My Other People’s Words are a little different this Monday. I’m reading Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent. I feel like everyone has heard about this book. It’s a New York Times bestseller. In case you haven’t heard of it, the subtitle explains it pretty well, A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back. I haven’t finished this book so I don’t have complete thoughts yet, but so far, I love the father’s transparency in the retelling of their rough journey and the straightforward recounting of Colton Burpo’s experience with God. It is incredible, really.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Colton, you said Jesus had markers. You mean like markers that you color with?”
Colton nodded. “Yeah, like colors. He had colors on him.”
“Like when you color a page?”
“Well, what color are Jesus’ markers?”
“Red, Daddy. Jesus has red markers on him.”
At that moment, my throat nearly closed with tears as I suddenly understood what Colton was trying to say. Quietly, carefully, I said, “Colton, where are Jesus’ markers?”
Without hesitation, he stood to his feet. He held out his right hand, palm up and pointed to the center of it with his left. Then he held out his left palm and pointed with his right hand. Finally, Colton bent over and pointed to the tops of both feet.
“That’s where Jesus’ markers are, Daddy.” he said.
I drew in a sharp breath. He saw this. He had to have.
We know where the nails were driven when Jesus was crucified, but you don’t spend a lot of time going over those gruesome facts with toddlers and preschoolers. In fact, I didn’t know if my son had ever seen a crucifix. Catholic kids grow up with that image, but Protestant kids, especially young ones, just grow up with a general concept: “Jesus died on the cross.”
It is very easy to be skeptical of any book talking about near death experiences, and I think I brought a fair amount of skepticism to the reading of this book, but I have been struck by Colton Burpo’s four year old descriptions of the Jesus I know. In fact, yesterday I was reading this book in a public place and was embarrassed a few different times when I started to cry. It is hard to argue with someone’s personal experience. It is even harder to argue with the experience of a four year old boy. Especially when those experiences are backed up by the Bible you believe in and the personal experiences you’ve had with God.
Again, I feel the need to say that I have not finished this book, so my review thus far is an incomplete one. I do know, however, that I love the dialogue this book has ignited. A few different family members have been reading this book and we’ve been talking about it in our family Bible study. I love the discussions we have had about heaven and about the generosity of God. There is something about the perspective of a four year old that encourages us to lean into the reality of heaven in a new way, regardless.