Lessons from “The Shack”

October 20, 2008

One dark night before the harvest moon I nestled into my comfy corner kitchen sofa chair and devoured a book. It was perfectly timed to speak to me as I needed to have my soul replenished in order to continue encouraging others. Combining season tends to elicit many calls from unsettled farmers who have contemplated their lives over many long hours of thrashing swathes.

William P. Young’s book The Shack was written to encourage his family and has become a huge word of mouth hit. The subtitle reads “where tragedy confronts eternity.”

I won’t give away the plot, but I will tell you that many folks suffering under the stress and tension of un-forgiveness, feeling unloved, and weary in their faith, should read this fictional book. I sometimes wonder why families are so hard on each other. As a farm family coach, I look for tools to help them realize that they have choices to make, and options to explore.

The Shack was a great inspiration to me because it reminded me again about the amazing power of forgiveness to set our lives free. It also reflected the love of Jesus and God in new ways that help me embrace others around me with the gentle, unconditional love modeled by Christ.

You may be struggling with family issues that seem insurmountable. It may be that your children don’t have the same beliefs as you do, and you are sad. Your own self may seem bruised and in need of healing.

I don’t normally spend precious reading time on fiction, but I am glad my daughter brought this book into our home. I believe that books can change your life!

Are you paying attention to what other folks who love you are asking you to read?
Do you honour your own well-being enough to feed your hungry intellect?
Can you explore new ways of looking at your world in order to find some solutions to your weariness?

Farmers typically find it hard to ask for help or share what they deeply know needs to be done. One fellow who survived a heart attack recently is seeking ways to have more open conversations with his family. He started plans for finding solutions before the attack, and he is thankful he has a second chance to work out his affairs. I am thankful for his resilience and attention to putting “first things first.” He is looking for new ways to bring his family into harmony with a vision for their future. He is reading my book, Planting the Seed of Hope, for ideas on connecting to his family. Books can give you answers in the privacy of your own home or truck.

If you have experienced great loss like The Shack’s main character Mack, you will have a key strength to walk along with others who are also facing the challenges of letting go, grieving, and dealing with loss. I used a few tissues while I was reading. I am not embarrassed to shed a few tears that actually make me feel better when I re-visit past losses evoked by a powerful story.

I celebrate another birthday next week, and I am deeply thankful for good health, rich relationships, and a loving God who takes a special interest in me… and you. Use the time you have been given to reflect upon ways you can embrace your family with the love of God. Seek to be reconciled so that you will be rich towards God and rich in a relationship.

Regardless of the harvest that you collected, bountiful or lean, the things of this world won’t matter after you are gone. As Christians, we have been given a great gift of unconditional love, and that is The Shack’s key lesson – that our world needs to know and embrace.

If you want to find out more about this amazing book go to


Elaine Froese empowers farm families to understand that they have choices and intentional plans to take action on. “Your farm . Your family. Your choice.” As a certified farm family business coach she travels the prairies to share tools to kick start succession plans.

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Workaholics will discover helpful strategies for managing their time stress. Gain understanding for the tensions of your age and stage on the farm. Learn why some problems are not solvable, but just need to be managed as polarities. Self-renewing people are joyful and productive producers.


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Ashley Hoppe, Farm Partner
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Shannon Gilchrist, “Get Farm Transition Unstuck” online course participant
“My hubby farms with 2 brothers and parents, and it’s become a really toxic place. No communication, no respect, etc. Twelve months ago, my husband’s brothers told him they don’t want to work with him anymore and offered him a pay out. His parents did nothing to stop it! He had no choice but to leave. Three months later, we moved off the farm and into town. He has been offered heaps of jobs and is now truck driving and carting hay and grain. We have tried communicating with his parents about what happened but they are not interested. So basically my hubby has lost his family. Very sad but we as husband and wife are overall in a good place and moving on to create our own life. Please continue on with all your wonderful work in helping families on the farm. I continue to tell any farmers I know about you, that they must ‘google’ you, and read your books.”
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