Hey there, beautifuls!
I have officially finished my 2nd book of 2013, and I have to say --- I haven't had a book impact me in this way in a while! I read Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo.
Heaven is For Real chronicles the experiences of the Burpo family in 2003. Todd Burpo is a Protestant Pastor in Nebraska, and had known since he was 13 years old that he wanted to be a pastor. In the Spring of 2003, Colton got very sick with an acute case of appendicitis that went undiagnosed for 6 days before he eventually underwent emergency surgical removal of his ruptured appendix. The Burpo family was relieved and grateful that Colton survived the ordeal, and everyone was ready to put the incident behind them.
However, over the next few months, Colton started mentioning things that puzzled his parents. He had a real concern about whether people had Jesus in their heart when they passed away. Why would a 4-year-old boy be frantic over whether a deceased stranger knew Jesus? The more Colton's parents began to probe and ask questions, the more they realized something incredible had happened to Colton. Colton nonchalantly told his father that while the surgeon was removing his appendix, he was watching everything outside of his body, while sitting in Jesus's lap. Colton was able to describe what his parents were doing during his surgery, information that the parents had not told Colton. Colton was able to describe Heaven in terms that are consistent with the Bible, disclosing details that are not taught in 3-year-old Sunday School. Colton told stories of meeting other children, and of meeting his Great Grandfather (whom had passed away long before Colton was born).
For me, the most jaw-dropping moment of the book was when Colton described meeting his sister in Heaven. Colton's mother had miscarried a child when she was 8 weeks pregnant, and grieved that loss deeply. They never knew the sex of the baby, but experienced a void where that little life would have been. Colton's parents had certainly never told him about this miscarriage, not exactly a conversation you have with a then-3-year-old. Colton told his parents that he met his sister, who has no name, and that his sister told him she died in his mommy's tummy. How would Colton know all of this?
The story of Colton meeting his deceased sister in Heaven was poignant for me. I have always been pro-choice. I believe that in every incident of rape or incest that results in pregnancy, the woman should have the right to decide how to proceed with the pregnancy. Though I have been confident in my pro-choice beliefs, I have always been unsure about when exactly "life" starts. Is it at conception? Is it at birth? Is it at the 3rd trimester? This segment of the book changed how I look at abortion. Pursuing a career in medicine, it is fairly easy for me to depersonalize abortion and think of it as a few cells that have been multiplying...not yet a child. But the fact that Colton met his sister in Heaven, and that he proclaimed, "She's okay. God adopted her" --- really has got me second-guessing my previous feelings on the topic.
The cynical and scientific side of me immediately jumps to questioning the validity of the story. How do we know what Colton really revealed to his parents? Was Todd Burpo looking for a payout by writing a book about his son's experience? Was he looking for a slice of fame or to increase the numbers within his congregation? But all of these questions I found myself asking go against the very purpose of the book - and that purpose is the strengthening of faith - faith in God, faith in Jesus, and faith that Heaven is real.
It made me smile to read Colton's accounts of what God is like, what Jesus is like, what angels are like, and what Heaven is like. It bolsters my hope in a wonderful after-life, and uplifts me. His description of beauty, rainbows, light, and peace are exactly what I hope for Heaven to be. I also smiled when I read that Colton told his dad there are lots of animals in Heaven - it's comforting to know that our on-Earth companions will be at our side once again in Heaven.
I HIGHLY recommend this book to you! It is only 150 pages, and reads super super quickly. Even if you aren't a religious person, I think you'll enjoy it. At least your curiosity might be piqued enough to investigate the notions of religion and Heaven further. It can't hurt to take a look at this one!
Have you read this book?
What did you think?
Cheers to this beautiful read :)