Thursday, February 20, 2014

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

This is not my usual book. In fact, when my book club members picked it to be one of TWO books we're reading in February, I scoffed. Just in my head because that would be rude.

But I was surprised that I really enjoyed this one. It was not without its issues, but on the whole, as a Christian and as a mom, it touched me. 

Todd Burpo, his wife, and their children live in small town Nebraska. Todd is a pastor, and when his son, Colton, nearly loses his life to a burst appendix that goes untreated for a week, his faith is tested. After the surgery, his son begins to divulge details that indicate that he had some sort of supernatural, out-of-body, and decidedly spiritual experience. In short, he went to heaven!

I am a questioner of all the things. While I am very much a Christian, I've had my share of skepticism over the years. As I was reading about the details Colton divulged to his family, I did try to "debunk" his story. And it's certainly possible. But does it matter? Not really. 

I'll tell you a quick personal story. Back in 2009, when I found out I was pregnant, I was immeasurably terrified of telling my mom because....awkward! Unmarried and having a baby. I'm sure it wasn't her plan for me. I finally worked up the courage to tell her, and while she wasn't happy with me, I felt relieved to have gotten it off my chest. We got off the phone after that first conversation with some things still unresolved, and I had a little crying fit, but it wasn't too long before she called me back to smooth some things over and assure me that all would be fine. Here's where things get...odd. 

My grandparents were two of the most important people in my life, and they both passed away in 2002. I was incredibly close to my grandfather, and we had a bond unlike I've ever had with anyone else. He was so special to me, and me to him. We kept their home landline phone number after they passed and had it changed over into my mom's name. So, for about seven years, the caller ID displayed my mom's name...until that day that she called me back to tell me it was going to be fine. That day, and every day until shortly before my son's birth, the caller ID suddenly and inexplicably displayed my grandfather's name. Not the name he'd had on their account when they were alive, but his "everyday" name that everyone actually called him. 

Can I explain it away? Oh yes. A technical glitch? A coincidence? Sure! But I choose to believe, in all my skepticism, that I was given a little gift. A little extra assurance that we were being watched over and that my son would be blessed. 

Those who want to believe will believe. Those who don't, won't. It's really that simple. This book touched me even more as a mom since I can't imagine being in that same position with my own child, and I feel certain if I had some of the same conversations with him that the Burpos had with Colton, I would also feel changed and blessed. 

So aside from the whole issue of whether this kiddo spent time in heaven, something tangible I can say about the book is that the writing was not great. I found it to be a little cheesy and stilted at times, but the story was enough to suck me in and help me look past that. 

If you're looking for a quick, light read that might make you cry, this one might do the trick.

Pub. Date: November 2010
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Format: Trade Paperback
ISBN: 0849946158 
Source: Bought it!

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