The Shack (hence the picture of the book next to the picture of his face). Until today, that didn't mean a whole lot to me. I haven't finished the book yet -- I started it quite awhile back when everyone was abuzz about it (who even says 'abuzz' these days? Sometimes the 86-year-old inside of me can't be contained). But, life being life, I never got around to finishing it, and now I have to start it again.
Because today I met William Paul Young.
As you probably know by reading this here blog, I attend Granger Community Church, and have for the past eight years. From time to time, they bring in a celebrity or two, and we get to listen to their stories. Some are adept at speaking, some are not. I'm always wary at the beginning when I'm not familiar with the speaking style of the person on the stage, but today I wasn't just pleased. I was inspired.
Paul walked up on stage to a standing ovation, and he stood there applauding God, back to the congregation, giving up all the glory which at once impressed me. That was just my first glimpse. When he turned to address us, it was with such ease that I felt as though I was sitting with him in my living room over a cup of coffee while he told me stories about his life.
In turn, he touched my soul.
The piece of thread that wove everything together in the stories was that (and forgive me for paraphrasing -- I wish I had the mind of that girl in "Unforgettable"!) there is a God who is good all the time, and He is intimately and intricately involved in our everyday lives. Everything he said was what I have always believed -- nothing happens for no reason. Nothing evil in this world was given to us by God. He loves us in an unfathomable way, regardless of whether we choose the right path or the wrong one, and there is nothing we can do to separate us from that love. We were, as individuals, a part of the plan from the beginning of time itself. I wish I could make this sound as vivid and real as Paul did while I sat there listening.
When he talked about his journey writing The Shack, I listened with probably even more rapt attention than I did everything else (and believe me, THAT was pretty rapt attention as it was). I have been working so hard on my own journey -- the writing, the inspiration, the infertility, the spirituality -- and just knowing that God worked in such a complex way in Paul's life gave me renewed hope that He is yet working in the same complex way in mine.
After the message, I normally zoom out, regardless of the speaker, but something told me to hold back and meet this man. Instantly, I was glad I did. He was warm and caring, he gave an embrace to everyone he met. I didn't want to take up much of his time since there was quite a line behind me and I didn't have my copy of the book with me to sign, I really just wanted to meet him. I would have most certainly stayed to watch the message again if I had the ability.
Please visit Paul's website, WindRumors, and if you are in the Michiana area, get to GCC tomorrow at 9:30 or 11:30 to see him in person. If not, don't miss the message online this week -- just click any of the GCC links on this page.
Paul, if you did happen to read this, thank you so much for being God's vessel and letting Him inspire us through you.