The Reality of the Spirit World
By Ken Walker-
To say that Heaven is for Real is a bestseller is like saying Duck Dynasty is a popular TV show. The book (and cable TV’s biggest hit) moved way beyond that long ago.
One reason I admired Todd Burpo’s book is the skillful hand of co-author Lynn Vincent. When a book sells several million copies, the writing is an integral element.
Those who have read Heaven is for Real may remember the story about young Colton Burpo’s experience at the Butterfly Pavilion near Denver.
The preschooler wanted the sticker that proclaimed the wearer had held Rosie, a black widow at the nature exhibit. However, Colton didn’t want to actually hold the spider, until the family was getting ready to leave and his desire for a sticker overrode his fear.
My wife and I so enjoyed that tale that soon after reading the book we visited the Butterfly Pavilion. The trip was worth the drive from the other end of the metro area, where our son lives.
Having written several features in recent years about books on heaven, many based on supposed visits to heaven or near-death experiences, I appreciated the tenor of Burpo’s story.
Rather than basing a book on a single, dramatic experience, the Nebraska pastor’s account is based on various anecdotes his son shared over an extended period of time.
Colton was too young at the time to be aware of the significance of what he witnessed or caught up in what the public thinks about his experiences.
Yet after slipping out of consciousness during emergency surgery, the boy later described fascinating sights in heaven. Like seeing the miscarried sister who nobody had told him about and the great-grandfather who died 30 years before his birth.
This story is only likely to grow more popular now that production has started on a movie version starring Greg Kinnear. The director is Randall Wallace, who I interviewed in 2010 about his enjoyable Secretariat.
Given the spinoff products and media buzz that has surrounded this book, it is easy to overlook a central reason so many people have “connected” with its message.
I believe that its popularity doesn’t just stem from its descriptions of heaven and Jesus riding a huge horse. No, I think it is the verification from the mouth of a relative babe about the reality of the afterlife and the spirit world.
Since that belief is under increasing attack from New Atheists, secular humanists and other skeptics, it is refreshing when someone not subject to adult wiles or “rational” reasoning shares a story that fills so many with hope.
Alive With Christ
I had my own experience with such a tale this past week. I heard it from an old friend whose wife died the first week of September.
Had he not been an experienced business owner, the former treasurer of an international ministry, and a rational person, even I might have tended to discount what he shared. After all, I’ve heard similar tales and wondered if that really happened.
My friend told about taking a nap one afternoon at the assisted living center where he had been staying before moving back home. Suddenly, he was awakened by someone’s hand touching him: his wife’s. As soon as he looked at her, she disappeared.
Thinking that was impossible since she was dead, he suddenly heard a still small voice say, “She’s alive and enjoying herself. The one that is dead is from Adam, but she is from Christ.”
The Spirit World
My friend left me a phone message about this experience. When we talked in person, he told me that the next afternoon he had heard a voice call him by his middle name—a name that few people knew because he years before he quit using it publicly.
Can I prove that these encounters are for real? No more than Todd Burpo can prove his son’s experiences. While it takes faith to accept that there is more than what we can experience with our five senses, I think those who don’t accept the reality of the spirit world will be surprised when they depart from this earth.