I finished reading the book Heaven is for Real, in which “A young boy emerges from life-saving surgery with remarkable stories of his visit to heaven.”
The first four or so chapters were somewhat stressful, as Todd Burpo, the father of the boy Colton, retells the story of them wondering what is going on with their boy suffering from stomach pains and vomiting, finding out his appendix burst days before, and sending him off to emergency surgery. These chapters were especially heart-wrenching because my wife and I went through something similar, although not nearly as extreme. Our son went through a period of vomiting, stomach pains, and low blood count. After a couple visits to the ER and visits to several specialists, we discovered our son had Meckel’s diverticulum, and it was easily remedied with surgery (although surgery is always scary for a little one, but God helped us in the peace area). The condition was not nearly as serious as Colton’s, where it took a miracle to save him, but I feel that I can at least identify with the situation of taking your young son to the ER, not knowing what is going on with him.
It isn’t until a few months later when Colton speaks about things he saw and did in heaven matter-of-factly, speaking of his conversations with Jesus, sitting in the throne room of God, meeting his deceased grandfather, and meeting his older sister who was miscarried.
Although I’ve always been pro-life, I’ve never been completely sure that a soul was present in the womb at the time of conception (but I’ve been pro-life nevertheless because I believe it is wrong to kill a human and the benefit of the doubt should be in favor of life). So, if this story is indeed genuine, it is very interesting to note that a baby carried for two months does have a soul, not that it would make any difference to pro-choicers, religious or not.
There were a few other interesting revelations. Jesus has a purple sash around his white robe and Gabriel sits at the left hand of God. There are also animals present, although the book doesn’t say if they used to be on earth. The most notable feature of God to Colton was not his power but his love for us. Also, as often believed, Jesus still carries the scars on his hands and feet.
So, the main question that has to be addressed is whether or not this story is for real. I tend to believe it is for a few reasons. Mostly, it corresponds with the Bible. I don’t see anything in the story that contradicts what the Bible says. Each one of Colton’s visions is quickly followed in the book by a passage of scripture that coincides with the vision. Granted, that is not a sufficient condition but a necessary condition. Nevertheless, it seems that so many so-called “visions” and such have some message that adds onto or contradicts the Bible at some turn. The messenger typically gets greedy and adds something to the message that works in their favor. Also, it seems that the story is designed to give glory to God. Again, every vision is followed by a Bible passage. The whole manner of writing is designed to glorify God.
Also, I’m moved by what the father says in one of the last chapters. He again recounts the terrible days in the ER and the pain his family went through. He claims that, despite Colton’s experience, he still would have not chosen to go through with it. So, it does not sound like some story he would make up at the expense of his child.
So, overall, a very fascinating read. It’s nice to get some images of heaven and Jesus, when I feel that Christians sometimes don’t focus very much on heaven and more on the here and now. It made heaven seem a little more real to me.