Lynn Austin is an author who
understands the profound ministerial ability of a novel. Return
to Me (Bethany House) challenges readers to look at biblical events and
personalities as relevant to contemporary situations, instead of mere stories
of ancient peoples. Through a work of fiction, Austin succeeds at relating
truths that are unchangeable and inherent to God’s Word. She steers clear of
sensationalizing the experiences of the characters and allows the story to
stand on its own feet historically and biblically, which is certainly
compelling and powerful enough.
Iddo, a priest from the tribe of
Levi, is among the exiled Israelites living in Babylon after the destruction of
The Temple. He is unsettled in his spirit by the wicked practices he has seen
his people adopt while exiled in Babylon. He sees their apathy as acceptance of
the pagan ways and is determined to see their return to Jerusalem and the
rebuilding of The Temple. Facing dissension within his own family he eventually
convinces his wife and grandson Zechariah to return to the Promised Land with
him and a small contingency to reclaim it from the Samaritans. Their way is
fraught with danger and opposition.
God does not pick perfect people
to accomplish greatness in His name, as is perfectly evidenced by Iddo and
Zechariah. Their faith is tried, it wavers on the precipice of doubt and
rejection, but they are never abandoned even in their moments of unbelief.
Through their failings, the greatness of God can be given all the glory for no
man could take the credit for their improbable victories over the enemies
laying siege against their mission.
Babylon is of both literal and
symbolic significance as deftly revealed by Austin. The Jews are captive to
Babylon politically and spiritually, many enticed by the luscious and indulgent
lifestyles of their captors. The Israelites’ tenuous hold on their relationship
with God is disintegrating due to their inability to put away the wickedness of
Babylon that has become so ingrained in their lives that it is the new ideal,
not righteousness. Here Austin warns readers of the emptiness of a
materialistic lifestyle and selfish ambition. This is reminiscent of the
Christian edification to be in the world, not of the world.
Because the Bible is just as
applicable today, Lynn Austin’s conceptualization of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah are likewise congruent to modern
life. She does not take unnecessary liberties with history to further her plot
or detract from the message of reconciliation. It is evident in the exemplary
detail that her research was intensive and comprehensive. The information she
disseminates is never dry, but resplendent with her signature prose and
When a biblical fiction novel
makes readers yearn for and turn to the Bible, it has succeeded in its purpose
to speak to the heart and its desire to draw closer to God’s encompassing
embrace. Return to Me is a cerebral and emotional read that
must be considered and consumed with diligence, lest the magnanimity not be
justly appreciated. A sweeping saga of the restoration of a people to the
Father and the personal longing of the heart for God’s own that is humbling in
its beauty and mastery of writing, book one of the Restoration Chronicles is
another diamond in Lynn Austin’s literary crown.
Lydia Mazzei is a Canadian high school teacher by day and a blogger by night. She has been a lifestyle blogger since 2007 and began her book blog The Overweight Bookshelf in 2009 to share her favorite past-time with fellow book addicts. As the name of her book blog indicates, Lydia has a voracious appetite for books that has resulted in bookshelves so heavy, they just might crash through the floor supports. Lydia also serves on the Advisory Board of the Inspy Awards.