Who is God to you?

Brenda Cannon HenleyBy Brenda Cannon Henley
If we have been in church, Sunday school, Bible classes, or individual study for long, we probably have learned the most well known facts about God the Father, Christ the Son, and the dear Holy Spirit, or the Trinity. Many denominations differ somewhat in their beliefs about the exact roles each play in our Christian walk, but generally agree in the main time honored beings that make up the three-fold Trinity.

William Paul Young, outstanding author and speaker, took a lot of heat for his choice of physical descriptions and the characters he chose to represent or portray God, His Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. They were particularly vivid in the movie, which was a smashing success at the box office. Traditionalists took to their pulpits, air waves, and written missives denouncing Young’s interpretation. Some went as far as calling him a heretic for not advancing the more commonly accepted personifications of the members of the Trinity.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Young twice and found him to be kind, down to earth, and very knowledgeable about Scripture in general and salvation in particular. He had a very rocky relationship with his own father and did not choose to portray Father God in the book or movie as a stern father figure cracking down with hard wrath on any misdeed or wrongdoing. Instead, he chose to portray Papa God as a kind, rather large black woman that had been good to him as a child. He remembered her freshly baked cookies and a home always welcoming to the neighbor children and adults. She could be stern, but had rather be kind.

In both the book and movie, Jesus was very believable as a young, talented carpenter who was easy to friend. I saw love, loyalty, and life by way of this character. The Holy Spirit was a young woman, beautiful, filled with joy and kindness. She loved earthly beauty – flowers, streams, animals, people, and music. Her goal was to guide, instruct, and comfort.

I don’t intend to give away the story line or the ending. Reading The Shack twice, interviewing Young twice, and hearing him speak to a spellbound audience did not sway me from my beliefs. However, my eyes and heart were opened to new thoughts and ideas as to how others might see the same God I love and serve.

Young did tell me that the movie especially tends to cause viewers to think the entire presentation took place over one weekend when he visited the shack. In reality, it took place over a two year period while he and his family were dealing with a personal tragedy. The manuscript collected dust in a drawer for a long while before a friend urged him to have it published.

He also shared that he had no funds to pay for the publishing and he and his friend maxed out their credit cards and shipped the books from his garage for the first year. The second year, eight million copies were printed and shipped around the world.

I ask you to think – Who is God to you?

Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788, or
brendacannonhenley@yahoo com


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