Home, by Elyse Fitzpatrick
November 28, 2016
There are a lot of books out there about heaven. And we have a lot of questions about it. We’ve seen a rise in popularity of heaven tourism books and many of us have rolled our eyes wondering why people read them with such interest. Elyse Fitzpatrick’s Home is a good alternative to offer to those who have been captivated with the Heaven is For Real accounts. Fitzpatrick models how a curious reader looks to Scripture as an authority for learning about heaven, along with researching what other serious teachers of the faith have written on the topic.
I remember listening to an old Alison Krauss song with the lyrics, “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.” I think this may be a reason that the heaven tourism books are so fascinating to some. They want to hear details that we don’t get until we die---without having to die. But the focus of Fitzpatrick’s book may touch on another reason---we are all homesick. Fitzpatrick suggests, “Perhaps Christians are the most consistently homesick people in the world because they know this world (as it is) isn’t their true home” (33).
She does point us to a material place as our final home, a new heavens and a new earth, but also highlights how our deepest longing for this home is because of who is there. There is a tension for the Christian because while we are new creations indwelt by the Holy Spirit, having prayerful access to the throne room of God, we still long to shed these sinful bodies and dwell with our Lord:
No amount of faith in God will change the fact that we are homesick exiles, pining for another place, a place where he is. Jesus is our homeland.
As Fitzpatrick is guided by the Word to teach on the heavens, where we go when we die, and what we look forward to after the resurrection, she also encourages the reader to use her imagination with this grounding of Scriptural truths. Because of this, there are speculative sections, admitted by the author, where readers may differ from her. And yet even where the reader may disagree, Fitzpatrick’s writing challenges both those who teach a disembodied view of heaven, as well as those who only think of our eternity in academic terms.
Fitzpatrick’s strengths as a counselor certainly shine in this book, as she presses the reader with a forward-looking focus to the promises every believer is given. Acknowledging our homesickness to be with Christ, beholding the beatific vision, and reigning with him in our eternal home, the new heavens and the new earth, helps us to handle the tension between the already and the not yet. And it encourages us to persevere in the Christian life of faith and obedience until our God-given longings for him are consummated.
For these reasons, this is a book that many who were interested in the heaven tourism books may enjoy reading as well, with a much firmer Scriptural grounding.