Homesick for Heaven: The Ultimate Camp Meeting
Henry de Fluiter (1872–1970: 98 years)
[In 1966, at the age of 94, in a special Voice of Prophecy radio broadcast with his old friend H. M. S. Richards, he related the following in a voice quavering with emotion.]
Well, this is a rabbit story. It happened in Colorado when we were living in Denver. Usually on Sunday afternoons we would load our cars and some of the children from the church, and spend the day up in the mountains. And this particular Sunday that we went up there, we had quite a crowd of boys and girls; and you know, when you get up in the mountains, the first thing you think about is building a fire—especially when you’re going to eat your lunch.
And so the children gathered the wood and we found a cave—just a good place for a fire. And we built a fire in the cave, and while we were fixing the lunch there on the ground the fire burned fiercely, but the smoke all went into the cave (it didn’t come out, but it went into the cave; there was a draft that way).
And when the coals had all burned down (that is, the flame had stopped and there was just the red-hot coals)—out of that cave walked a rabbit. The rabbit was blinded by the smoke, and the rabbit walked right through those hot coals. It was a pitiful sight; it just sent a pain right down my spinal column. And that rabbit just walked right through the thing, and then into the open. And it just took all the desire for food out of my heart, and I wanted to be alone. I couldn’t stand it.
And I thought of all the suffering in the world today because of sin: not only human beings, but animals—innocent animals—have to suffer because of sin. And it put such a longing in my heart for Jesus to come to put an end to the suffering all over the world.
Then I told them that I wanted to be away by myself. And I went off by myself, and, thinking about this, I sat down, and these words came to me:
Longing, dear Saviour, I’m longing for Thee! Hasten, glad moment, when Jesus I’ll see; Longing to be, Saviour, with Thee,
Longing, I’m longing for Jesus.
[Gospel Melodies and Evangelistic Hymns, No. 184; Henry de Fluiter, Songs of Victory, No. 20; refrain; written 1925]
[Then Pastor de Fluiter added:] “And I hope that each and every one of you have that longing in your heart today.”
We Cannot Imagine How Beautiful Heaven Will Be
We need to remind ourselves more often than we do, that there are more vibrant colors to behold than we have yet beheld—and more exciting and satisfying experiences than we have yet encountered, and sounds and fragrances to fill up our senses beyond imagining. We cannot imagine the beauty of Heaven. Not even Paul, eminently articulate Paul, could describe adequately the beauty of Heaven, even though he was privileged to see it in vision. Rather helplessly he confessed: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Our feet may need to remain in this world, but we have to wean ourselves off this one and get our heads and our hearts fixed on that better world.
What follows is my condensed attempt to describe that better world, which to my mind blends the best images of both Heaven and the earth made new.
- No temple, no night—it is lit up by God’s immediate presence and glory. Laid out in an enormous square, 375 miles (12,000 furlongs in circumference, at ⅛ mile/furlong) on a side = 140,625 square miles, which nearly equals all of America’s inland (fresh) waters in total surface area, at 79,481 square miles, + 60,788 square miles of Great Lakes. Think of it!
- Walls of jasper (translucent green) soar 264 feet (144 cubits of 22 inches) skyward; entered via three great gates on each side, each of a single pearl (Revelation 21:21).
- Streets of transparent gold (Revelation 21:21, 18). Foundations of the massive, gleaming city are composed of 12 layers of gemstones: shades of green, blue, red, gold, and purple (Revelation 21:19, 20).
- The tree of life appears to have two distinct trunks on either bank of the river, but is really one tree meeting in a grand arch over the river, with trunks of transparent gold. The yield: monthly (12) varieties of fruit—gold-colored, mixed with silver—this, along with the leaves, we will eat to sustain a never-ending life (Revelation 22:2; cf. Early Writings 17).
- God’s great white throne (Revelation 20:11) is the focal point of the Holy City: overarched by a rainbow (Revelation 4:3), symbolizing God’s promises to never forget His people; the source of the river or water of life flowing through the middle of the city (Revelation 22:1, 2); therefore, God is confirmed as the Fountainhead of all life.
Descent of Holy City to Earth
- The entire city of the New Jerusalem descends through the “open space” of the constellation Orion, or nebula M42, 26 light-years across and 1,625–2,000 light-years distant (Revelation 21:2; cf. Early Writings 41), alighting on the Mount of Olives, east of old Jerusalem, which is transformed into a mighty plain (recall the City’s dimensions given earlier) (Zechariah 14:5, 4, 9; Great Controversy 662–3; Early Writings 51–2).
- So closes this humble attempt by a non-artist to portray that which only the Master Artist Himself is really capable of illustrating. Even Ellen White, blessed with the most articulate pen I have read in the English language, was forced to stop short and confess her helplessness in describing the glories of “over-yonder”: “Language is altogether too feeble to attempt a description of Heaven. As the scene rises before me, I am lost in amazement. Carried away with the surpassing splendor and excellent glory, I lay down the pen, and exclaim, ‘Oh, what love! what wondrous love!’ The most exalted language fails to describe the glory of Heaven or the matchless depths of a Saviour’s love” (Early Writings 289).
Henry de Fluiter, who shared the touching rabbit story with which we opened this message, concluded that special radio broadcast with what we have chosen for our article title.
This story concerns a sad experience regarding our Sister Gladys Wood, the wife of Dr. [Glenn] Wood, who was at that time a member of our church they built up in Paradise [California]. She lost her only little girl, her only child, by accident. They had a lot of children they adopted, but this was her very own. And she lost it in an accident. And it grieved her so bitterly that one night at prayer meeting she said to me, “Uncle Henry, I’m homesick for Heaven.” I said, “Gladys, so am I.” I said, “That’s going to be the title of a new song because I know what’s behind that. You lost your little girl and you’re going to have her again, and you’re going to be able to raise her under perfect conditions. What a wonderful blessing.”
Are You Homesick for Heaven?
I hope you are inspired and feel a deep longing for the life that awaits us in Heaven and the earth made new. By God’s grace, we shall enjoy the ultimate camp meeting experience in His very presence! The following are the words for “Uncle Henry” de Fluiter’s best-known hymn, “Homesick for Heaven”:
Homesick for Heaven
So dear to my heart is the promise of God, A home with the pure and blest;
Where Earth-weary pilgrims, strangers here below,
Will find their eternal rest.
’Tis Eden, fair Eden, I long to behold, Where naught can despoil that’s fair;
Where saints of all ages hold communion sweet, The glories of Heaven share.
But chiefest of all is the thot that enthralls, That I shall behold my King;
Rejoice in His presence, revel in His grace, And ever His praises sing.
I’m homesick for Heaven, Seems I cannot wait,
Yearning to enter Zion’s pearly gate; There, never a heartache, never a care, I long for my home over there.
[Henry de Fluiter, Songs of Victory, No. 2]
Call to Action
May the great God of Heaven and Earth sanctify you and put within your heart such a longing for Heaven that nothing will slow you down in sharing Jesus with others.
All scripture taken from the King James Version.