My son’s English class just finished reading The Shack and I mentally reviewed the story as the weeks went by. While many debate the literary value or theological accuracy of this allegorical tale, within the pages I still come face to face with the reminder of how much God loves us and is willing to meet us wherever we are in our personal journey.
The main character, Mack, grew up being abused by a hypocritical, Scripture-quoting dad. Therefore, the religious idea of viewing God as a father brought along a truckload of negative connotations. So “Papa” shows up to meet Mack at the shack (the middle of his deepest pain) as a lovable black woman instead, and helps Mack work past his emotions to find healing … until eventually Mack sees Papa as a more traditionally cloaked silver-haired man with a beard.
Just like we all come from different backgrounds that influence our choices (see last week’s post), our faith impacts our personal story. Is faith a Sunday-only fix or a daily experience? Is the Word of God a constant source of meditation-laden nutrition or a pop-a-quick-verse vitamin supplement? Is prayer an ongoing conversation or only used in case of emergencies? Is faith lived out every day in real life situations or considered a nostalgic relic of the past like a visit to grandmother’s house? Is faith embraced, or questioned, or even rejected?
Since I write inspirational fiction, including the faith element is essential for the market I’m pursuing. But faith itself is simply another part of my characters’ background. It’s part of what makes them believable as I create stories that readers can relate to and learn from.
What about you? Does your faith background influence your current decisions? Why or why not? Do you prefer reading about people who doubt God or those with unshakable faith?