What would it be like to apply the Law of Three to The Shack.

You could say that affirming force, the pushing, the initiating, belongs with Papa and co., with the whole love of God doing the only thing love can do which is reaching out in love and widen the circle.

Denying would be Mack’s wounds, his deep devastation at what’s happened with the brutal murder of his youngest daughter Missy.

What then is the reconciling force that allows the impasse to break up? You could say that it’s Mack’s surrendered heart. For me the crucial moment in this book comes early on when he gets the note in his mail box from Papa, the typed note that says meet me, it’s been a while since I saw you. And rather than just sort of throwing it over, there’s something in him that is still alive and warm. He realizes very clearly that he has to surrender to the possibility.

Remember that incredible line from St. Paul “love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” To “believe all things” doesn’t mean to be an idiot. It’s to recognize that in every situation, there is always a higher way of acting and a lower way of acting. There’s a way of acting that can open a possibility, and leads things on. And there’s a way of acting that closes things off and shuts the door. To “believe all things” in the context of love means to always act in alignment with the higher possibility. And that’s what Mack does here. It’s not a question of whether God could actually type a letter. His surrendered heart intuits that that’s the higher possibility.

What the new arising is then of course is the resurrected life where on all fronts, across the board, there’s healing.  His soul is healed. His religious doubts are healed. The anguishing question mark of what became of his daughter is solved. And he’s able to take this and move out into the world and with it actually get action and fill in the missing pieces of the case.

That’s a completely paschal configuration.

I you look at the crucifixion, it takes exactly the same configuration. “God so loved the world” is the affirming force.

The denying force is the hatred, the angry, cruelty, and darkness that Jesus becomes the scapegoat for.

And the third force there is Jesus’ surrendered heart, “Not my will but thine be done oh Lord.” And out of that is resurrected life.

The Shack is deeply and archetypally a Christo-centric book, a playing out of the ancient and beautiful paschal mystery.

Applying the Law of Three here allows us to break it open in a more spacious perspective to see the lines of action that are working in it rather than get hung up on whether God’s a black woman.

You could also say that affirming is Mack’s love, his unbreakable yearning love for his daughter and for the reality of love he tasted there.

The denying is the great sadness, the depression, and the sorrow, and the helplessness that have dropped down on him.

The reconciling force is Mack’s wife (Nan) who throughout the book has a constant continuing on in her faith. And she’s the one who introduces the word for God “Papa” which, without even really knowing it, is Jesus’ word and is exactly the word Mack’s heart needs to hear in order to move forward.

Nan, plays the role of reconciling force in this story which allows what was an impasse between what looks like a hopeless love and a hopeless sadness to resolve in joy.