Tuesday, 24 April 2012

'Heaven is for Real' by Todd Burpo

I have just finished reading this book called 'Heaven is for Real' which tells of the remarkable story of four year old Colter Burpo's near death experience and his encounters with Jesus in Heaven. 

Written by his father Todd, who is a pastor, the book is a personal and heartfelt recollection of the conversations he's had with his son and all his revelations split into easy to read chapters, each talking of a different theological point. 

What Colter was able to describe included what his parents were doing whilst he was in surgery under anaesthesia; he claims he was able to leave his body and in Heaven, met with Jesus, family members he had never met or heard of, vivid descriptions of Heaven and supernatural sightings that reveal the character of God. 

With relevant scripture passages quoted to make it easy for us to compare Colter's comments with scripture, there is compounding evidence that something miraculous has happened. Whilst not all scripture fits perfectly, it is difficult to believe a four year old could recall so much biblically sound imagery with such conviction. 

The book does not mention any inaccuracies Colton may have possibly relayed. We don't and won't know everything that comes out of his mouth. Has the book just taken everything that made sense and left everything that didn't fit out? And as the book is written from the child's father's point of view, will it be a bit warped? Plus it was written quite a few years after the events and conversations had happened.

That said, Todd claims to not have steered his son into any obvious answers and only asked open ended questions. And what good would that have done? Todd too wants the truth, not the fantasies or imaginations of a four year old.

Whilst we should take everything we read with a pinch of salt, the events that had occurred and this book could not be explained in any other way than if it had truly happened. Of course, there will be people who will pick holes in the book for eternity but that is not the point. 

'Heaven is for Real' has clearly affected not only the Burpo family, their community but also readers of this book. Regardless of your belief or lack thereof, this book will definitely make you think of the existence of an afterlife and what that would look like.

Personal Reflection
Despite being a Christian for almost ten years now, I still struggle with the death of my dad. Why did he die and why is my walk with God suffering because of it? I know God exists and I believe my dad is in Heaven with him but isn't my faith supposed to grow because of it?

Having read this book, I am reminded that we should trust God's greater plan and that however much we complain or grumble, God listens and answers our prayers. 

I think one of the things that hit me most is if everyone could see the spiritual world, there would be no need for faith. If we could see Jesus, what would we say. How would we try and justify our neglect, our laziness, our sin?  Which is why when Colter tells his dad that 'God is huge and he loves us SOOO much'- that really hit me. 

A picture of Jesus by Akiane, a girl who had never heard of Jesus but  received visions from Heaven.. and when Colter was asked about this image, he says this is 'right' after rejecting many other images and depictions of Jesus.
Of the many many things I struggle with as a Christian, I sometimes feel unworthy to be loved by God and whilst I know he loves me, I still take advantage his saving grace to fall back into the hole and it goes on and on and on... 

And to think that my father, in Heaven, could see or knows what is happening on Earth right now with me, feels exposing. What would he think of me when I'm in sin? Or when I make a bad choice in life? 

There is so much we don't know about God and Heaven and life after death. Even if there are inaccuracies in this book, details left out, things unexplained... but one thing that I have been strengthened by after reading this book is my faith that God exists and that Heaven is for real, whatever that may look like.

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