This evening I finished reading the book “Heaven is for Real” sent to me by my Aunt Po. This book has a lot of significance to my family. Three months before my cousin Timothy passed away, his mother read this book. Little did she know how important it would be for her three months down the road.
The book recounts the years after a little boy by the name of Colton Burpo takes a field trip to heaven. Colton’s appendix had burst and while he was in surgery, he experienced heaven. A few months after his surgery, he slowly started to tell his parents about what he saw.
I know what you are thinking because it is probably the same thing I thought before reading the book. A husband and wife had a great idea to write a book from their 4-year old’s perspective about going to heaven and coming back to Earth to tell everyone about it! What a great way to earn fame and money! With stories in the news such as the “balloon boy hoax” and TV shows like “Toddlers and Tiaras”, we are naturally becoming more and more skeptical of well…everything. It is sick how far some parents will go to get attention, at the cost of their child’s reputation and quality of life.
A few chapters into the book “Heaven is for Real” and I was completely hooked. Every time I finished a chapter I had so many questions. I wish I had been writing them down as I went along. I do not believe that Colton’s parents fabricated any of his story. For some reason, Colton was brought to Heaven and shown a glimpse of what was to come. The matter-of-fact way in which he described Jesus, his great-grandfather, the rainbow colors, and how everybody had wings was astonishing. He met his sister who never had the chance to take her first breath here on Earth. Colton’s mom had miscarried and decided not to tell Colton until he got older. Now here Colton was telling his mom about his unborn sister! I cannot imagine the relief, sadness, joy, and confusion that Sonja, Colton’s mom, felt. Colton told his mom and dad that he had watched them while he was in surgery. He told his father, Todd, that he watched him in a small room, praying and crying. He told his mom that he watched her across the hospital from his dad, on the phone and crying. This was his parents’ first sign that something had happened to Colton. There is no way he could have known the details he was telling them.
I would love to talk with Colton now that he is older. I wonder if he finds it odd that he had these experiences when he was so young. I wonder if he thinks about Heaven every day. How could you not? One of the parts in the book that was incredible to me was when Todd told a story about Colton’s bad habit of darting out into the road.
Just then, I noticed a little pile of fur right out in the middle of Broadway. Seizing what I thought was a teachable moment, I pointed to it. “See that?” Colton took a lick of his own cone and followed my finger with his eyes. “That’s a bunny who was trying to cross the street and didn’t make it,” I said. “Thats what can happen if you run out and a car doesn’t see you! You could not only get hurt; you could die!”
Colton looked up at me and grinned over his cone. “Oh, good!” he said. “That means I get to go back to heaven!”
What a bizarre thing for a child to say! Here is a four-year old who not only seems to understand death, he is not afraid of it! He seems so confident in Heaven and what he has to look forward to.
I have so many mixed emotions and thoughts about this book and chain of events. On the one hand, it makes complete sense. Now that we are not living in “Bible Times” anymore, us humans need some reassurance every now and then! We don’t have Jesus walking around healing the blind and crippled. We doubt our faith by nature. I don’t think you can truly believe in something unless you have doubted it at some point. On the other hand, my practical side says “why in the world would God let someone see Heaven if they are not going to stay?!” Isn’t that the whole point of Heaven? It’s like a big reward and final home for believing and putting your faith in Christ! We don’t get to see it, but one day we will experience it. It almost seems like cheating that someone would get a glimpse into the afterlife. Then there is they psycho-analyzing side of me. Maybe this kid had some crazy dreams while he was under anesthesia. As the child of a pastor, he grew up hearing Bible stories every night! Surely his imagination went wild and he decided to fib to his parents about his “trip to heaven.” It wouldn’t be the first time a four-year old confused imagination with reality! While I have a lot of mixed emotions, I do believe that Colton did experience Heaven. I know that God does give us miracles every day, and that day, He decided to give a HUGE gift to a little four-year old boy.
After finishing the book, I feel at peace and comforted. I couldn’t help but cry at the thought of my cousin Tim enjoying his time in the afterlife. He is watching over his family members on Earth, and praying for us. I loved the part of the book when Colton talked about nobody being old or having glasses. And all the animals! Colton said there were animals everywhere! Just the THOUGHT of having a new body and not being allergic to animals in Heaven is enough to make me giddy. No asthma, allergies, eczema–I cannot wait.
There are so many things in the book I wanted to write about, but cannot remember them all now. I know I will be rereading the book soon to take it all in again. Please read this book! If you are Atheist, Muslim, Christian, Agnostic, Buddhist, doesn’t matter. It is spiritually moving and mind-blowing! I am thankful that God gave this experience to Colton. I know it has touched millions of lives, but most importantly, the lives of my precious family members. I am grateful that my aunt was preparing for Tim’s departure from this Earth without even realizing it by reading this book.
Afterthought: I always have to laugh when I think about near-death experiences. I will never forget when my pastor visited me after I almost kicked the bucket in 2003. The doctors said if I had been a few years older, I would have died. The human heart isn’t designed to withstand that much adrenaline injected right into it! You probably know the story but if not, I wrote a bit about it here. Anyway, Pastor Holley came to the hospital when I was in a recovery room and said “I have to ask, did you see a bright light or Heaven?!” I laughed and said “Nope, we might have a problem.” Sometimes I wish I had been given the opportunity to peek into Heaven, but Lord knows there is a reason I didn’t! Who knows, maybe I would have seen my un-allergic self and not wanted to come back! 😉