I’m all moved in, so I can finally write up the review for Heaven Is For Real. I’ve already told you that it’s awesome, so let’s dive right in!
After days of misdiagnoses and prolonged severe pain, three-year-old Colton Burpo, the son of a small-town pastor, is rushed in for an emergency appendectomy. After several complications, the prognosis is so grim that the nurses are instructed not to give the family any hope about Colton’s potential for recovery. However, after a particularly intense prayer session hosted by members of the church’s congregation, Colton miraculously recovers, escaping death’s grip and returning to his “smiling and chipper” self. Four months later, Colton stuns his parents with an astounding message delivered in the casual manner of a child:
“Do you remember the hospital, Colton?”
“Yes, Mommy, I remember. . . . That’s where the angels sang to me. . . . Jesus had the angels sing to me because I was so scared.”
Over the course of the next few years, Colton reveals to his parents more details about his trip to heaven, Jesus, and the people he met there–including the daughter his mother lost to a miscarriage.
According to the Burpo family and those that know Colton, it’s a true story.
I’ll be honest. I went into this book expecting another The Shack, which jaded me. I tend to approach “true-story-God-is-real-and-talked-to-me-and-now-I’m-writing-this-best-seller” books with a certain degree of cynicism, even though I firmly believe those things can really happen. I believed that The Shack was based on a true story, and the combination of disappointment and embarrassment that I felt when I realized I was mistaken scared me away from Christian literature for a little while. Religious literature–Christian, in my case–is tricky. I’ve found that a good chunk of Christian literature falls into approximately three categories: 1) those who are too scared to say anything too offensive or controversial, so they wind up saying little of anything, 2) those who want to force their beliefs and interpretations onto their readers, as though their word was as good as God’s, and 3) those who are so cheesy that I can’t even make it through (this is mainly, and unfortunately, religious fiction).
Luckily, there is a blessed (see what I did there?) fourth category–the books in which I not only find value, but actually enjoy reading. Heaven Is For Real is undoubtedly one of those books.
Not once did I feel like the authors were pushing their agenda on me, straining to make me see things their way, or censoring themselves for fear of push-back. Colton’s story is presented in a refreshingly simple manner, with what the back cover copy describes as “disarming innocence and . . . plainspoken boldness.” It feels as if you are sitting in the Burpos’ living room, enjoying a cup of coffee while listening to them tell this amazing story. There is an attitude of “This is what happened. We were shocked too. But it’s true.”
The beauty of this book lies in its simplicity and honesty. There is a sweetness to the text that lets you know that these are sincere people with a beautiful story that they want to share with anyone who will listen.
I said it before and I’ll say it again: read this book.