Friday, January 20, 2012

Heaven is for Real

     So, I had testimony buidling experience on the way to work today. Ha. I know, random. I was driving south on I-15 way too fast cuz I was late for work, and I saw a billboard with a picture of the Savior on it. It was an add for a local church saying that Jesus was our only way to God and quoted John 3:16. And it reminded me of a book I read recently called "Heaven is for Real."

     Justin and I went to his hometown of Erie, PA over Christmas. His dad and stepmom aren't members of the church, but have their own beliefs about God and religion. His stepmom Cathy especially. She's very sweet and has always been very accepting of others and their beliefs. (Justin is the only active member of his family.) Anyway, I can't remember under what context it was, but she was telling me about this book called Heaven is for Real and said that I should read it. She said she knew we all had our own beliefs and she really didn't care what they were as long as we believed in God in some way. She said the book was about this little boy who supposedly has a near death experience and comes back talking all about heaven. Anyway, she gave me this book and told me to read it.

     I didn't actually start reading it till the end of the plane ride home. Had i started at the beginning, I would have finished it before it was over. It's not very long. And it was really really good. It starts out talking about this little boy named Colton Burpo, age 4, who got sick and ended up in the hospital. His parents were given little to no hope but luckily he pulled through. After the surgeries, Colton started talking about how he knew what was going on while he was in surgery, (his dad praying and his mom talking on the phone.) It seemed odd that he knew those things since he was never told. Then he started talking about his little sister who his mother had miscarried, (who he didn't know about) and his great grandpa who he had never met. He also spoke about sitting on Jesus' lap and learning from him. He said Jesus has markers on his hands and feet and wore a purple sash and a gold crown and that he sat on the right side of his Dad's big chair. He said that Jesus and Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit are two different people, not all one like most churches teach. He said he met Jesus' cousin John the Baptist and he was so nice. He also talked about a war that was coming and how we all needed to be ready for it.
     It was told by his dad and the related in Colton's words and they were very innocent. He didn't even know the word for sash, just said that Jesus had a purple thing that "went from here to here" while motioning from his shoulder to the opposite side of his waist. It was all very sweet and reading what he said about the Savior actually made me cry. Thinking about this little boy sitting in the Savior's lap, learning about all kinds of things made me really smile. Anyway, I'm not sure how to describe the way it made me feel, but I really enjoyed reading it. It took all of 2 days once I started, and that's only because I had other things I had to do. ha. It's only 150 pages or so.

     Anyway, the point of the blog.... After all the stories were told in the book, the dad, who is a pastor, talks about the way it affected him and his family. he says they always knew about heaven, and knew it was real, but couldn't see it, and had a hard time REALLY believing it was all true. This experience gave them the reassurance to know that they REALLY were going to see their loved ones again, and there REALLY was life after death. So here comes the testimony builder, that for some reason came to me while I was driving this morning. I really enjoyed reading the book, and was impressed with what Colton knew, that was all doctrinally sound, but it didn't really reassure me that it's real. And that's becuase I already knew. I've never had a near death experience that sent me to heaven, but I don't have a doubt in my mind that everything I know is true, and that there is life after death, and that heaven is for real. I know it a little differently than Colton does, mostly because he was describing it from a 4 year old perspective, but at the same time, it's the same. I know my Savior is in Paradise, sitting at the right hand of his Father. I know my family members who have passed on are there, busy with missionary work, waiting to see us again. I know my Savior would comfort a child, hold him on his lap and teach him of truths of the gospel. And I know he still has the marks in his hands and feet to show who he is. (although I imagine that when I do get the opportunity to kneel at his feet, I won't need to see the markers to know.) I think it's great that this little boy was able to help so many people with the testimony he gave. But I'm more grateful that I don't need that kind of experience to know. I know because I recognize the Savior's hand in my life and I know He lives.  

   So, if you have a few hours to read a good book, I highly recommend it. Here are a few photos of them. :)

Colton and his dad, Todd, at the age of the incident.

After his experience, everytime Colton and his parents would ask his what Jesus looked like. Everytime they saw a picture of the Savior, they would ask Colton and he would always say it was wrong for whatever reason. Until he found this picture...

It was drawn by a little girl who had a similar experience to Colton. In the book it talks about how the two of them met and talked and talked and talked about the things they saw and they were all the same. This girl was an art prodigy and was able to draw this picture, along with many others. I think it's a beautiful depiction of the Savior.  

This is a video of the family with Colton telling a bit of his story.
(I know he says that everyone has wings, and I know angels in heaven do not, in fact, have wings. I can reconcile this by saying that he was only 4 and had to describe what he saw with words that he knew. So maybe it looked like it to him. But who knows!)