Heaven Is for Real by Todd Burpo

Colton Burpo:  “Heaven is for Real”

 You may have seen Colton Burpo on “Good Morning America,” or on one of the other talk shows. Or you may have read one of the 2.5 million copies sold of “Heaven is for Real,” the book in which Colton’s father tells his young son’s amazing story.  This story has a wonderful spirit to it.  It is a touching thing to learn from a child who has been to heaven and back.  They have no agenda and simply wish to share with others what they saw and learned while in heaven.

 Colton’s mother, Sonja Burpo, was still grieving over the loss of a child through miscarriage when three year old Colton himself became very ill. For five days his body filled with toxins from a misdiagnosed burst appendix. It appeared the Burpo’s would soon lose a second child. Finally a correct diagnosis was achieved and Colton underwent surgery. 

The crisis was not over yet, for during surgery Colton “died.” His heartbeat flat-lined and all vital functions ceased. Fortunately, the doctors were able to revive him and the surgery was successful. To the parents’ relief, prayers were answered and Colton was on the mend.

Now to the rest of the story…as three year old Colton recovered he began revealing astonishing bits of knowledge about heaven he had acquired in a near-death-experience or NDE. While his body and brain were “dead” during surgery, his living spirit went to heaven where “Nobody is old and nobody wears glasses.”

Next is an excerpt from the day Colton helped his mother overcome grief regarding her miscarried child:

I heard Colton’s footsteps padding up the hallway and caught a glimpse of him circling the couch, where he then planted himself in front of Sonja.

“Mommy, I have two sisters,” Colton said.

I put down my pen. Sonja didn’t. She kept on working.

Colton repeated himself. “Mommy, I have two sisters.”

Sonja looked up from her paperwork and shook her head slightly. “No, you have your sister, Cassie, and. . . do you mean your cousin, Traci?”

“No.” Colton clipped off the word adamantly. “I have two sisters. You had a baby die in your tummy, didn’t you?”

At that moment, time stopped in the Burpo household, and Sonja’s eyes grew wide…

“Who told you I had a baby die in my tummy?” Sonja said, her tone serious.

“She did, Mommy. She said she died in your tummy.”

Then Colton turned and started to walk away. He had said what he had to say and was ready to move on. But after the bomb he’d just dropped, Sonja was just getting started. Before our son could get around the couch, Sonja’s voice rang out in an all-hands-on-deck red alert. “Colton Todd Burpo, you get back here right now!”

Colton spun around and caught my eye. His face said, “What did I just do?”

I knew what my wife had to be feeling. . . . We had explained it to Cassie; she was older. But we hadn’t told Colton, judging the topic [of miscarriage] a bit beyond a four-year-olds capacity to understand. . . .

A bit nervously, Colton slunk back around the couch and faced his mom again, this time much more warily. “It’s okay, Mommy,” he said. “She’s okay. God adopted her.”

Sonja slid off the couch and knelt down in front of Colton so that she could look him in the eyes. “Don’t you mean Jesus adopted her?” she said.

“No, Mommy. His Dad did!”

Sonja turned and looked at me. In that moment, she later told me, she was trying to stay calm, but she was overwhelmed. Our baby. . . was—is—a girl, she thought.

Sonja focused on Colton, and I could hear the effort it took to steady her voice. “So what did she look like?”

“She looked a lot like Cassie,” Colton said. “She is just a little bit smaller, and she has dark hair.”

…Now Colton went on without prompting. “In heaven, this little girl ran up to me, and she wouldn’t stop hugging me,” he said in a tone that clearly indicated he didn’t enjoy all this hugging from a girl.

“Maybe she was just happy that someone from her family was there,” Sonja offered. “Girls hug. When we’re happy, we hug.”

Colton didn’t seem convinced.

Sonja’s eyes lit up and asked, “What was her name? What was the little girl’s name?”

Colton seemed to forget about all the yucky girl hugs for a moment. “She doesn’t have a name. You guys didn’t name her.”

How did he know that?

“You’re right, Colton,” Sonja said. “We didn’t even know she was a she.”

Then Colton said something that still rings in my ears: “Yeah, she said she just can’t wait for you and Daddy to get to heaven.”

From the kitchen table, I could see that Sonja was barely holding it together. She gave Colton a kiss and told him he could go play. And when he left the room, tears spilled over her cheeks.

“Our baby is okay,” she whispered. “Our baby is okay.”

From that moment on, the wound from one of the most painful episodes of our lives, losing a child we had wanted very much, began to heal. . . .

We had wanted to believe that our unborn child had gone to heaven. Even though the Bible is largely silent on this point, we had accepted it on faith. But now, we had an eyewitness: a daughter we had never met was waiting eagerly for us in eternity. From then on, Sonja and I began to joke about who would get to heaven first…We constantly tell each other, “I’m going to beat you to heaven and name her first!”

I was delighted when I saw Colton interviewed on one of the morning shows.  The lady commentator was puzzled how a miscarried child could be in heaven.  Colton explained it rather matter of fact.  “Well, she is my sister, and just because she did not live long enough to be with us, she is God’s child and he took her to His house”.  “We will see her again someday, when we go to heaven.”

I loved it! 

 From the mouth of babes we can learn many profound things–if we will only take the time to listen.

[i] Burpo, Todd, Heaven is for Real, (Thomas Nelson, Nashville TN) pp.94-97



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