”.
Missy’s body was buried in a casket that Jesus made for her, the details of her life carved into the outside of the box. Jesus said that Missy helped pick out the carvings, one of which was the ladybug pin the killer left behind. Sarayu told Mack they would bury Missy’s body in the spot in the garden which he helped clear only the day before. Sarayu sang a song as they buried her, one that Missy wrote just for the occasion. Mack’s tears watered the soil and a tree of life grew up at her gravesite, in the garden of Mack’s heart.
Papa presented a choice to Mack, he could remain with them (and consequently get to see Missy) or return home to his family. Either way, Papa promised they would be with him always, though maybe not as tangibly as they were currently if he chose to return to his family. Mack asked if his choice mattered, if it made no difference, he would stay. But Papa said that everything mattered. So, Mack decided to return home in hopes of being able to make some difference to his family, to the world.
Besides, if he didn’t return, he would be adding more pain and sorrow to his wife and children, and that he didn’t want to do. Because he had chosen to return, Papa gave Mack a little insight into the pain and struggle going on in Kate – she thought it was her fault Missy died, because it was her actions which tipped the canoe and set the whole train of events in motion.
After dinner, Mack fell asleep and awoke to the cold dilapidated shack with Missy’s blood stains that he had been in days before. He began the drive home, happily thinking how he would begin to tell Nan and the kids all about his time with Papa, Jesus and Sarayu, when a car ran a red light and plowed into his.
Four days later, Mack awoke in a hospital. The details about the shack were a bit fuzzy until Willie reminded him about the note and his purpose for going out there. Then his memory began to come back. He and Nan started to share their sides of the story. Nan told him that the accident happened on Friday night, the day he headed out to the shack, not on Sunday when he thought he was returning. But Mack assumed it must be one of those instances where God is out of time. Nan listened to his story and through time began to believe. The thing which sealed her believe was when Mack was able to finally put Kate at rest that nothing was her fault and unlock the pain and guilt she had been living in.
Mack decided to tell Tommy, the officer who had helped him in the search for Missy, about his experience with God and ask Tommy to help him go to the cave in search of her body – Mack suspected that her body might still be there, despite having buried it with Papa. Following the red arcs, Mack led Tommy right to the cave, and Missy’s body. The police were able to locate the other bodies of girls whom the Little Ladykiller had killed, and the killer himself, based on the clues they found at Missy’s cave.
Mack is testifying at the Ladykiller trial, hoping to visit with the man accused. He is hoping for a revolution revolving around Jesus in the world, centered on love and service. Willie says his life has been changed by this story, and whether it’s completely true or not, he wants it to be true.
“The Shack – Ending” Episode Resources
In this episode I mentioned several resources, including:
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