When Colton Burpo made it through an emergency appendectomy, his family was overjoyed at his miraculous survival. What they weren’t expecting, though, was the story that emerged in the months that followed—a story as beautiful as it was extraordinary, detailing their little boy’s trip to heaven and back.
Colton, not yet four years old, told his parents he left his body during the surgery–and authenticated that claim by describing exactly what his parents were doing in another part of the hospital while he was being operated on. He talked of visiting heaven and relayed stories told to him by people he met there whom he had never met in life, sharing events that happened even before he was born. He also astonished his parents with descriptions and obscure details about heaven that matched the Bible exactly, though he had not yet learned to read.
With disarming innocence and the plainspoken boldness of a child, Colton tells of meeting long-departed family members. He describes Jesus, the angels, how “really, really big” God is, and how much God loves us. Retold by his father, but using Colton’s uniquely simple words,Heaven Is for Real offers a glimpse of the world that awaits us, where as Colton says, “Nobody is old and nobody wears glasses.”
Heaven Is for Real will forever change the way you think of eternity, offering the chance to see, and believe, like a child.
And he [Jesus] said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
I can't say that I had any profound epiphanies while reading this book, but I was struck by the above Bible verse, which is referenced in the book. It is so easy for children to believe and have faith. They are absolutely fearless and they see the world with such purity. It's sad to think that it is the loss of that child innocence that bogs us down with fear and doubt. How sad, that as we grow up and gain life experience, we lose a truly special part of ourselves that we will struggle to regain for the rest of our lives. Even Colton's father, a pastor, found it hard to believe his son's story at first. How much easier life would be if we could all just return to that part of ourselves?
This is a remarkable little story, and a very enjoyable and quick read. If you are a believer, than I think there is a lot in here that can reaffirm your beliefs and give you hope for beyond this life. I liked how Todd included several passages from the Bible that aligned with what Colton said about heaven, as he discussed his own apprehensions about the validity of his son's story. I also appreciated the fact that he was honest in his skepticism, even though he was a pastor. This story is not "preachy" in any way, and came across as an honest retelling of a horrific experience that turned into a blessing not only for the Burpo Family, but many others as well. Sometimes our darkest hour is one of God's mercies in disguise.