November’s book review is on The Visitation (1999), by Frank Peretti. What if someone claiming to be the Messiah turned up in a little village in Eastern Washington? How would we be able to tell if he was authentic or a fraud?
The Bible says Jesus was born at “just the right time,” to fulfill God’s plan and the predictions of the prophets.
Maybe Jesus also came “at just the right time” in the history of the world because first century Judea (the Land of the Jews) couldn’t document who he was as we in the twenty-first century most certainly would try to do via modern technology. If Jesus had appeared in a town on earth today instead of two thousand years ago, someone would stick a camera in his face, broadcast to the world, perhaps try to swipe and test his DNA.
What’s more, people would put his photographs on everything, commercialize his “brand,” and elevate any and all physical attributes associated with him – his racial mix, body type, and facial features, the side he parted his hair on, if it was parted.
My Bias and The Visitation
Okay, so I ended up picking up The Visition when I didn’t plan to. That’s because when someone years ago loaned me another book written by Frank Peretti, I was away from the Lord, avoided thinking about spiritual questions, and expected the story to be preachy. (Shows what I thought of Christian fiction!) So I returned it without finishing it. This time was different.
What happened was I heard Frank Peretti speak at the Oregon Christian Writers Conference in August, 2017. He was so approachable – a regular guy about my age – that I decided to risk saying hello. Lo and behold, he was the same up close as he was at the podium. On top of that, he listened patiently as I chatted about our mutual friend Larry, overseas missions, and my writing journey. When all was said and done, I felt I owed it to myself to read one of his books. Hard choice as he’s prolific! Reading the jacket blurb and first page of The Visitation hooked me.
The Power of a Good Story
From the get-go, I related to Travis Jordan, a bruised, vulnerable former pastor. The more I got to know him and what he’d suffered, the more fascinated I became with his insider’s view of Pentacostalism and its extremes. On top of that, I enjoyed the disarmingly laid back, folksy narration that brought to life the townspeople, their foibles, their quirky church groups, and their connections to the self-proclaimed messiah.
I liked the way they talked. One of them, Dee Baylor, sits next to the bed in fetal position, bemoaning to her husband her lot in life.
“You don’t know anything, Jim Baylor! How could you? You don’t know the Lord, you don’t care, and you don’t know diddly squat about spiritual things or what God’s doing on the earth…”
(page 337, paperback edition)
Instead of being pedantic, the story shone through as all good stories do. The dark side came alive and snuck up on me with its seeming innocence, undeniable power, savagery, and limitations. As I closed the book, I thought, what a refreshing read!
Who Would Like The Visitation
I heartily recommend this book to Frank Peretti fans who haven’t yet read it and to the curious who appreciate a good yarn. You won’t be disappointed.
May God bless Frank Peretti and his family!
Posted on November 7, 2017
p.s. I’m already in the middle of another of his books.