Well. I've now met the man about whom so much has been written and so many have have been warned. I didn't just meet him, I had a meal [along with a dozen other of my family members] with him and I watched him interact with the waiters and waitresses which in my book says more about a person than any other thing except perhaps his interaction with his own wife and children.
I heard him speak several times and watched as his time and attention were requested by hundreds of people anxious to get a book signed or speak a word with him over the course of a couple of services. I watched him look at them as they spoke to him. I watched him give undivided attention which is so unusual for so many speakers who are often seen moving away or looking around obviously communicating their desire to end and lack of interest in the conversation being participated in at present.
I watched him as he met and conversed with three of the four of Mary and my children, their spouses, and some friends. [Only one of my daughters could not attend as she and her husband were caring for twin grandsons for a couple of days.] I watched as my granddaughter, a highschool student who isn't particularly in-to meeting new preachers, was captivated by the simple and real interest showed her though there were plenty of adults present at the time.
I watched. I confess to being a watcher of people. I'm also something of a cynic when it comes to popular preachers who are obviously making a lot of money or getting a lot of accolades for what they are doing in ministry. My trust level of professional Christians is at an all time low. I've spent some time now recovering from the pain of pretense that has been ripped away to show a darker side to many men in ministry whom I have admired. The thing that has saved me from perpetual cynicism is the honesty which has forced me to see my battles with my own "Shack." [Baggage or flesh] But I AM a watcher as a result and that is where things are with me. You can tell I'm as concerned with a man's character as I am his doctrine. BOTH are significant but I wouldn't give you the time of day for one without the other. So I did watch. What did I see? That is my report to you.
I saw a man.
He's not really much of a man in size at all. I like being around him because he's one of the few that has to look up to me physically. I'm 5'9" and he's 5'7". I'll stand next to him any day. But the great thing is he doesn't think he's anything special. He really views himself as being an ordinary kind of guy who is an "accidental author" as opposed to an "on purpose author." [Remember he wrote 'The Shack' as a Christmas gift to his six children two years ago all of whom are in their late teens early twenties.]
Now remember I watch. I watched as he really did think of himself as ordinary. Some I've watched proclaim themselves to be ordinary but when treated that way are quickly offended that they aren't treated as special. We had an ordinary hilarious time with ordinary jokes and stories with ordinary people genuinely enjoying each other around a large table in and extraordinary fashion.
I saw a message.
I use this funny sounding phrase because it describes what I mean completely. I heard him speak the gospel. Perhaps the clearest I ever hear except when I hear Wade preach or when I hear someone one on one simply tell of the Father loving so much that He sent His Son who did the work sufficient for the Father to be justified in lavishing Grace on people who don't deserve it and the Holy Spirit creating life and sight in dead and blind people so they can respond and see that reality.
I heard him articulate the biblical concept of the Trinity as I see it in scriptures in a fashion that has convinced me that the knowledge of the Trinity is one of his strongest points of biblical theology.
[Notwithstanding his fictional and metaphorical creativity that enabled him to get across aspects of the character of God in 'The Shack' in such a way that people who have been turned off by all false religion including a false christianity or have been wounded by religious people are being opened to God's love and justice combined in the Person of Christ and the Cross event in ways I've not seen in years.]
But my wife said it best when she told me she felt she had SEEN love as she watched [she's a bit of a watcher herself] that accidental author relate to people. How odd!! That's what was said of those early Christ followers was it not?
I saw a miracle.
There is no explaining what has happened with this somewhat ordinary man with a somewhat ordinary desire to leave a written record of his own spiritual journey through pain most of which was caused by others and some of which was caused by self.
To me, it is a miracle he can be so honest. To me it is a miracle he can take the unjust criticism. To me it is a miracle that a book which is, as one of his daughter's friends said, " Way beyond your dad," could be propelled into closed nations, closed prisons, closed minds and closed peoples to the place where seven million could be produced when it all started with fifteen copies printed at Office Depot for a few family members.
I guess the greatest miracle of all is that an Extraordinary God can take a ordinary person and do unbelievable things. Maybe that's exactly what being a Christian is all about. You think?