Paul Young came to an important personal revelation: there’s nothing to lose by living a life of faith and trust.
20 Million Copies
Paul is the author of The Shack. Over 20 million copies sold. The book was turned into a successful film featuring Octavia Spencer and Sam Worthington. (watch the Netflix trailer here.)
The Shack clearly connected with a wide audience and stirred up controversy. I was part of that audience. Controversy is not something people like Paul would shy away from. After what he endured, controversy is the least of his pain.
At the heart of the book is the most difficult of all theological complexities: the goodness of God and the problem of evil. How can a good God allow the kinds of horrific evil that humans and other creatures experience? Why doesn’t He do something to stop it? Why does God seem so unconcerned about suffering and injustice? Especially when that suffering occurs in the lives of the innocent and vulnerable.
Those questions were personal to Paul. Intensely personal.
“You can read The Shack as a story, but my intent was always more than that; a parable laden with metaphor. It is a true story, but not real. The shack itself represents the house on the inside that people help you build. It is the human heart, the uniquely crafted soul that can so easily be torn from its moorings and left to flounder in the waves of a storm-tossed world. Some of us had good help building the house of the soul. Many of us did not.”
The shack in the woods is a metaphor for the house people build inside themselves to store secrets, addiction, and shame.
Paul initially printed just 15 copies of the novel for his family. He used the book to exorcise his pain over being repeatedly sexually abused as a young boy by tribe members in New Guinea.
At ten months old, Paul’s family moved from Canada to the highlands of New Guinea, now West Papua, to pursue work as missionaries. Young says he was sexually abused by members of the Dani Tribe and then later again at his boarding school.
“Our parents, barely adults themselves, endured staggering workloads that allowed little time for anything but ‘the call.’ Too often, the children of the mission were left to fend for themselves until they were old enough to be shuttled off to boarding school at five or six, where it was wrongly assumed that at least there they would be safe.”
Paul says, “it took fifty years to find that little child hidden in a closet deep in the basement recesses of a broken structure. It is me that God loves, with all my losses and hiding and devastating choices.
And it is you that God loves. You and me, we are the ones that Jesus, along with his Father and the Holy Spirit, left the ninety-nine to go find. This love is relentless, and we are not powerful enough to change it.”
If you live in Edmonton, you can hear Paul in person on May 10th. He is the keynote speaker at this year’s Little Warrior’s luncheon.
If you would like to learn more or purchase individual, virtual, or table tickets for the luncheon, please visit here.
Have you read the Shack? What do you think about the book? Please leave a comment below.
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