This week, Amy reviews the book Heaven is For Real. With the movie being released to coincide with the Easter season, we thought you would be interested.
I’m guessing it’s a safe assumption to say that not many of us have visited Heaven and lived to tell about it. I know I certainly haven’t. But, in Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo, he tells the story of his 4-year-old son, Colton, who claims to have been through the pearly gates during a life threatening illness and subsequent surgery.
Following a misdiagnosis and an untreated ruptured appendix, Colton (a pastor’s son) finally underwent an emergency appendectomy through which he was not expected to live. When he miraculously emerged, his Christian parents were beyond overjoyed.
Four months later, Colton continued to astound his parents, leaving them speechless, with his revelation that he had left his body during the surgery and spent a total of three minutes in Heaven. Being a pastor, Colton’s father Todd (the author) worked carefully and cautiously to piece together Colton’s account of Heaven in the following several months.
The tale that emerges is endearing, profound, and amusing at times as it is recounted in a four year old’s terms and understanding. While the book is a feel good story for the Christian reader, it honestly left me feeling unchallenged. The writing is simplistic enough that I was able to read the book in it’s entirety during a few sessions of riding the stationary bike at the gym. In other words, as my mind wandered occasionally to a breathless “oh my goodness, is my time on this bike almost up?” or “please tell me I’ve burned a billion calories in the last ten minutes,” I still found myself completely comprehending everything I was reading in my scattered focus. That’s abnormal for me. Typically, if my mind wanders, I’ve got to reread the last page or two to understand what I’ve just read. This time, that was not the case.
Just as it was not intellectually challenging for me, nor was it spiritually or emotionally challenging for me. As I said, it was an easy read. Other than the warm fuzzy feelings I received while reading it, it did nothing to actually confirm or discount my own beliefs of Heaven. I’m sure we are all well aware that folks interpret the Bible in many ways… often to suit or justify their own fleshly thoughts or desires. The thing is… either you believe the Bible or you don’t. Either you’re a doubting Thomas or you’re not. Reading a novel about Heaven doesn’t change that for me one way or another, and I kind of hope it doesn’t change anything for you, either. Because, truly, the Bible is the ultimate authority. It just so happens that what Todd Burpo has to say on the matter lines up pretty well with my belief of the Bible. I suppose it might have been more of a challenge if it didn’t.
So, if you’re looking for a quick, easy read that likely validates everything you’ve hoped for about Heaven, this is the book for you! Sure, I enjoyed Heaven Is For Real, but it will not be added to my list of favorites. Hopefully the next book I pick up will challenge my emotions, intellect, or even my beliefs. As with anything, I’m a firm believer that growth comes from challenge… so long as you have a good head on your shoulders.