For my book club we are currently reading Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo. And not to give it away (the title pretty much gives you the gist of the book), it’s the true story of a little boy who recounts spending three minutes in heaven while he is having an emergency appendectomy. Months after the surgery he starts telling his parents little tidbits about his experience there (three minutes seems to last a lot longer in heaven, something the Bible alludes to). I read it Sunday (it was a quick read) and I kept turning to Simon and saying things like: “This is unbelieveable.” “This book is amazing.” “I just can’t believe this.” “Wow, I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around this.”
It’s really just an ordinary story about an extraordinary thing. A little boy named Colton, who was just slightly younger than Liam, visited heaven and sat on Jesus’ lap. He proved to his parents that he was there by telling them what they were doing while he was in surgery (something he wouldn’t have known unless he saw it separate from his body) and describing what heaven was like in his own words but in a way that corresponded directly with scripture using imagery not commonly taught on a 4-year-old’s level (i.e., unfamiliar to him). He also recounted meeting his great-grandfather and his little sister who his mom had miscarried before be was born, both strangers to him. It really is an amazing story. And yet it’s almost easier for me to accept it as fiction than as an actual reality (which it is).
I believe the Bible and I readily accept that, during that time, humans on earth saw heavenly beings or had heaven revealed to them in visions and dreams, so why can’t I accept that God is doing those very things in the present time? That a little boy can go to heaven and come back to tell his story? God’s interaction with people didn’t stop when the Bible was written or at some undetermined moment in time since then. He is ever-present, I think it’s us who have become more distant, more cynical, less likely to notice Him or His presence in our lives. And certainly more skeptical when we hear stories of others who claim to have seen heaven or heard the voice of God.
We cannot possibly comprehend the full nature of God or heaven and what will happen when we meet God face-to-face in His eternal kingdom. But we are human and we so love to explain things away, to understand everything about everything. We need to stop doing that and to embrace a childlike faith, to let go of the notion that we need to fully get everything. I think (or hope) in doing that, God will reveal more about Himself to us than we ever could have imagined; we won’t be getting in our own way. Yes, life can suck and bad things can (and do) happen but God loves us and He is with us always; He is there when life sucks and when bad things happen. He’s not going to turn away when we question Him or vent our frustrations, as the author says in the book, God already knows how we are feeling so there’s no point in trying to hide it from Him. The point is: He is there in heaven and here with us. We are never alone, never unloved.
It’s not that I don’t believe heaven is real or that something like this can/could/did happen, it’s that I don’t always live like I believe it [that’s a topic for a whole different post.] Heaven is for real. I need to keep remembering that, to keep living a life that reflects that truth and to have faith like a child.
You need to read this book, you probably think you don’t, but trust me, you do!