Heaven for me has always been something I’ve believed in. You can call it a Southern Church thing, but talking about death and heaven for me was just a normal part of life.
When I was a little girl, death was not something that was hid from me. It was just taught to me as a natural part of life. My best friends parents use to take us to wakes and funerals so often that for me they were just as normal as going to the mall or the store.
My friend and I would sign our names in the guest book upon entering using our very best cursive writing. Then would begin the long procession to the front with the adults leading the way, to pay our respects to the deceased. And afterward, we children would be sent out to play and eat. And play and eat we did.
Living in the South, people would bring so many delectable and delicious food to the gatherings. My friend and I would gorge ourselves on pecan pies, ham, pasta salads, lumpy jello molds, cookies and homemade breads until our bellies were bulging. And after eating, we would play in the long hallways and sneak in and out of dark rooms where caskets were stored, playing hide and seek until the last mourner would leave.
I know looking back, it does seem a little strange, but it normalized for me the reality of life and death. Death wasn’t something to fear. It was only the doorway to something more. And that something more is a place called Heaven.
We all one day will have to face our own death-bed however that may come. The uncertainty of what lies beyond the grave is a subject of much debate, but for me it isn’t something that worries me.
For what I know is that the Bible tells me there is a real literal place called Heaven. The Bible also teaches us how we can go there. By repenting of our sins and accepting Jesus Christ as a our Lord and Savior we gain entrance into Heaven because of what He did for us. And it is through Jesus death and Resurrection that I can receive eternal life in Heaven. This is why I don’t worry!
So when I had the opportunity to review the movie Heaven Is For Real, I was like, oh yes! I love talking, watching and reading about Heaven.
The faith-based movie, Heaven Is For Real is based on a book about the true story of 4-year-old Colton Burpo who experienced visiting Heaven while having emergency surgery. In Heaven he saw God, talked with Jesus, listened to the angels sing, talked to his great-grandfather called Pops, and met his older sister who had died before Colton was born. He also tells about Jesus having a horse that was of many colors and describes Jesus as having markers referring to the marks in his hands and feet.
Heaven Is For Real tells the story of the Burpo family, Todd, Sonja, Cassie and Colton. After Colton’s emergency surgery, Colton begins to reveal over a period of days, in such a realistic and nonchalant way, about his experiences in Heaven while on the operating table. As children are prone to do, he shares this information about what happened to him in bits and pieces over time.
His father Todd, who happens to be a preacher, and you would think, the least likely to struggle with what has happened, wrestles spiritually with Colton’s experiences of visiting Heaven. Todd struggles with his faith while he processes what has happened to his son.
As word spreads of Colton’s experience, the Burpos receive a wide range of responses, from curiosity and intrigue to skepticism and derision.
Friends, Church Members and even the community question the validity of Colton’s experiences and want Todd to focus on the old way of doing things in the Church. Jay Wilkins and Nancy Rawling , church board members and Burpo family friends, deliver an ultimatum: more preaching and less Heaven or the church will find a new pastor.
Soon, even a frustrated Sonja implores Todd to focus on this life rather than the next one, especially considering the family’s severe financial struggles.
Yet, Todd believes his son experienced Heaven, and is further convinced when Colton reveals that he met a healthy, younger version of “Pop” – Todd’s grandfather who passed away before Colton was born. Colton convinces Sonja as well when he innocently mentions meeting his other older sister – the one who died in Sonja’s “tummy” – during his visit to Heaven.
With renewed faith and a desire to explore and accept God’s purpose for Colton’s experience, Todd invites the community to the next church service and delivers a much-anticipated message. Todd tells the congregation that, yes, God allowed Colton to experience a version of Heaven; that faith opens our eyes to eternal matters; that we are to love one another the way God loves us; that Heaven is definitely for real.
*At the end of the film, Todd sees a news report on TV about Akiane Kramarik, the Lithuanian girl who painted a breathtaking portrait of Jesus after experiencing Heaven herself. When Colton views the portrait, he is astonished; it is the only picture he’s seen that truly captures Jesus appearance.
Bring the tissues. This movie will take your emotions on a roller coaster ride. It is a real tear jerker. You’ll experience the struggles every family goes through in life from how to pay the bills to dealing with sickness that seems to always hit at the most inopportune times. The movie delves deeply into what happens when Colton gets sick and almost dies. You’ll feel the highs and lows and travel through the adversity of dealing with a near death experience. If you’ve ever lost a loved one, be prepared for the emotions that may surface as you watch the story of little Colton’s sickness, then get ready to rejoice when he fully recovers.
Your beliefs will also be stretched as you explore along with the family about what happens after you die. Is there a heaven? What does Jesus look like? How old are people there? These are some of the questions that will be answered in this movie. And so much more.
I was especially surprised when Todd, Colton’s dad and a pastor struggles with what has happened to his son and wrestles with what he believes.I was pleased that they showed the progression of his spiritual growth as he fights the fight of faith. I mean don’t we all as Christians struggle with faith at times? I know I do even though I’m a Christian.
I did feel a disconnect with the mother in the movie after Colton’s returns home and begins to open up about his visit to heaven. She seemed almost indifferent at times, or maybe she just couldn’t deal with what had happened. I don’t really know, I just felt like if I had been Colton’s mother I would have wanted to know more about what had happened to him. I would have been more involved in asking questions and exploring the experiences he had in Heaven. But by the end of the movie, after Colton tells his mom about seeing his sister in Heaven that something broke in her. Whatever emotional wall she had built up around her heart came down. At this point I no longer felt a disconnect with her character.
The movie also explores how Colton’s experiences affect the community and the congregation where Colton’s dad preaches. Specifically, one woman who has become bitter after the death of her own son many years before. She asks the question in the movie, why did God give you your son back and take mine? I think this is a question that all parents ask when they have lost a child when another lives.
Heaven is for Real is an inspiring, unforgettable faith-filled movie that will leave you feeling hopeful and full of faith and love.
As we all know, movies are not always exactly produced word for word like the book, and this movie was no different. Yet, I think it stuck with the story line enough to convey the main message of faith and hope that there is life after death. That there is a real place called Heaven.
If you missed seeing the movie Heaven Is For Real when it came out in theaters, you can now watch it on Blu-Ray or DVD (July 22). I would also recommend that you pick up a copy of the book, Heaven Is For Real available online and at your local book store.
The Heaven Is Real movie opens with a narrative asking this question. “Is Heaven a hope, or as real as the earth and sky? Colton’s story tells about a real place called Heaven. I believe Heaven is a real place, and I pray if you’re not a believer, this movie will be the catalyst to motivate you to explore the Bible to read the scriptures for yourself to learn more about Heaven and how you can be sure you are going there.
Disclosure: Resourceful Blogger was invited to watch a screening of the movie, Heaven Is For Real for review purposes. My opinion is 100% true and objective.