Yesterday my Mother and I went to see the movie “Heaven Is For Real”. I eagerly awaited the day that it was released to the theaters because I read the book, tears streaming down my face for a good portion of it. The rest of the time I felt a quiet calm in my soul, because even though I already knew that Heaven is real, this simple story as recounted by a minister and father, felt like confirmation to questions that many of us have. So Mom and I were there, for the very first showing on opening day.
For starters, the cast chosen for these parts did an awesome job. I already liked watching Greg Kinnear, but he was perfect for the part of Todd Burpo. The little boy who played Colton was utterly precious – I spent much of the film wanting to give him a hug – and when looking at the pictures shown of the real Burpo family, he truly did resemble the real Colton. It wasn’t over acted at all, and as much as is possible in the shortened span of a movie, stayed true to the book. It was simple, it was clear, it felt real.
For anyone who hasn’t read the book, and without giving away more than the trailers show, the film is based on a true life story. Colton Burpo suffered a burst appendix and nearly died on the operating table. During the time frame of the surgery Colton was allowed to see things that he could not possibly have known or seen, without the loving hand of Jesus guiding him for the journey. The concepts and things he described over the weeks and months following his experience were not things that a child of his age could make up, but as they were revealed to family and friends, they were all things that would strengthen that person’s faith and lift them up where there had been doubt in their hearts.
Faith is one of those things that you have . . . or you don’t. What strikes me as surprising, as I read through different Facebook posts of people criticizing the movie – which is entirely their right – is that many of these people have gone to church their whole lives. They have read the Word of God, learned of the miraculous creation of everything that exists, read of the miracles performed by Jesus, and claim to believe in all of them, yet they can’t have faith that this little boy was allowed to see heaven and come back to witness to the world of the magnificence of God and the wondrous paradise that awaits those who follow Him. Why? Why can some people not accept something this incredible with the same faith and acceptance as a child? Are we not called to be as the little children? To come to the Lord with that simple faith? Just because it doesn’t happen to all of us, doesn’t mean it isn’t real. I believe Heaven is for real! Without this movie, without this book, I believe it. Having something like this to confirm the natural human doubts that many people have is a wonderful testimony not only to the mercy God shows us, but the faithfulness of this child and his family, to telling the truths they have been shown, without thought to what the doubts of the masses would do to their privacy and to their reputations. It seems to be standard human nature, sadly, to tear down and destroy that which we do not understand, rather than attempt to understand it.
One of the most heinous things that I read was someone actually comparing this little child’s testimony to someone who seeks to commune with the dead. Did this critic even SEE the movie or read the book? This is NOT what it was about. Colton Burpo was allowed to see that his Grandfather and sister, who had both passed well before he was born, were in heaven. This was a relief to Todd Burpo regarding his father, and to both parents it was a blessing to know that the baby they lost to miscarriage was in heaven and with our Lord. What is so wrong with that? HOW is that communing with the dead as a medium would attempt to do? If we actually believe in Jesus, if we accept the Word as true, and in that Word we are told Heaven is the place prepared for us, then why on earth would we doubt that our loved ones, who were believers or young children, and passed before us would be there waiting? Utter hypocrisy! You cannot have it both ways! You cannot say you believe in Heaven, then pound people into the ground who testify to their experiences as to having been there! When God reveals Himself in a magnificent way, as only God can do, who are WE, mere humans, here at His mercy, to question His ways of soothing the hearts of His people?
Everyone has doubts. It is normal to doubt. God sends answers to soothe those doubts in beautiful, unusual ways. He does this because He loves us and He wants us to have peace in our hearts. I respect that we all have our own opinions, but please, do not put evil where there isn’t any, simply to fan the flames of controversy, which in turn only does harm to another. In this case that harm is to a 14 year old boy who is merely doing as he was instructed, and sharing the story of what he experienced when he was but a small child.
If you get the chance, see this movie and judge for yourself. Better yet, read the book. It is beautiful, it is simple and it will soothe a soul tired of the nonsense that normally passes for entertainment.