Detailed below is an interview with William P. Young author of THE SHACK and James Robinson, on his TV show Life Today. James and Betty Robinson are solid believers who teach the Word. Watch Here
James: Thank you so much. Welcome to LIFE Today. I’m James Robison.
Betty and I are thrilled to have an author of a book that really caught me off guard. It was handed to me by some construction workers in Tennessee.
I happened to have led the father of these young men to the Lord and his name is John Ring. He had built a platform for me to speak on in Gallatin, Tennessee, north of Nashville and he’d decided to stay around to see the show. Stayed around and found Christ after I gave the invitation over 30 years ago.
He said to me, along with his sons and some of his friends, another wonderful communicator, James Ryle, they said, “This book has kind of turned our community inside out. It seems to be something people can’t put down, I’d really like you to read it.”
I get four or five books handed to me every few days and I read a lot. I said I’ll look at it, “The Shack.” Normally, I read several books at a time; I don’t usually read one straight through. But within 48 hours, not only had I consumed it, it consumed me.
I found out later “The Shack” is representative of where people get stuck in their life. Stuck, something has happened and we’re stuck. As a matter of fact, when I heard that term “stuck” I began to go back and wonder, where did I get stuck? Terrible childhood, no father, alcoholic, dumped around and I began to realize, I’ve kind of been stuck.
But in “The Shack,” the main character meets God in the shack where he was stuck. It is absolutely transforming.
Well, the author is here, Paul Young.
No Christian publisher would publish this book, too cutting edge, too startling, too challenging. And then the secular press, too spiritual. So it was published by a couple of people with faith and now they can’t keep it in the bookstores — hundreds of thousands of them and it will go into the millions.
We want every person watching to read “The Shack” because you’re stuck somewhere and God would like to meet you where you’re stuck.
I want you to welcome the author, Paul Young, to LIFE Today.
Paul, good to see you.
Paul: Great to be here! Hi Betty!
James: Well, I don’t normally fail to express my feelings about something and I’ve already opened by telling you that it really got my attention. I want everybody to read it.
It is not without controversy, we’re going to talk about that because you’ll be in a couple of programs with us and it sort of rattled some people’s cages and as far as I’m concerned need to be rattled.
I really have an understanding of religion being potentially dangerous but relationship is magnificent if it is a relationship with the true and living God who fills us with love, who is a God of love, as powerful and mighty as he is. So you really do shake some things up.
But I called you after reading the book because I was curious about the author. You told me some interesting and startling things. Are you interested in sharing them with our viewers?
Paul: My background is I’m a missionary kid. I grew up in Christian Missionary Alliance; one of the greatest mission organizations of this last century.
Paul: After leaving the mission field I was the preacher’s kid. Canadian born — still a Canadian. I live now in the Portland, Oregon area. My wife, Kim, and I have been married almost 29 years and we have six children and two new grandbabies, which is great.
As you said, “The Shack” is a metaphor for the place where you get damaged or where you’ve damaged other people. You hide your secrets there, you hide your lies there and you don’t want to deal with it.
We want to have a relationship where God jumps us from new birth to almost perfection and it is like we don’t want to deal with all of this stuff. For me personally, it took until I was 38 years old before I was willing to go to the shack, and then it took me 11 years to go through it. Those 11 years are squeezed down into a weekend for the main character; that’s the background to it.
The pain in the story is very real. My shack has a lot to do with the fact that sexual abuse started very young within the culture that I was a part of, and then unfortunately, at the mission boarding school. When you deal with the issue of love in your life, you tend to go either toward rebellion or you just don’t care and you know you can’t keep the rules or you go toward religion, the two brothers in the prodigal son story. It tends to be that the religious brother doesn’t come back as quick as the other brother.
I went the performance route and I just kept this thin veneer of perfectionist performance, religious performance, and underneath it was this ocean of shame; that coupled with really being disconnected.
There was a time in missions, where as wonderful as the outreach was and the things they accomplished, there were generations that didn’t even know they had baggage and they tended to take it with them. If they did know it they wouldn’t have known what to do about it.
Baggage is something you tend to dump on whoever is the weakest around you. A lot of the time, unfortunately, children get the brunt of that.
Plus, you had a call, you had a goal, you had a vision, you had a mission and sometimes you run so hard at that you run past your kids and you run past your spouse and you run past your friends and you even run past the people that would intersect the process of your life.
So I was very disconnected from my parents. I grew up for the first part of my life thinking I was black because I was basically raised a doni, which was one of the tribal people. I heard the conversations they had when they discussed whether they would kill my parents or not; but I knew I was okay.
The first four months after coming back from boarding school I called my mother Aunt Betty because that was the name of the white woman who took care of the girl’s dorm.
