Monday, August 1, 2011

Book Report: Heaven is for Real

I often write about serious topic in my blog, and usually maintain some degree of lightness and humor even when doing so. I don't really have any jokes to tell in this one, and hope you will read and take to heart what I have experienced through a wonderful book entitled Heaven is for Real.

Let me start this book report by being vulnerable and sharing that for as long as I can remember I have had a pretty intense fear of death. I remember numerous occasions where, as a child, I was reduced to sobs and cries of fear at the thought of my own life ending. My mother would find me in my room and console me, assuring me that God loved me and that He wouldn't let me die unless he had prepared me. I have always clung to that thought, and allowed it to give me hope, yet I still struggle with a deep fear that I push away when it comes near so I don't begin to panic and hyperventalate. I am Christian, and have had very real encounters with Jesus and consider the Gospel to be truth; still, I question whether Heaven is real.

Two of my dear friends, knowing this about me, began sharing with me one day about the book and encouraged me to read it. To be honest, I felt apprehensive even about reading it. I don't like death. I don't like to talk about it, joke about it, watch movies about it, or really deal with it at all. But at the same time, as they described the story I would later read, I felt a tugging in my heart, a hope that I might find some answers and relief from a fear that has had a grip on me for so long.

The next day, one of those friends had brought her copy of the book to work to give to me, and I began to feel that I couldn't back down from reading it. I needed to face my fear and at least read the book. To give you a better idea of the contents of the book, you should really watch this interview from the Today Show with Matt Lauer and the Burpo family about their son Colton's heavenly experience:

The book retells the events that took place when their then four year old son Colton's appendix burst, nearly ending his life. Some time after he received life saving surgery and had miraculously recovered, Colton began sharing astounding accounts of things, both earthly and heavenly, that he couldn't have known outside of Divine encounters. There are many summaries of the book you can easily find online, as well as numerous critiques of the book and of the Burpo family. Many even call the whole thing a scam.

I think you should read the book and decide for yourself before you allow anyone, believer or not, Christian or Athiest, to tell you what to think. Think for yourself.

What was most compelling to me about the story was Colton. My youngest child is the age he was when he had his life changing encounter. When you have children, or know young children and have a comprehension of their precious spirits, you know how believable they are because of their innocence. Now, my little Alec sure can tell a story, and often comes home from daycare telling me about how he went to the zoo or Mickey Mouse's house, or any other myriad of experiences that I know are made up. That being said, I know when my little man is telling the truth. I know when he is compelled by something truly moving and real. Specifically, Colton could recall events that happened while he was unconscious that he couldn't have known about, as well as very specific Biblical references that his parents knew without a doubt he had had no previous exposure to. These are certainly reasons to think twice and consider his claims just as the book title implies, as real.

Do I believe in Heaven now? I can't tell you 100% yes, but I can tell you I have a lot less fear. I feel hopeful, and I want to see what Colton saw. I feel peace. Do I feel ready to die? Nope - I have far too much living left to do yet, and I do believe what my sweet Momma told me so many years ago, that God won't take me until I'm ready. Most likely it will be when He's ready, but I certainly can't pretend to know which is more plausible!

I don't want to tell you the rest of the story. I really want you to read it for yourself. And when you do, please come back and share with me your impression.

In my opinion, it's a great book, and there's a very good reason why it's on the New York Times Best Seller List!

thankful for honey in this life and the next,

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