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Monday, October 31, 2016

"Home" (Elyse Fitzpatrick)

TITLE: Home: How Heaven and the New Earth Satisfy Our Deepest Longings
AUTHOR: Elyse Fitzpatrick
PUBLISHER: Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2016, (240 pages).

Recently, there has been a spate of books about miracles and near-death-experience about what heaven is like. One was involved in a road accident. Another with an incurable illness was badly injured but experienced a miraculous healing. Still another claimed to have been to heaven and came back alive! All of them have this common theme: Heaven is real from the perspective of those who have been there (or claimed to be). Looking it from the perspective of people longing for home, theologians have spent countless hours coming the Bible and examining historical evidence about the place Jesus had prepared for believers. Some stayed with the scholarly and more academic theological treatment. Others tried to make it more palatable for popular reading. This book is one of the latter but unique in several ways. The most significant way is how the author puts into words our true longings for something far better than what earth can provide. It is way more desirable than any bucket list we could ever put together. Beginning with a personal description of tragedy and loss, Elyse Fitzpatrick helps us ponder upon the following questions:

  • What will heaven be like?
  • What about the biblical New Earth?
  • What happens when we die?
  • How will I spend eternity?
  • What about our loved ones who had died?

In a beautiful rendition of longing, Fitzpatrick marinades her thoughts of home with the theme of holiness. Instead of doing Church things like a meaningless ritual, she turns the working in the present to pining for something better. She replaces the monotonous duties of everyday life with a captivating panorama of what heaven looks like, turning it into a breathtaking journey we all desire to embark upon. This book points toward that way.

Beginning with a powerful foreword from Paul David Tripp, readers capture the human longing for home accelerated during times of fear, loneliness, setback, and all kinds of frustrations. Fitzpatrick quickly follows up with a testimony of personal loss and an overview of her interpretive method and hermeneutics of heaven. She uses the prophetic and apocalyptic parts of Scripture to hone her understanding. She assumes that readers already have a saving faith in Jesus. She believes that the cure for homesickness is heaven. In looking at Jesus' comforting words to us to rest and abide in Him, that He has prepared a paradise for us. It is longing for God's glory to be revealed. The image of the garden city gives us plenty of room for imagination. The Ascension of Jesus expands this infinitely. From earth, we can have that glimpse of the heavenly kingdom to visualize the New Jerusalem. This earth is but a shadow of what is to come. When the final kingdom comes, there will be no more discrimination or elitism. We will enter into the holy of holies and dwell with God. After describing the biblical images of the garden, the city, and the New Jerusalem, Fitzpatrick slows down to touch on tears that drive us to long for heaven. Instead of being locked into a state of escapism, she shows us what it means to let heaven become a force of hope and a vision of something much glorious and more beautiful. It is for those who hunger and thirst after the righteousness of God. It is for those who refuse to let the despairs of the world hem them down. It is for those who focus on the vision of heaven and that when Christ returns, we will then be truly and fully home. Her description of Church as the place to be as we stand in the thin place between heaven and earth is truly a powerful chapter not to be missed.

Never a boring page, Fitzpatrick writes with a captivating mood of what it means to long for our true spiritual home. This is something which many people do not normally do. They are simply stuck in the rut of work and monotonous routine. They do not seem as hopeful as what the Bible has been encouraging us toward. They are unable to recognize their inner longings for the eternal because of their preoccupation with the temporal. This is most unfortunate. Thankfully, we now have a book that not only whets our spiritual appetite for heaven, we catch a glimpse of something dazzling and resplendent. Something that words alone cannot fully establish. Something that we all need desperately. It is not simply a vision of heaven but a picture of home.  For when heaven and home are seen synonymously as one, we will not only live on with great hope, we long with heartfelt yearning. Home is that place where we will not afraid to be (or don't pretend to be) who we really are.

Let me share two quotes from the book. The first is what prompts the longing for home.

"Home can be a source of great pain. To have a home, to be in relationships, to love, and to trust, is to know loss, brokenness, and hopelessness. That's what it means to live here, this side of heaven. Strong relationships grow weak; people we've trusted desert us. The eggs we've carefully placed in that basket get scrambled on the floor. At the bottom of our hearts, when we are being brutally honest, even the happiest among us wouldn't say that our homes here are completely satisfying. And even in those deeply satisfying homes, everyone still has to say good-bye." (19)

The second is that immense hope of home that heaven is more than a place. It is a relationship.
"Perhaps one way to think about our heavenly rewards is to change up the paradigm a bit. Rather than thinking about rewards like a grade on a report card, we should think about them in the context of relationship. We know that there is such a thing as a rewarding relationship with a friend or a spouse. If I seek to be a good wife out of love and genuine desire to bless Phil, I will certainly reap the reward of that work. In doing so, I am not merely trying to amass Brownie points or earn a good Christmas present. I'm not thinking about what I'll get from him at all. But one of the by-products of my faithful love for him will most likely be the blessing and reward of a long and stable marriage." (195)

Elyse Fitzpatrick is a frequent speaker at churches, conferences, and retreats. She has written over 22 books and lives with her husband in San Diego, California. She holds a certificate of biblical counseling from CCEF (San Diego) and an MA in Biblical Counseling from Trinity Theological Seminary.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Bethany House Publishers and Graf-Martin Communications without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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