Heaven has to be one of the very few things that people believe exists (far reached from their actual (non-)belief in someone having actually created heaven, let alone earth). It’s a nice idea. It’s a pleasant thought, and somehow makes some the bad times in life that much more endurable–the thought that if your life were to end today, you or some part of “you” would end up in this place people call heaven, usually verbally stated along with a hand gesture pointing towards the sky, perhaps also accompanied by a brief glimpse “up.”
The big question even for those who joyfully refer to it being “up there” is whether it really does exist. For those who have read their Bibles and trust the words and teaching within it, it is very clear that heaven is a real place where God has “prepared a place” for those who have chosen to accept the gift of salvation provided through Christ’s death and resurrection. Even if you’ve read it in the Bible, you will be left with many questions around what the experience of heaven will really be like.
That’s what is so unique about the book “Heaven is for Real” by Todd Burpo. To be clear, I have not read the actual book, although I do have the audio version on my iPod ready for my listening. I have however read through the Conversation Guide, a small booklet that is accompanied by a DVD, forming the Heaven is for Real Conversation Kit. The Kit is designed for personal use, in a small group, or with your children at home.
The guide is divided into five sessions and each session has its own clip on the accompanying DVD. The sessions are well laid out, providing many questions to try and draw out thought and discussion surrounding the topic of heaven. Throughout the guide and featured in the DVD, reference of course is made to the author’s son, Colton, and his experience where his heart briefly stopped during an emergency appendectomy, and he took a trip to heaven and back. In the DVD, Colton explains some of his experiences in heaven, what he saw, what he remembers and felt. To have experienced something that is generally only left for those who have died and remain dead, unable to recall the story to the living, this experience and story is quite something to hear and read.
While I read through the guide and viewed the DVD, I was left anxious for more, wanting to go deeper on the subject. The book is tuned well to its purpose: personal discussion, or with a small group or your family. Unfortunately, that’s the part that I didn’t like. It left me wanting more. Now I spent four years studying theology, so I’m not surprised this guide and DVD didn’t satisfy my appetite for learning more about heaven. I want to hear something new. But for it’s intended purpose, the Kit I believe would be well suited for those who are young, as well as those who are new followers of Jesus Christ, as it is very introductory. And that’s ok. Actually I really appreciate that one of the purposes of the book is clearly to offer an opportunity for those reading and watching to consider accepting Christ as their Saviour, through the discussion around heaven and its existence.
I am definitely looking forward to reading (or listening to) Heaven is for Real. For now, I think i am going to pass on this Conversation Kit to our Junior High teachers at church, as I think it would well-suited to that particular age group in our congregation.