“Heaven is for Real”

A couple of weeks ago, Carol and I had the opportunity to see the movie “Heaven is for Real.”
I’m glad we did. I think it’s interesting that, in just the last couple of months, there have been a number of movies with Biblical themes. There has been “Son of God,” “Noah,” “God is not Dead,” and “Heaven is for Real.” I always say that God will use any means necessary to reach us, and that would include the media.

I was heartened by the number of people who were at the movie that day. This is the third of these recent movie releases we’ve seen, and, by far, “Heaven is for Real” had the most people in attendance.

First of all, allow me to say that I loved the book. I love the way that Todd Burpo (the father) writes. It was Todd’s writing about the day-to-day struggles he faced, and the personable way he wrote about his life, that made me not want to put the book down. Before the book moved to the central theme of son Colton’s journey to Heaven, it was about an honest, decent family man, who was facing many struggles. His thoughts and feelings, and how well he communicated to me, personally, is perhaps what I remember most about the book. And, he was also a Pastor.

I can honestly say that I also loved the movie. It was, for me, such a great family movie. And, I really needed to see a real family, a loving family, a Godly family, portrayed up on the big screen. We need more of those. I am reading the series of books written by David Pelzer, beginning with “A Child Called It.” When I saw the movie “Heaven is for Real,” I had just finished reading this first book in the series. I know many of you have read it. It is required reading for many “Early Education/Teaching” courses, and while I was Librarian at the High School, I’d seen the book checked out hundreds of times. But, I had never read it. It is the story of a child who suffered unimaginable, horrific abuse. Each night I would read a chapter, and each of those nights, I just couldn’t get to sleep. As a writer, I try to demonstrate a gift to write things which deeply move people. This book, as hard to read as it was, proved to me how deeply affecting a book can be. Working with young children every day, praying each day to “be a father to the fatherless,” this book moved me as maybe no book ever has. The first chapter begins with young David getting “rescued” from his situation … as I finished reading the final pages of the book … the first thing I did … was to go back and read that first chapter again. I had to … I had to re-establish the fact that he was truly rescued, that he did make it out …

Hey-I’m beginning to think the same thing: Which book am I “reviewing” here? Well … really … neither … I just had to share how great a family movie “Heaven is for Real” is … I had read the book, knew how it ended, and, in this case of the “Heaven” movie, I knew many of the lines (like many of you) by heart … yet, it was still a great movie. And, coming on the heels of reading “A Child Called It,” I really needed to see a loving, Godly family.

So, there you go … I know Heaven is for real, I’ve read the book, etc. But, the movie really touched and moved me deeply. It was so well done. The acting was superb, the “pacing” of the movie was excellent, and the inner plots were intensely captured. There were times I laughed and I cried. And, was deeply moved. See, I already know Heaven is for real, that Jesus is for real, and I’d read the book already. But, I was still on the edge of my seat, enjoying the story. To me, that says it all about how good this movie really is.

I am reminded of that insurance commercial where one person says to another about “15 minutes can save you (whatever) on insurance,” and the other person says, “Yeah … everybody knows that.” So, I knew Heaven is for real before I read the book, or saw the movie. If it takes a movie to convince you of … well, anyway … maybe you really didn’t believe to begin with.

Which I thought was really the whole catalyst behind the story. Real or not real? (Isn’t that a game show?) I know this: In every believer’s life, there comes a time, a point, where they must make the decision about what they really, really believe. Do they really believe the Bible, that God’s word is true? Do we really believe? For many of us, this decision is made over a tragic situation we have to face, or the hardest struggle we’ve ever had to face. We sometimes find that the hardest struggle is the one inside of us. Do we really believe? How about this one: How come they were blessed, allowed to have or experience something we weren’t?
You know from reading the book that this was the underlying struggle that Todd, and others, were having. Do I really believe? I mean, do I really believe???

I do know this, and that is that God can do anything, and there is nothing too hard for Him to do. When God shows me something, He shows and explains it to me in a way that I can understand.
If God was to show a 4 year old something, He would show it to them in a way that a 4 year old boy would understand. I hope you can read between the lines there.

This may be the strangest “movie review” we’ve written, but the point, I hope is clear. I was certain of many things going in, and going out. Still am. I think we need more movies which portray a real, Godly family. Real as in going through real problems, real issues, real times, and staying together through it all, even through doubts and fears. And, coming out stronger, with stronger faith.

A Christian man I work with, whom I encouraged to see the movie, walked into my room the other day, and the first thing he said was, “You’re not right about many things, but you were right about this one.”

I’m not concerned about what “others” may say about the book, or the movie. There are some people who don’t seem to like anything. But, I was interested to hear what Todd Burpo had to say about the movie. So, I’d like to share with you this video from CBN, featuring the Burpo family, from just over a month ago, in an interview with Pat Robertson: