Monday, June 13, 2011

Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent

Heaven Is For Real tells the story of Colton Burpo's experience of being in heaven. In March 2003, a family trip turned in to a nightmare. Todd Burpo, a Nebraska pastor took his family with him to a district board meeting of the Wesleyan Church in Greeley, Colorado. In Greeley, the Burpo's 4 year old son Colton became very ill. At first his parents, Todd and Sonja suspected it was a return of the stomach flu which Colton had apparently suffered from in February. However, with the passing hours, it became apparent that something more sinister was wrong. Todd and Sonja raced to Imperial where Colton was admitted to the hospital there. By this time they suspected that Colton had appendicitis, an infection family relatives seemed to be prone to, but doctors seemed to feel that this was not Colton's problem. Three days later, on March 5, the Burpo's made the critical decision to move Colton to Great Plains Regional Medical Center in North Platte. To Todd, the way Colton looked reminded him of the "death watch" he had experienced so many times as a pastor. They could only hope and pray that they had not acted too late to save their son.

Colton's face appeared pinched and pale, his face a tiny moon in the stark hallway. The shadows around his eyes had deepened into dark, purple hollows. He wasn't screaming anymore, or even crying. He was just...still.
Once there, the diagnosis of a ruptured appendix was confirmed and Colton was rushed into life-saving surgery. It was while he was undergoing surgery, that Colton had his mystical experience of entering heaven and meeting Jesus and several family members. It was not until months later, during the summer of 2003, that the Burpo's began to learn of Colton's experiences in heaven.

What follows through most of the book is an account of Colton's parents attempts to learn more about what he experienced in heaven. I have no doubt that 4 year old Colton had a mystical experience and was in the presence of Jesus. It's quite apparent that he was suffering a great deal by the time he was sent in for surgery. It would not surprise me that he experienced these things as a comfort and also for some possible future spiritual benefit. I have mixed feelings about the Burpo's questioning Colton about his experience. On the one hand I understand as a parent how he would want to learn more about his son's experience. On the other hand I wonder if it is beneficial to focus so much on the details, which in my view aren't so important.

There are many things that are theologically sound in Colton's account; the presence of Christ, Mary the Mother of God, the love of God for each of us, the inexpressible beauty of heaven and the vastness of God, the terror of Satan, and the existence of angels who do battle.

At any rate Heaven Is For Real is an interesting account of a little boy's experience of heaven. It is a fascinating read and a short one sure to strengthen the faith of most Christians in a post-modern world.

Book Details:
Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent
Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson 2010
163 pp.

No comments: