Todd Burpo's book by this name can be seen featured at almost all stores that sell books. The basic story is that while hospitalized, Colton Burpo — just under 4 years old — says he visited heaven during surgery, lives and over a period of years reveals to his parents specific details about heaven, including some facts that he could not have known.
The basic story captures the challenges of parenthood, including the frustration and anger parents feel when doctors cannot diagnose their children's illness. You feel helpless, and helpless for friends going through that unknown. The writing is light, touching and funny at times, though repetitive in spots. This is not an intellectual book on heaven but is intended to discuss details of our afterlife in an entertaining way.
As one writer has said, if you are learning factual details about heaven via this book, it says more about your lack of reading the Bible than a shortcoming of this book. In other words, it makes heaven seem more real to those who already know and introduces biblical facts to those who don't. But if you want depth, read the Bible or a book like Randy Alcorn's “Heaven.”
Whether Colton was actually in heaven, received his information by revelation or dreamed the basics from which he ad-libbed is not really the point. We can't know. Some of the extra-biblical facts such as there being dogs in heaven and humans having wings sound more like a kid's version but aren't necessarily wrong, either. So it is basically a harmless, touching read trying to make heaven more real to us.
This longing for clarity about our afterlife results in cycles of books with stories of returning from the dead — some Christian, some more like floating in space. Television is jumping with both feet into this yawning gap. Shows have dead people wandering around from spouses and lovers, to evil ones and zombies. One of the ubiquitous medical shows last week misrepresented the Hindu afterlife to be similar to the Christian view with a doctor responding that he believed we just lie in our grave after we die.
Colton's hospital is in North Platte, Neb. Ironically, a few months ago we had stopped to see the great bird migration near there. A few hours later, I was fighting for my life at the Iowa University Hospital. I didn't see heaven. I didn't even see Sand Hill Cranes or the Great Blue Heron or get the future revealed to me. Like most people, I don't remember anything.
You can be driving down I-69 and, wham, some person going the wrong way kills you. Don't wait until you are taking your last breath to repent for your sins and ask for the grace of God to cover them. At the awful Denver tragedy at the Batman movie premiere, those killed and wounded were thinking about how to escape the bullets, not repentance. Be ready now, because heaven is for real. And so is the alternative.