Monday, July 28, 2014
Heaven Is For Real
Last night Joel and I watched "Heaven is for Real" on DVD. We had both read the book a couple of years ago and we were looking forward to seeing the movie. It is the true story of a young boy named Colton Burpo who visits heaven during an emergency surgery to save his life. He has what is called a "near death" experience without being near death. What he sees and who he encounters in Heaven makes the book and the movie very powerful and thought provoking. After watching the movie I have taken the book back off the shelf to read again.
I have seen in the cyber world, skeptics that question whether this story is authentic or not. They question whether Colton Burop is telling the truth or whether his dad, Pastor Todd Burpo is making it all up for reasons they are eager to list. Maybe, like members of pastor Todd's church believed at the beginning, Colton just had a vivid imagination at age 4. Even his parents were unsure until he spoke to them about information only they knew, that was revealed to him while he was in Heaven. Amazing. This kind of story deepens our faith and widens our understanding of God, or.....it brings in: Skepticism. Questioning. Unbelief.
We have all been there, I expect, in one circumstance or another. Experiencing something that shakes up our faith or brings God out of the comfortable box we have put Him into. This may induce unbelief or skepticism based often from fear or lack of knowledge. Hopefully it challenges us to grow in our faith. (Today I am only speaking of God's Spiritual realm. Unfortunately the devil and his legions are also part of that mysterious world we cannot see.)
We hear about people who see angels, go through near death experiences, are overcome by the presence of God, or hear God's voice speaking to them. All these and more encompass the Spiritual realm which takes trust more than understanding to embrace. My first encounter with the spiritual realm goes back to 1972. I was kneeling at the altar of the Tabernacle church in Duluth Mn, praying with my eyes closed and hands folded. As I felt someone take my hands and unfold them lifting them up in praise, I smiled, opening my eyes to see who was there. My eyes found no one. There was not anyone nearby. I could still feel the warmth of someone's hands on mine, but that someone was invisible to me in this world. This encounter inspired me more times than I can count. In the past several months I have once again been connecting with God from the Spiritual realm, with the Holy Spirit overpowering me. I call it Holy Spirit hugs. Again, this is not really understood, and certainly cannot be reasoned out, but we know what we know...and it has changed my life and deepened my relationship with Jesus. For that I am grateful.
Joel has his own stories to share, like feeling the presence of angels so strong as a protection that it overwhelmed him and brought him to tears. Each time God opens the door just a small crack to the Spiritual realm beyond, we are so, so blessed.
I am sure you have your own stories to share of how God has made Himself known in your lives. Just like in the movie we watched, we don't always understand or even welcome it. But God is God and He delights in us, wanting to have an intimate relationship with us. He also wants to use us for His purpose and for His glory. The movie certainly stirred up conversation with each other and with God. There is so much we do not understand, but that is where trust comes in. Nothing is impossible with God, and that includes a four year olds visit to Heaven where he sat on Jesus' lap, talked with his great grandpa and met his sister who had died long before he was born.