Going to boarding school was the first time that I really suddenly realized that I was white and it was a huge disappointment — kind of still is a little bit. There is a movie about that, in fact. No, we won’t go there.
But the disconnect and the culture shock and then being yanked out of there and put back into the western world, which I didn’t understand at all, without healing any of this damage that was beneath the surface; then you just become a performer and at the same time, you hold all of these pieces of your heart that have been broken, you hold them together by any way you can and a lot of it is by lying, by presenting one thing but knowing that there is a mess underneath the whole thing.
So, basically, I held it together all the way up until I was 38 years old. Then it all just blew up. When that happened, what God did for me –. It really was a set up, even during all of that mess he continued to show up. Part of the miraculous nature that he is, is that he is not embarrassed by us. Jesus is not ashamed to call us his brothers, and he knows what we are like. And in the midst of all that he still showed up.
I prayed that all this junk would be dealt with. Legalism never changed me one bit, it just forced me to pretend like I was good at it. I found that legalism is not even — those who are good at it, don’t do it very well either, it is just a matter of time.
James: And the better they do it, the meaner they get.
Betty, you were — I’ve called you the original church lady. You were just so good but you had a performance –
Betty: Oh, absolutely!
I was sitting here going oh, yeah, I recognize that. I too thought that being good and doing everything the right way was how to be, quote, a Christian, a church member; and if I didn’t, God was really going to get me.
So therefore, I was afraid of God. Yes, we’re supposed to fear God in a reverence way but not to be afraid of God. God loves us. He is jealous for us.
Paul: I got a letter from a gal in Atlanta who is going through stage four colorectal cancer. The chemo and everything else just buried her into a deep, deep depression.
A couple of her friends, missionaries that I grew up with, went to her house and, with her husband, read the first chapters of “The Shack,” to her. Then together, Jenny and her husband continued to read it. It yanked her out of her deep depression.
She wrote me an e-mail and I think you’ll understand what she said. She said, “Paul, I wasn’t afraid to die. I was terrified of the look of disappointment on his face when we met.”
I think a lot of us are afraid of God because of this performance-oriented shame-based religious system we’re a part of. These are the glasses we look through. It is all about our performance and we’re constantly guilty. You’re only as good as your last moment of perfection.
James: Some of our most effective preachers seem to be the ones who can make the crowds seem to feel the most guilty and even get a response but never a change, never a release of love.
One of the points in this incredible meeting in “The Shack” where people are stuck and where Mackenzie Philips meets God at the place he is stuck. You have God portrayed in a very unique fashion, which rattles a lot of people’s cages, shakes them up and you have Jesus and the Holy Spirit all of them are there.
And one of the things that God says is that he was a little disturbed about the fact that people seem to like Jesus but they didn’t seem to like him, Papa, God; they didn’t seem to like him. I think a lot of people don’t like God but they see they could like Jesus, and yet Jesus said if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the father. He is the one who makes clear everything in the Old Testament and gives us understanding through all that’s written in the New Testament.
Without Jesus as the screen through which we read both Old and New Testaments, you can’t possibly see truth.
Now I want to continue with your journey because you really shook me. You were so into performance and so into religion but so out of relationship with God; so disconnected, so to speak, that you actually failed.
And then you told me about love coming back through an individual. Can you just touch on that?
Paul: In 1993, I had been teaching, I had been on staff at churches, I’d been to Bible school and I’d been a couple of years at seminary. So here I am and trying to hold this all together and that kind of damage breaks you into pieces. You’re constantly trying to present the best but there is failure underneath.
And then what totally shattered this veneer was a three month affair with my wife’s best friend. During that time, she notices that there is distance growing so she goes to her best friend for counsel. On January 4th, 1994 she calls and says, “I know. And I’ve talked to the other woman.” And she said, “Run away,” which was a pattern in my life.
I’d been to 13 schools before I graduated high school and running away –. You can always hear God call you somewhere else when somebody starts poking a hole through this little persona. And for me, it was either shoot myself or face it.
What saved me, the set up was a woman named Kim Young and it was the fury of her love that beat the crap out of me, frankly. And she didn’t stop until I dealt with everything. That took two years, which was real intense.
It took me two years to lift my eyes off the floor; I couldn’t look a human being in the face, except for a therapist who became a friend, Scott Mitchell. Kim forced me to deal with everything. It was the fury of her anger that pushed me to the edge until I had no hope left. That’s when God intercepted me totally with just miraculous individuals placed at the right moment to come say the right thing.
Then Scott worked with me through the process. There is an incredible story here. Scott was part of a group that specialized in victims of sexual abuse.
I sat in front of Scott the first time I met him and I said, “Man, I’m at Point A and I’ve got to get to Point Z and I have no idea how to do it. I don’t need anybody asking me, ‘How do you feel about this?’ I need somebody who knows how to get me from here to there. Do you?”
