Breakfast With God


Jesus, man, God, the Holy Spirit

Madison Galloway, staff writer

Thinking back to my childhood, I can still see in my mind the pictures that Sunday School and nightly Bible reading painted for me. I see bright rays of sunshine and a throne above everyone else, so high that the throne is difficult to see. The seat that God sits in is made of pearly white marble and carved to perfection; the seat is embellished with intricate designs, too fancy for any human. Looking up, God’s children are trembling as they watch judgement fall upon them like drifting papers that cut into their delicate skin. I still remember the image of Jesus that was inscribed on my brain at a young age, too. Limp and weak, Jesus hung from a wooden cross drenched in sticky blood and pulled down by a physiognomy full of pain. This Bible character seemed helpless and in no condition to lead. Images of the Holy Spirit from long ago still dance in my mind. The Holy Spirit looks like the spirits who visit Scrooge from the movie, A Christmas Carol. He is a ghostly character who only comes around to haunt believers, scare them away from sin, and warn them of future damnation; instead of filling believers with Godly wisdom, He fills them with fear of Godly judgement.


With my childhood images in one hand and a jumbo popcorn in the other, I walked into the movie theater to watch The Shack. Early in the movie, we see that the father of the little girl receives a letter signed “Papa,” and we later learn that “Papa” is the nickname that Nan, the mother, gives to God. The letter invites Mackenzie, the father, to the shack where his daughter was murdered. Frustrated, Mack goes to his neighbor, Willie, to ask if the letter is some sort of prank. Eventually, Mack persuades Willie to let him use his four-wheel-drive truck. When Mack reaches the shack, he finds that no one is there, and he starts to slam things and scream. Walking out of the shack, Mack meets Jesus, but at the time, he thinks that this is his daughter’s killer. Confused and exhausted, Mack follows this easy-going man into the woods.


The snow-covered forest suddenly transforms from a winter wonderland into a glistening jungle full of flowers and greenery. He follows Jesus through this jungle in disbelief and finds himself back at the shack, which has transformed into a cozy cabin; he goes in and meets “Papa” and the Holy Spirit. He stands in amazement as he looks at these three people and wonders where they were in his time of need. As Mack stays in the cozy cabin, he gets to know each piece of the Trinity.


God’s character is an African American woman. Wow, I know. Seeing God as a woman was amazing. Throughout Mack’s stay, he sees that Papa is in the form of a woman because they knew Mack was not ready to handle a father figure yet because of his past; this shows us that God can be in whatever form we need him to be at the time: mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, healer, coach, and teacher. Papa is not a king-like character who is only there to criticize and correct. Instead, Papa comforts and cares for Mack at this critical time in his life. The first night at dinner, Mack accidentally says God’s name in vain and immediately jumps to apologize to Papa. Papa brushes off the swearing and lets Mack knows he is already forgiven. The God image that is portrayed in The Shack is more like the vision of God the Bible wants us to have.


The Holy Spirit, Sarayu, is a soft-spoken Asian woman who guides Mack into healing instead of pushing him there. When Mack first spends time with Sarayu, she takes him into a flower garden. Tall flowers and bushes of every color tower over Mack as he walks into the garden. The garden is a mess, but the garden is a beautiful mess.  Sarayu tells Mack that they must dig up a plant that is in the middle of the garden, and that they must get every root out of the ground. The way that she is talking to Mack about the plant shows us that she is speaking of much deeper things than roots. Through this garden, that the Holy Spirit guides Mack to, she is able to guide Mack into the healing that he needs; she is able to explain to him that they must pull out each root. God wants us to view the Holy Spirit in this way. We should see the Holy Spirit as a gentle spirit who softly nudges us to go to the altar on Sunday morning and who swiftly pulls us from temptation on Saturday night.


Jesus then invites Mack out for a walk on the water, but tells him he can go ahead and take the boat out that Jesus will be a little while. When Mack is out in the water, a storm starts and the boat begins to sink. As soon as the water starts to fill the boat, Mack hears Jesus’s voice telling him to look at Him. Everything goes calm once Mack trusts in Jesus, and Jesus asks Mack to come onto the water. Later, Mack asks Jesus why connecting with him is so much easier for Mack than connecting with the other two, and Jesus replies by telling Mack that that is the the reason – He is human. He is an example for us to follow because he is so much like us. Jesus is not only a broken Bible character who hung on the cross; Jesus is the One whom we follow. Jesus meets us in our storms before the water gets too high.


The Shack may be strange and out-of-routine for most churchgoers because the images we see are much different from what church usually paints for us; however, the differences in this movie do not make it heresy. The pictures that dance in my mind after watching this movie make me so excited for Heaven. I cannot wait to plant flowers with the Holy Spirit, walk on water with Jesus, and have breakfast with God.