In just about one sitting— praying and crying—I read this book.
The author Todd Burbo admits that although he is a communicator from the pulpit, writing the book was daunting.
Although the writing is adequate, it is the story that sells and turns the pages. How many people die and then live to tell about it? What makes this all the more believable is that death visits a four year old little boy, who calls it like he sees it.
The health challenges and injuries that Todd Burpo underwent gave me the impression of one "Job like" journey. All that happens foreshadows what is to come. I caught on that a broken ankle, a brush with breast cancer as an adult male, and sickness enough to drain a bank account are a cake walk compared to what this family endures through their precious young son, Colton. Todd’s wife, Sonja also shares her grief with miscarriage.
I felt this family’s pain. I also rejoiced with them. Isn’t that what good writing is?
During his time spent in heaven, Colton enjoyed meeting his grandfather for the first time and sitting on the lap of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Jesus loved Colton, (in the way that only Jesus would), assuring him of peace in the midst of war, but also victory. Colton developed, in just minutes, conviction that when we die, we need to know Christ as mortals in order to live forever with him in Heaven.
So many details of Colton’s heavenly trip were revealed over time. Gradually, the Burpos’ pen scrawled it on paper. I imagine Todd feverishly taking notes working callouses on fingers.
Todd Burpo nodded to the Catholic Church a couple of times throughout the story. Towards the end, he said that he was often asked by Catholics if Colton saw Mary, the mother of Jesus, in heaven and what was she like? As a little child leads, Colton simply answered,
“Yes. he said that sometimes Mary is kneeling before the throne of God and at other times standing besides Jesus.... She still loves him like a Mom.”
How reassuring that God would allow Colton to witness Mary in this simple state of grace.
Colton’s experience fits his family’s view and theology a bit formulaic, but it got me thinking.
What I am coming to believe is that heaven is bliss, based upon what each can handle.
Over dinner with our son, Scott and his friend, I brought this up. Jimmy said that Dante would probably agree. I felt an assuring pat on the back. All of heaven isn’t egalitarian. Jimmy referred to St. Therese of Lisieux in describing the image of a thimble and a bucket. If comparing two souls, we can see a contrast that although both are fully happy, they still contain different measures. Some are just fine with a thimble full. Another’s capacity resembles a bucket, sloshing and brimming over.
Overall, this is a story for our time. It assured me that God honors childlike faith.
If you have read this book, please comment. What impressed you?