And he said, “Absolutely, but it will take a year and a half.”
I said, “I’m in.”
He said, “Well, let me warn you. After a couple of months you’re going to feel more in control, you’re going to feel like things are better, you’re going to feel like okay, I’m okay. That’s right before the really hard stuff. That’s when everybody bails out.”
I told him, “I’ll tell you what, I will not leave this process until you tell me I’m done.”
And nine months later he said, “You’re done, Paul.” He’s said, “Nobody’s stayed with it or worked this hard.”
And I said, “Well, it is either that or shoot myself.” I mean it really is desperation.
Over that period of time, Scott and I became good friends. To leap forward, to use a metaphor of the shack, I come out at the end of 2004. That’s really when I come out of the shack. I’m in there from 1994 of January 4th to the end of 2004. And right near the end of 2004, Scott goes home one day and his oldest son, high on methamphetamines, mistakes him for an officer and shoots him dead. I mean, it was so raw, I couldn’t go to the funeral.
I get amazing e-mails from people about how the book is just touching their lives. A few weeks ago I get an e-mail from a woman that I don’t know and she writes and says, “Paul, you don’t know me but I want to tell you how your book has helped our family through a great sadness.” She said, “In 2004, my oldest son shot and killed his father, Scott Mitchell.”
I sent an e-mail and said, “Connie, would you please give me your phone number. I want to talk to you.”
She did and I called her. I said, “Don’t you understand that if it hadn’t been for Scott, the book would not exist.”
She said, “You know when you asked me for my phone number, I said to my brother-in-law, ‘I wonder if he is not one of Scott’s boys.’”
And here this man who helps me through my stuff brings me to a place of wholeness that I can write this story that then is now helping their family, including their oldest son, through this great tragedy in their own life.
Is God great or what?
James: And you saw, personally, the love of God ultimately through your wife, through Scott, through others. You saw the God that meets you in “The Shack.”
Here is what I think you need to understand. This is one of the things that he makes very clear, God talking here in this conversation with Mack, and that is that God really didn’t establish institutions, not even the institution of marriage; he establishes relationship period.
No marriage is going to hold up because it is an institution. You can go to most marriages, you’ll end up an institution if you don’t understand what a real meaningful relationship is and that means God’s in the middle of it.
One of the things that comes through clear in the book is that God is not something added to your repertoire or your resume or your little collection of values. He is the center of your very being; he is the center of your life and your existence.
I really want you to read “The Shack.” I’m praying that every person that is listening to me — I’m praying that every person on the planet will read it because it is going to shake people up. People are going to discuss it.
We’ll talk about some of the questions that come up in the next program but I want you to read it because I want you to know this God that is so real who revealed himself in Jesus. Somehow we have missed him because we’ve seen so many people who are religious and talking about God and Jesus but you don’t see him. I want you to get it.
By the way, it is not like how many months or how many years it takes me to get unstuck, it can happen like it did to Paul on the road to Damascus. But he did go out and spend three years in the desert getting to know Jesus. So don’t lock God into a time frame. It won’t always be microwave fixes. Sometimes it takes a process. I like instant deliverance, I don’t like to tame appetites, I just want to be freed from them. But sometimes we need to learn the taming process so there is a lot to learn.
I want you to have this book. We’re going to give the book to those of you who give life, who give water. We’re just going to send it to you. You can go to the bookstore and buy it. They’ve got them, run down there and get it. But we’ll send you one if you’d like to have it or you can go online and get it if you’ll just help us give someone a cup of water, give life. Just help us provide something for someone. We want to bless you.
I want you to watch this because I think you’re going to be moved by what you see. Watch closely.
On the field:
James: Can you believe this?
Betty: James, this is unbelievable — incredible. They’re trying to wash this plastic so it will be clean enough for them to sell so they can make money to provide for their family, to buy just the necessities, food, anything to survive.
But yet, then they’ll come later, dip this water up and drink it.
Think about it, every time you go to the sink to get a drink of water, do you look in it to see if there is any contamination in it? Do you look in it to see if anything is crawling around? Of course you don’t!
Well these people see that day after day after day. They don’t have to examine it, it is just so evident. As you look around here at all the garbage, it is just incredible. Yet that is all they have. You have to have water to survive for even a little while. When these babies are born and this is all they have, how do you think their chances are for making it to adulthood? That’s where we can make the difference.
So please join with us. Let’s give them those water wells so they can have the clean water.
In the studio:
James: What a pretty, pretty little child. I went over a few minutes later and sat down by one of those shacks, just held a precious little girl in my arms. You know as I held her and I think about holding them, I really love them. It is not some kind of an act. I just love them.
