Is heaven for real? Yes, says Colton Burpo, who, at the age of 4, says he visited Heaven during a critical illness and surgery. In the book and movie, “Heaven is for Real,” Colton sees things in Heaven he could not otherwise have known (a sister who died in her mother’s womb; a youthful ‘pops,’ his dad’s grandfather); angels singing to him, and Jesus’ beautiful eyes and multi-colored horse.
Why has this book and movie gained so much attention? Could it be because it comes from the perspective of a young child, too young to be tainted by our adult cynicism or maybe it is because most of us know so little about Heaven and, somewhere in our deepest psyche, we NEED to know what might lie ahead of us following our death.
In his great book, “Heaven,” by Randy Alcorn, of Eternal Perspective Ministries, Alcorn states that “we have failed to explore and explain the Bible’s magnificent teachings about Heaven,” and that is so true!
The New Testament is filled with examples of what happens after death to those who know and love Christ Jesus, the Jewish Messiah. Jesus told the thief on the cross – ‘TODAY you will be with me in Paradise,’ Luke 23:43.
Paul said that to die was “to be with Christ and to be absent from the body was to PRESENT with the Lord,” 2 Corinthians. 5:8.
I found the book, simply called, “Heaven,” shortly after my mother passed away about three years ago. To say that my mother and I were close would be a tremendous understatement.
God had drawn me to Himself in 1977 at a spiritual retreat in Morgantown, West Virginia. The fact that I was there was nothing short of miraculous because I had grown up Jewish in Brooklyn, NY. But questions to the deeper meaning of life (and death) plagued me since childhood and, having tried everything else, I was led by God, through a series of miraculous events, to the retreat.
There, after much wrestling with “what would my Jewish mother think?” I came to realize and understand that Jesus is truly the Jewish Messiah and I surrendered my life to Him, hook, line and sinker. My mother was devastated and immediately flew to Morgantown to deprogram me from the cult she thought I was in.
But after 10 years of prayer by me and many others, my husband and I had the awesome privilege of praying for my mother to receive Jesus as her Messiah as well. So our lives were intertwined deeply as mother and daughter and sisters in the Lord.
And although she was sick and suffered with chronic pain for more than 30 years, her death still hit me like a ton of bricks. I implored God to teach me about Heaven and to show me where my mother was after her passing.
God immediately spoke to me through Hebrews 11:4, which, speaking of Cain and Abel, states, “By faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.”
God told me that my mother – even though dead – would still speak. And so that is what has happened as, now knowing what it feels like to lose a parent or other loved one, I have shared the love and comfort of God with many others who have lost loved ones. And I have shared the miracles of Heaven that God subsequently revealed to me.
I implored God, “I NEED to know what my mother is doing right now,” and was led to a verse in the Song of Songs 4:8, in which, God, speaking to His beloved, says,
“Come with me from Lebanon my bride, descend from the summit of Hermon, from the lions’ den and the mountain haunts of leopards.”
For those who may not know (I didn’t!), Mount Hermon is a cluster of very high mountains in the Golan Heights in Israel.
Why was this so miraculous? It is because my mother’s maiden name is Herman (just a slightly different spelling from Hermon) and because she (and I!) love cats of every kind – little cats, big cats, fat cats, pretty cats, and every other conceivable variation of cats! In our lives together, we had given each other dozens of books and DVDs on cats.
So I believe that God showed me that at this very moment, my mother is hanging around with the big cats! Man, do I want to be there too!
Alcorn states that, “Biblical Christianity does not give up on humanity or the earth. We long for what the first man and woman once enjoyed – a perfect and beautiful Earth with free and untainted relationship with God, each other, animals and our environment. “
He goes on to state that the Bible is filled with clues to the nature of the Eternal Heaven: Heaven is a city. Cities have buildings, culture, art, music, athletics, goods and services, events of all kinds. Cities have people engaged in activities, gatherings, conversations and work.
Heaven is also described as a country. God promises us a New Earth – where we can expect to find earthly things – atmosphere, mountains, water, trees, people, houses, cities, buildings and streets.
“The Biblical doctrine of the New Earth implies something startling – that if we want to know what the ultimate Heaven, our eternal home, will be like, the best place to start is by looking around us,” Alcorn states.
In fact, Alcorn has a whole chapter dedicated to animals in heaven.
And so for now I just tell my mom every day – pet, feed, play with and love on those big cats for me! Can’t wait for the day when we can do so together.