Monday, November 16, 2015

Reader Report: Heaven is for Real

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back

"Heaven Is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.

Colton said he met his miscarried sister whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how "reaaally big" God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit "shoots down power" from heaven to help us.

Told by the father but often in Colton's own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready there is a coming last battle."

Todd Burpo, with Lynn Vincent

Publishing Info:
Thomas Nelson, 2010

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When Heaven is for Real the movie was released a few years back, it caught the attention of my grandmother, who read the book and rented the movie. Not being a big reader back then, I didn't read the book, but we did watch the movie. And I thought it was mediocre (I guess I wasn't thinking about the part where this was an actual kid telling about his actual experience, but that's beside the point). 

Flash forward to this summer, when I started reading like crazy again. I've always loved books themselves (even when I wasn't particularly interested in reading them), so combine that with my renewed interest in reading, and the public library's bargain resale shelf - I bought over ten books thi summer. I found Heaven is for Real for 50 cents, and being a bargains shopper and book lover, I had to buy it, and figured I'd read it sometime.

Well, I finally got around to it. And, I still didn't find the story particularly engaging or interesting. I don't know (nor would I like to get involved with debates concerning) whether or not the Burpo's story is true,  whether is was a drug-induced vision, whether the parents embellished, or whether such heavenly trips are even possible for children (we know of a few prophets who have seen heaven, as relayed in scripture - Daniel, John the Revelator, Nephi). That's not my interest.

The main thing that struck me was how sick Colton actually was. That either wasn't emphasized or didn't stick out to me in the movie. Colton was so sick for five days, and on the brink of death for some of those, before the doctors correctly diagnosed him as experiencing a burst appendix. In the book, Todd says the nurses at the hospital were told by the doctor not to give the family hope - that they were operating on Colton, but his death was positively immanent. And he recovered so miraculously, through the prayers of his community. That, to me, was amazing.

Since the story wasn't to compelling, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite quotes:
  • "I thought of the times where the scripture says that God answered the prayers, not of the sick or dying, but of the friends of the sick and dying - the paralytic, for example. It was when Jesus saw the faith of the man's friends that He told the paralytic, 'Get up, take your mat and go home.' [Matt 9:6] A that moment, I needed to borrow the strength and faith of some other believers" (p41-42). That's something I've had to be humble enough to do recently. Kind of reminds me of this from Elder Jeffery R. Holland: "If your faith is a little tested in this or any season, I invite you to lean on mine. I know this work is God’s very truth . . . Hope on. Journey on. Honestly acknowledge your questions and your concerns, but first and forever fan the flame of your faith, because all things are possible to them that believe" ("Lord, I Believe," April 2013; emphasis added).
  • "God knows where He puts our children, in each family . . . God can reach anyone, anywhere, at any age" (p 143).
These two quotes tell me 1) God hears our prayers, and the prayers we pray for those we love; and 2) God knows our families, and He put us together. 

"Well, Jesus told me He died on the cross so we could go see His Dad."
(p 111)

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