It would be so terrible to hold that little child and say, “I love you but I won’t put forth the effort to give you any clean water even though we could.” Nothing right about it.
I don’t want to talk to people about a love that has no affect and no expression other than just church talk. I want to love them.
You know what we found? Betty, we found our viewers in Australia, the United Kingdom –
And by the way, Germany, thank you! It is amazing to me.
Scandinavian countries, Canada — thank you, Canadians for touching us.
Thank you, all of you in the United States for your compassion.
But Betty, we have found viewers who say, “I want to give a cup of water.” We’ve got couples and viewers in churches and little kids that say, “I can drill a well!” And then they go out and raise the money to drill them and they cost $4800 each.
But people give a part of it; $48 will give ten people Water for Life. Everybody can do something. How important is it for those ten people when you give the $48? Look what it does! Everybody can have a part.
Betty, we found 100 areas like that area in Central America that we were talking about where wonderful, compassionate mission workers and relief workers say, “We need a well here. There is water here; we just need to drill it.” I just think our viewers are going to do it.
Betty: I do too! Without any hesitation I believe you will. I want to personally say thank you because I know you’ve given over and over again to the needs of those that need this fresh water to survive. You have such big hearts and I want to thank you for that. Because you have big hearts, I know you’re going to want to give yet again another cup of water.
So please join with us and let’s do that right now because they desperately need it.
James: Well, we’ve got 100 areas that we want to drill the wells in, $4800 each. You might say, “I’ll take one of them.” If you as an individual or a couple or perhaps as a church leader or maybe a kid say, “I’ll do it.” If you can give the $4800, would you do it right now? You’re giving life.
You can call, use your bankcard like it is a check. You write a check, make it to LIFE but let us know you’re sending it. You can go online, lifetoday.org and make a gift that way. But we need everyone, as I say, to do your part sharing God’s heart, extending God’s hands. Would you right now dial that number? Would you make that special gift? There is no gift too small.
By the way, oftentimes people who can’t give $4800 will give $1200 and pray three others join you and they will and we’ll have the $4800. Or your gift of $48. Many people give $144 which provides 30 people water for life; there is some level everyone can participate in.
Those who give $100, we’re sending the beautiful collection of books like Philip Yancey’s, “What’s So Amazing about Grace?” Beth Moore’s, “Breaking Free.” I mean it is a classic. And then John Eldredge’s new book, “Walking with God.” Sheila Walsh is talking about, “Get Off Your Knees and Pray.”
And we’re sending the book “The Shack” to every person. I’m telling you you’ll get unstuck in the presence of God. We’re sending this for any gift you make to help us give life and love by helping drill these water wells.
Would you make that call right now? Would you make the gift God puts on your heart?
We want to bless you with gifts because we love you and you’re going to be blessing others with fresh clean water and that’s going to be a miracle for them.
Thank you so much for making that call. If you get a busy, you be persistent and call until you get through.
Narrator: Mission: Water for Life is set to drill 100 new water wells this year in 12 drought and diseased-stricken nations throughout the world. Your gift of $24 will help provide clean water for five people. A gift of $48 will help provide clean water for ten people. $72 will help provide for 15 people and $144 will help provide fresh clean uncontaminated water for 30 people for a lifetime!
With your gift of any amount, be sure to request your copy of “The Shack.” This extraordinary work of fiction by author William P. Young will help you discover God’s path of freedom for your life and lead you to a life of fullness and intimacy with him.
With your gift of $100 or more, you may also request life’s summer reading collection, four inspirational books carefully selected by James and Betty to enrich your life, including Philip Yancey’s, “What’s So Amazing about Grace?” “Walking with God” by John Eldredge, “Get Off Your Knees and Pray” by Sheila Walsh, and Beth Moore’s, “Breaking Free.” You’ll also receive “The Shack” as a special bonus.
And finally, with your gift of $1200 to help provide water for 250 people or a gift of $4800 to help sponsor a complete well, be sure to request our commemorative bronze, “The Lion of Judah.” This magnificent sculpture by Scott Stearman is a beautiful reminder of Jesus as the king of kings.
Please don’t delay! Call, write, or make your gift online today!
James: Well, Betty and I just want to say thanks so much for giving a cup of water in Jesus’ name. Thank you for sharing the love of God.
“The Shack,” get it in the bookstores or we’ll send it to you. Tell your friends to read it. It will challenge them but it may transform their lives.
You want to say thanks again to Paul Young for being with us?
Paul, thanks so much for being here. Thanks for your availability to God.
Paul: Thanks for the water!
James: Tell your friends to watch LIFE Today and thanks for helping us share water.
Narrator: Tomorrow, the author of the popular book “The Shack” tells his story.
Paul Young: If there isn’t this relationship in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit then we’re out.