Homesickness – Themes From Andrew Peterson’s Music and Stories

Could it be that the many roads
You took get to here
Were just for me to tell this story
And for you to hear this song
And your many hopes
And your many fears
Were meant to bring you here, all along.

I had just found a good deal on an album called Counting Stars, and on the first track I was kind of taken aback by these lyrics. I couldn’t recall any other songs where the artist directly addresses listeners, and I especially found it peculiar that Andrew Peterson, this folksy artist I’d hardly heard of, publicly assumed that God’s sovereignty had brought me to his album for a life-changing reason.

Little did I know he was exactly right.

As I devoured one song and album after another—some immediately profound, and some requiring several focused replays for me to understand—I saw a change occur in me. I started reading his fantasy series called the Wingfeather Saga. And even though these are silly, whimsical books geared towards children, I found I was starting to hope more deeply, dream more recklessly … and it’s been so good. How can God use one author and songwriter’s gifts to affect me, and so many others, so deeply?

Andrew Peterson stands apart from the bulk of songwriters and authors I’ve heard and read, because his work all seems to pulse one common theme: homesickness.

In “Lay Me Down”, Andrew says God’s love is just another word for “Home.” There’s a world we all want, that God has created us to want. That world, the New Earth, is coming, and will last forever. Followers of Jesus, through the death of Christ, will one day in fullness join Him in His resurrection, and it’s going to be glorious. In “Don’t You Want to Thank Someone”, Andrew poetically describes how each day we are wearily reminded of how things are not supposed to be. Then we get some glorious glimpses into the beauty that we were created for … and we await the Reckoning, our welcome Home.

Through any of Andrew Peterson’s stories—whether it’s a song about an elderly woman in Iowa or a nail-biting chapter in which the Igiby children are sailing past dragons—my heart is stirred with affection for my King Jesus who is working “to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and on earth” (Ephesians 1:10). I know and love Jesus, and I long to be with Him forever, but when I’m bogged down by the brokenness of this world, all this talk about hope seems kind of far-off and irrelevant to my daily troubles. But then I am reminded that there will be a time, “After the Last Tear Falls”, when all that’s left in the world are “oceans and oceans of love.Being told messages like this through song has a magical effect on the soul. As Andrew Peterson said in an interview, “Stories are the language that God has wired all people’s hearts to speak.” And community forms around this, as we all like children long for our Father.

This doesn’t just bring me into a dreamy revelry, drifting away from others, or the Bible itself, or doing the dishes—it shouldn’t, anyway. Knowing and feeling hope of the resurrection drives me to look around ever more and realize that this is not it … yet. In “Faith to Be Strong”, Andrew confesses that “This life is not long, but its hard.” This means I don’t need to pursue every kind of luxury I can afford. I don’t need to frantically try to fix anything or anyone that makes my life difficult. I just need to keep loving Jesus and loving others, to be faithful with what He’s giving me. I need to die to self while there is still death. And there is great life in that.

I encourage you to pick up one (or all) of Andrew Peterson’s skillfully made albums and books. It’s plain that these stories come from a heart and mind that has spent many years marinating in the Word and fighting the good fight of faith.

– Hope Henchey

Posted on: December 29, 2014 - 3:49PM

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