Last night I was reading the #1 New York Times Bestseller The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity by Wm. Paul Young. The jury is still out on what I think of the novel, but I find parts of it intriguing so far. If you read it, I recommend getting through the first third of the book. After that it begins to get intriguing and plays with questions of images of God, religious assumptions, suffering, relationships and new life.
One line from the book struck me. As the main character and God are conversing about various things, God says: “This isn’t Sunday School. This is a flying lesson” (p.98). What an image! What if we could view all religion, all spirituality, all relationships from the point of view of this metaphor? They’re all about flying! They’re all about being lifted up beyond the pain that sometimes befalls us in life and learning to fly again. Our relationship with God is NOT about following this or that rule it’s about learning to fly! It’s about learning to live well! Of course, any pilot will tell you that there are things you have to learn and do if you are to fly. But that is not about rigid adherence to rules. It’s about learning to live well, making good choices so that I feel as if I take flight. It is about calling on the power of God within and trusting it, trusting that it is with us and will carry us through anything. Now, we’re not going to “feel” it all the time, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t there.
Some of my friends know that I have gone through a bit of a difficult time the past couple of years. I have struggled much. A few weeks ago, I sat down and tried to meditate, having “felt” no connection with God, or others for that matter, in quite a while. I felt that this was such a waste of time. I didn’t feel any better. But I kept going back to meditation anyway, if even sporadically. One day, wondering about the pain and difficulty of the past couple of years, wondering why I was even doing this and if there was any Power out there to help, I softly heard these words: “It was then that I carried you.” I look back now . . . and indeed I see only one set of footprints in the sand. Indeed, I was still flying, still being lifted up, even though I didn’t feel it.
What strikes me is this: if I had not meditated, if even sporadically, I never would have heard those gentle words, which were the catalyst which is giving me some thrust, some wind, as it were, as I slowly stretch out my wings again and learn to fly.
In the book, God says to the main character who has been deeply wounded: “Mack, pain has a way of clipping our wings and keeping us from being able to fly. . . .And if left unresolved for very long, you can almost forget that you were ever created to fly in the first place” (p.97).
I pray that we all know that we were created to fly; that we have the courage to slowly spread our wings again. And even when life is difficult may we know that “it was then that I carried you.”