Monday, July 30, 2012

My Interview with Paul Young - ICRS Orlando - The Shack and Crossroads

I had the unique privilege of interviewing Paul during the International Christian Retail Show in Orlando.  What a precious man of God.  He shares his heart and lives in the grace of the day God has given him.  God has taught Paul many lessons of grace throughout his life, and to listen to him share what God has done in his life! I'll never forget it! I hope it ministers to you as well.

The Shack – after all the conflict over your first novel, is it easier or more difficult to continue writing?  I had absolutely no expectations about future projects.  I’m at a point in my life where I am content to stay within the grace of one day.  I don’t even know if I’ll be alive tomorrow.  Why would I create imaginations that don’t exist and live a life of fear.  I’m done trying to live up to expectations.
What was your reaction to all of the conflict that surrounded your first novel? What was the practical application in your life?  Any art form, songs, painting, fiction,  is not about someone getting out of your work what you put into it The beauty of creativity is the part that the Holy Spirit is all over.  You write out of your history and your experience, and others will see things that they think you put there for them.  When others get upset about something I’ve written, they’re not telling me about me, they’re telling me about them.  The controversy is people telling me about themselves. They’re bringing to the table what they’ve got. It a beautiful part of the conversation.

Relationship is always uncomfortable.  The journey in not about trying to please God but about learning to trust God.   The world takes us to some very dark places. God doesn’t take us there, He comes with us. He promises: I’m never going to leave you nor forsake you.  If trust is the central issue you cannot trust someone who doesn’t love you all the time.  I’m still going to stay with you in the middle of things when your lack of trust is going to be revealed so we can heal that place.

Crossroads…coming out soon…it will surprise you like the Shack. This catches a man between life and death. The main character has to deal with the roads he’s crossed already and roads he has yet to cross.  This guy is lost and comes to a major crossroads. This place of decision spins him in to a place of consideration of decisions he has already made and choices he has yet to make.

Was this story born out of the Shack phenomena…or was it a story already within you?  It was an idea that came to me in the last couple of years.  There is a timing for all of this.  The beginning of this year, was right for this story.   I had a general sense of the story and just trust  that the river of story will be there.  It went in unexpected directions, unexpected depths.  When a river runs into a dry space, it finds all of the crevices, and some are very deep. I am absolutely thrilled that Crossroads is the next book…the right next book.

 The Shack Reflections – 366 quotes out of the Shack and a daily reflection.  This book turned out beautifully.
Baxter Kruger is a storytelling, brilliant theologian.  He couldn’t believe this story existed.  He gets the message in the story. It’s like a tributary off the river of the Shack, and it’s been dry ground with deep crevices, and he explores those places theologically and takes you there on boats of story.  I think his is an important book.

What is your theological background? I’m a missionary kid who grew up in the highland of New Guinea. I’m multicultural, and that is reflected in my work.  My father was an itenerant  pastor in Canada. My journey came through a lot of pain and a lot of loss, and working through that.  Saying to my kids, that I don’t want you to grow up with the image of God that I grew up with.  We live in a world of great sadness and we’re not allowed to talk about it.  God never abandons us in the middle of our stuff. Read Psalms 139 .  The kindness of God leads us to repentance.  Freedom is always scarier than the law.  If you know the law, you know where the bars are. 

I’m still learning all the time, new things about God and His love.  To the degree that you are not all-knowing there is to the degree that there is change and process and growth.   Part of our theological stumbling block is born out of an idea of God the Father as someone we don’t want to spend eternity with.  We have such a limited view of God’s love that we think that when we leave this earth the relationships here, we lose all that really matters – that when we leave here, we will leave color and walk into shades of gray or shades of brown.  In this world we are surrounded by death all the time. It’s in our words, it’s in the way we relate to each other, and it makes us afraid of the love of the Father.

To live in the grace of the day we have is the life of a child.  As soon as you begin to project your fears into the future, and drag those back into the present and live life planning on ways to control those fears and those imagined situations – you become an adult. Your choice is to trust the Father and live inside the grace of today which means trust or to control which is based in fear. Fear  and love are opposites. To the degree that there is fear in your life is the degree to which you don’t know that you are loved.  The one who fears is not perfected in love. Perfect love casts out fear.  In the presence of God there is fullness of joy.  To the degree that there is not joy in your life, regardless of how difficult your situations are – and they can be horrendous – you can still experience joy because happiness is linked to circumstance and joy is linked to a person – Jesus.  To the degree that you don’t have joy in your life means that you are involved in fear, and dragging tomorrow’s fears into the grace of today.  You are not staying in the grace of one day.  We waste a huge amount of energy on that.

It’s a process.  In the kindness of God, He lives with us in the middle of our circumstances that will bring to the surface all of the ways we are not free.  There are incremental changes toward freedom just as there can be incremental changes toward destruction.

What is the take away value that you have taken away from the Crossroads?  I have the time to explore areas of faith and life that I didn’t have time to explore when I was writing the Shack. It’s the beauty of authenticity that we are all driven toward, it is the magnificence of the human soul that we are so blind to, and it’s the unexplainable goodness of God that permeates everything – those are my take aways.  Anything I ever write – those will be my take aways – it’s the same thing differently nuanced.    Everything in this world is coercive and violent – pushing us toward the future.  My desire is to not live that way.  I want to live inside the grace of one day.  I’m not interested any more…I’m old enough and broken enough…that I’m not interested anymore in getting God to follow me. I want to be involved in things He is blessing  - not asking Him to bless things that I’m doing.

The Shack added nothing to me in terms of identity and significance because I already had everything that mattered to me.  If I went back to working three jobs, I would be totally fine, because I already have everything that matters to me and I had it before I wrote the Shack.

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