Every now and then, a book falls into your hands when you most need it. About five years ago, the book that gave my family hope and renewed our faith was a little book called Heaven Is For Real. For those who haven’t read it or seen the movie, the story recounts the experiences that Colton, a four-year-old boy, relates from visits, which he said he made to heaven during a near-death experience. He came back talking about things about their family, that his parents never told him, and little by little, his pastor father began to realize his little boy’s ramblings were the real thing.
Heaven Is For Real was the only book that my mom (in her 90’s) read voraciously from start to finish in a couple of sittings: a feat that truly spoke of her need for hope.
And here’s why…
Five years ago, my brother Murray had to stay home from work for a whole week with severe leg and foot pain. (It’s just a bit of plantar fasciitis, he told me) While I was helping him prepare meals, he also complained of difficulty swallowing. I dragged him to his doctor, and wasn’t surprised when Murray was quickly admitted to hospital.
After he endured several days of procedures, I arrived to the hospital one day to find curtains drawn around his bed. Then a doctor backed out, saying, “Sorry. I wish I had better news.”
Dread washed over me. I deflated into a chair by his bed and took Murray’s hand. Seeing his tears instantly made me cry.
Fear and disbelief lined his face. “It’s cancer! They think it started in my esophagus and has spread to my liver. My legs are sore because I have clots in the veins!” He gripped my hand as if it were the only thing keeping him from falling into a chasm.
Anxiety clenched my stomach.
Details of those moments are etched in my memory: the terror in his eyes, the steady beep of his monitor, and tears dripping off his chin making dark spots on his blue hospital gown.
We cried and clung to each other. I prayed for strength for Murray. But we both knew that he didn’t have much more time on earth. However, we weren’t prepared that he would only have about three weeks to live.
Murray was literally ripped from our lives. We had no time to adapt or comprehend what just happened to our normally boisterous, larger-than-life brother.
We desperately needed to be reminded that we would be seeing him again. And the book Heaven Is For Real was given to me by a friend.
Of course, as a Christian, I knew about heaven and read about it in the bible. But here was a timely and solid example of how God was reminding me that we would indeed see Murray again. My mom was too overwhelmed and confused at 93 to understand completely what Murray had or why he could have gone so quickly. It’s just not right or natural that a mother should be burying a child.
When the Heaven Is For Real movie came out, my mom and I went three times. And she would have gone again, (that little Colton was such a great actor) if she had her way.
About a month ago, I stumbled on the Heaven Is For Real website, and pressed the contact button before I knew it. What could I lose? Imagine my surprise when they got back in touch with me granting me an interview with Todd Burpo, the pastor and author of the book!
I thought I would open it up to you, as to the questions I would ask in the interview. What would you like me to ask Todd about his life, his experiences, his family, how the movie came to be, etc? In my next blog, I will have been able to interview Todd Burpo with your questions (and a few of my own of course).