Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.
- Mary Oliver
Last week I dropped off my daughter at her dance studio and noticed on the table in the waiting area a book that’s climbed the bestseller lists in recent months: Heaven Is for Real, by Todd Burpo.
The book recounts the story of his son, Colton, who, due to a misdiagnosed medical condition, had a near death experience. In the days that followed, Colton claimed that during the experience he saw deceased relatives, reporting back information about them he couldn’t have previously known, and that he saw angels, even Jesus.
It’s a remarkable story, and you can view a special Guideposts video interview with the author and his son here. Yet when we at Guideposts Books surveyed our readers to see whether it’s a book we should offer in our publishing program, we received some interesting responses. Although some had already heard of the book and perhaps even read it, others relayed that they couldn’t really believe the story. It was too “out there” for them.
I can understand that less-than-enthusiastic response. I once heard someone say that all the time you spend wondering about heaven is time spent worrying about yourself. A more worthwhile pursuit would instead be to aspire to make a difference helping others in the everyday world. That’s a fair point, and yet you can’t help but be curious about experiences that for others are so real, so moving, it becomes a matter not just of belief, but of transformation.
How are we changed by reading a story that seems to lift the veil of our everyday world and let us glimpse something we can’t really understand or explain? Are we changed for good? Does a vision of a heavenly future bring us hope to live out our faith in the present?
Good questions are sometimes more important than answers, and I’m not going to venture any answers here, other than to say that it encourages me that people are curious to read the Burpos’ story, and to seek hope and faith.