Title: Heaven is for Real
Author: Todd Burpo
"A young boy emerges from life-saving surgery with remarkable stories of his visit to heaven. Heaven is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.
Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how reaally big God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit shoots down power from heaven to help us. Told by the father, but often in Colton's own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle."
This book has been on the NY Best Seller list for weeks and weeks and I decided to read it to see what all the fuss is about. It's the story of four-year-old Colton Burpo who experienced a near-death event during emergency surgery for an infected appendix.
After he recovered, Colton's memories of seeing angels and a visit to heaven stunned his parents. Over time more and more details trickled out as Colton volunteered information, and his parents questioned him for more. Todd Burpo, Colton's father and the book's author, often relays Colton's details of heaven together with scripture passages that explain or substantiate what the little boy described.
Like all books that describe heaven, I believe we need to read this one with a wait-and-see attitude. For certain, we need to refrain from building our theology of heaven and the after-life on such reported experiences. However, it is interesting to me that several books reporting experiences of heaven say similar things.
For me one test of the value of such an experience is what difference did it make in the life or lives of the people who lived it. When Todd and Sonja Burpo were asked that question, here were some of the things they mentioned:
1. Colton's illness taught them how to be humble and accept help from others.
2. Todd Burpo: "Another way Colton's story has changed us is this: we are bolder. We live in a day and time when people question the existence of God. As a pastor, I was always comfortable talking about my faith, but now in addition, I talk about what happened to my son. It's the truth and I talk about it, no apologies" - page 153.
3. In addition, Colton (now 11 years old) has a new boldness and certainty about God and heaven, reflected in the book's title, which he suggested:
Book editor: Colton, what do you want people to know from your story?
Colton: I want them to know that heaven is for real. (Heaven is for Real pp. 153,154).