It's a problem really...this "new" book thing of mine. My husband continues to scold me, point me towards the library and send me on my way, and yet, somehow, I always end up at either Barnes & Noble or Christian Book making my next purchase. Okay, so the reason I'm dragging out this story is because I am pleased to announce that I have not purchased a new book in a few MONTHS. Wahoo! Yahoo! High Five!
With all of the work on the new house and the big move and all, life has just sort of passed me by as well as passed by my bookshelf. However, one of the books that I was planning on buying a couple of months ago is titled Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo. If you know me, you know that I firmly believe that heaven is, indeed, real just as equally as I believe that hell is real, and while the Bible does paint a very clear picture of what heaven is like, I think sometimes it's hard to make it tangible while we're here on earth. I think we don't stop to think about it enough and that it is all too easy to just carry on with our everyday lives, forgetting that there is a living God actively moving behind the scenes of our lives, just waiting for us to call out to Him...hence, my intrigue with the book's title.
Like I mentioned above, I have not purchased any new books in a few months, so imagine my delight when one of my besties sent this book to me for my 30th birthday. It was one of 30 gifts for turning "30", and I couldn't believe that she bought me the very book that I was just looking online to purchase that very same day. Weird stuff.
Anyway, here's the synopsis of the book according to Barnes & Noble:
A young boy emerges from life-saving surgery with remarkable stories of his visit to heaven. Heaven Is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear. Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how "reaaally big" God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit "shoots down power" from heaven to help us. Told by the father, but often in Colton's own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle.
Now, I won't say that this book is outstanding journalism - it's not meant to be, and, perhaps, that's the beauty of it. It's a simple story with a BIG message. It made me smile, it made me cry, but overall, it left me encouraged. So, without further ado, here's what I took away from it...
1. Jesus Christ is actively working on behalf of those who have accepted His sacrifice for their sins and have committed their lives to living for Him, and He is the one and only way to heaven. While I already believe this in my heart as truth, the true story in the book is just another wonderful reminder.
2. NO PRAYER GOES UNHEARD. Our prayers are a sweet offering to God, and He fights on our behalf and moves through each and every one of our prayers. I won't give it away, but I think this book gives a very tangible and excellent example of this. Not only is prayer a form of worship and laying our hurts, fears, challenges and joys at Christ's feet, it is also a direct line to God. It's like having God on speed dial, but knowing that He will always answer, often times in ways that we would never expect. Sometimes, when I struggle with a really difficult situation in my life, I often wonder if God truly hears me. On one hand I know in my heart that He does hear my prayers, but on the other hand, there are times when I can't necessarily see or feel Him moving, and I get discouraged. Prior to reading this book, I had a couple of challenging weeks, but the reminders in this book have truly lifted my spirits and reminded me that while there may be times of testing, God is still faithful and HE will carry me through.
So...after reading this book, I am GREATLY comforted and reminded that we serve a God of compassion who truly hears us when we cry out to Him.
3.We will see and recognize people we know in heaven - loved ones who have gone before us.
4. This young boy witnessed that there are no "old" people in heaven. Even if someone dies at an old age, in heaven they will be in their "prime". If you're already loading up on anti-aging creams, I'm sure you'll take comfort in this. ;)
5. There are animals in heaven. :)
6. There are more colors in heaven than could ever be possible here on earth. The beauty of heaven is beyond our wildest imagination.
7. When we are in heaven, we can see what our loved ones are going through here on earth...and we will pray for them from heaven. If you've ever lost a parent of grandparent or loved one who lived a life of faith, it's comforting to know that they really are watching over us along with Jesus and praying for us.
8. Yes, there are thrones in heaven.
9. Everyone has wings. Cool. :)
10. God loves children. Have you every had a miscarriage or lost a child and really wondered what they would have been like? Someday, you will know and see for your own eyes. They are alive and well in heaven. Also, God uses children in incredible ways to teach those of us who are wise in our own eyes. In the Bible, Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3-4
I think to follow God, we need in a way to have the sort of fearless, reckless abandon that a child has. Have you ever noticed how little children just call things as they see them? I think as adults, we spend so much time over-thinking and analyzing and second guessing, that we trap ourselves by all of the "what if's" and fears that we allow to creep into our lives. In this book, the little boy Colton, shares his experience in heaven with the innocence and uninhibited candor of a four year. I think that is what maybe draws me in the most about his story.
11. Satan is very real. Hell is extremely real, and our decision to follow Christ with the same reckless abandon of a child is the deciding factor between an eternity in heaven or eternity in hell. I don't really know why I chose to write this book review this afternoon on my crafting/interior design blog where I have never written a book review before; other than, something was tugging at my heart, and I just started typing. I've always been passionate about my faith and sharing the gospel message of Jesus Christ with others, but the truth is a lot of people don't like to hear about it. BUT, I think every now and again, I too need to be reminded that "heaven is for real" but also that hell is for real, and I don't ever want to miss an opportunity to share that truth.
I don't expect everyone who follows my blog to share my beliefs, but my hope and prayer is that even one person would be encouraged today, and that you wouldn't be afraid to look deep within yourself alongside with me and ask the tough questions, and maybe, just maybe today, seek out the one true God that determines your eternity.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:1-3
May you truly be blessed today!