W hat Do Yo u Believe Abo ut Heaven?

REAL Get up early. Take care of the kids. Go to work. Find something for dinner. Get ready for tomorrow. This is real life, and we know all about real life. Cancer. Heart attacks. Car accidents. Suicides. We know death, too. It’s all too real. And then? And then. That’s where we stop. We get quiet. We don’t know what’s real after that. How can we? But what if we could know? What if someone could tell you they’d been there? They’d seen it. They’d visited Heaven… THE SHADOW OF DEATH Three-year-old Colton Burpo had been vomiting for five days. Cheeks sunken. Eyes flat. With hope dwindling, his parents chose to move Colton to Great Plains Regional Medical Center. Once there, Dr. O’Holleran confirmed their worst fears: poison from Colton’s ruptured appendix had been wreaking havoc in his small body. Surgery was the only hope. Colton’s mother, Sonja, paced in the waiting room, talking on her cell phone and praying. His father, Todd, retreated to a small room to pray out his fear, anger, and need to God. A fire fighter, wrestling coach, small business owner, and pastor, Todd had a full plate, and he felt like it was shattering. But there was nothing he could do, so he and Sonja prayed and waited.

And waited -- for days. The surgery helped, but the infection still raged, popping up in unexpected places, resisting treatment, requiring additional surgery. On the 20th day, the Burpos’ church gathered to pray for a turnaround in Colton’s condition. The result left Dr. O’Holleran speechless. Within twelve hours of the church’s special prayer service, Colton was skipping down the hall of the hospital. One nurse said, “Mr. Burpo, they didn’t think Colton was going to make it. But seeing your boy the way he is today, this is a miracle. There has to be a God, because this is a miracle.” She was more correct than she knew. OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES Four months passed before anyone knew. It was the 4th of July, and the Burpo family was driving past the same hospital when Sonja asked, ““Do you remember the hospital, Colton?” “Yes, Mommy, I remember,” he said. “That’s where the angels sang to me.” Angels? They’d never talked of angels, had they? Todd pulled off into an Arby’s parking lot. “What did they sing to you?” “Well, they sang ‘Jesus Loves Me’ and ‘Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho.’ I asked them to sing ‘We Will, We Will Rock You,’ but they wouldn’t sing that,” Colton said. “Jesus had the angels sing to me because I was so scared. They made me feel better.” “You mean Jesus was there? Where was Jesus?” “I was sitting in Jesus’ lap.” Colton’s answers had been quick and matterof-fact, no hesitation. At just four years old, he hadn’t yet learned tact or guile. Still, Todd

and Sonja were stunned. Could he have dreamed this? They didn’t want to push too hard, or ask leading questions, so they got some dinner and then returned to the subject: “Colton, where were you when you saw Jesus?” “At the hospital. You know, when Dr. O’Holleran was working on me. You were in a little room by yourself, praying; and Mommy was in a different room, praying and talking on the phone.” “But you were in the operating room, Colton,” Todd said. “How could you know what we were doing?” “Cause I could see you. I went up out of my body and I was looking down and I could see the doctor working on my body, and I could see you.” GLIMPSES OF HEAVEN Looking back, the Burpos realized there had been moments since the surgery when Colton had spoken very personally about Jesus, but they had just been happily surprised. Now they were fascinated. Over the next few months, they looked for opportunities to casually find out more about just what their son had experienced… On one occasion, Todd asked, “What did Jesus look like?” Abruptly, Colton put down his toys and looked up. “Jesus has markers. And he has brown hair and he has hair on his face. And his eyes -- oh, Dad, his eyes are so pretty! And he has markers, Dad.” “What color are Jesus’ markers?” “Red, Daddy. Jesus has red markers on him.”

Quietly, carefully, Todd said, “Colton, where are Jesus’ markers?” Colton held out his right hand, palm up and pointed to the center. Then he held out his left palm and pointed with his right hand. Finally, Colton pointed to the tops of his feet. One beautiful August afternoon, Todd was driving Colton in their truck, when Colton said, “Dad, you had a grandpa named Pop, didn’t you?” “Yep, sure did.” Colton smiled. “He’s really nice.” “You saw Pop?” “Yeah, I got to stay with him in heaven. You were really close to him, huh, Dad?” “Yes, I was,” was all Todd could manage. Over time, the information that came out— from a four-year-old who should not have known these things—was stunning. The placement of Christ’s throne, the clothing, the crowns, the wings, the rainbow of colors,

Mary, Gabriel, and so much more. More than he could have learned in Sunday school. More than his parents even remembered. Still, none of these revelations had prepared Todd and Sonja for what Colton would tell them one evening in October: “Mommy, I have two sisters.” Sonja shook her head slightly. “No, you have your sister, Cassie, and…” “No, I have two sisters. You had a baby die in your tummy, didn’t you?” Time stopped in the Burpo household. Sonja’s eyes grew wide. “Who told you I had a baby die in my tummy?” “She did, Mommy. She said she died in your tummy. It’s okay, Mommy. She’s okay. God adopted her.” Sonja was trying to stay calm, but she was overwhelmed. Our baby . . . was—is!—a girl, she thought. “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. In heaven, this little girl ran up to me, and she wouldn’t stop hugging me,” he said in a tone that indicated he did not enjoy all this hugging. “Maybe she was just happy that someone from her family was there,” Sonja offered. “What was her name? What was the little girl’s name?” “She doesn’t have a name,” he said. “You guys didn’t name her.” “You’re right, Colton,” Sonja said. “We didn’t even know she was a she.” “Yeah, she said she just can’t wait for you and Daddy to get to heaven.” Sonja gave Colton a kiss and told him he could go play. When he left the room, tears

spilled over her cheeks. “Our baby is okay,” she whispered. “Our baby is okay.” THERE IS HOPE FOR YOU Colton’s story is astounding. But perhaps it is most amazing not for the unknown facts a small boy could reveal about the Burpo family, but for the consistency between his stories and the Bible itself – and the affects that knowledge had on him, his family, and his community. Colton reminds us of the importance, the urgency, and the truth of Jesus Christ’s message to all people: “Jesus said, ‘Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father's house; I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you. After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.’ “Thomas said to Jesus, ‘Lord, we don't know where you are going. So how can we know the way?’ “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.’” – John 14:1-6 Colton was captivated by the love of Jesus Christ and eager to meet Him again in Heaven. You can be too. Contact this church to find out more about knowing Jesus, accepting his love and forgiveness, and being certain that you will join Him in Heaven someday.
Adapted by Carolyn Denny from the book, Heaven is for Real, by Todd Burpo & Lynn Vincent.

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