“Heaven is for Real” is the true story of a rural church pastor, Todd Burpo, who also has a garage door business and serves on the local volunteer fire department. When his three year old son Colton undergoes surgery for a ruptured appendix, he has an out of body experience which he interprets in later months as a trip to heaven. Todd finds the boy’s story hard to ignore because of the difficult-to-explain details Colton describes. Others, including Todd’s wife and members of his church congregation, are clearly skeptical and are more inclined to believe Colton’s experience was merely a dream. Todd’s support of Colton’s visit to heaven experience becomes a distraction and threatens to end Todd’s leadership as the local pastor; however, a radio interview brings in a large crowd to hear the details of Colton’s trip to heaven, and Todd’s explanation that we all experience heaven through acts of love brings a renewal of faith in his community.
I have to admit I’m one of the skeptics that are more inclined to believe Colton’s experience was in fact a dream based on images and events from his own life manipulated by the drugs he was on and his own imagination. I have not read the book so I can’t comment on how well this material was adapted for the screen. In spite of my skepticism, the story of these events and how this family dealt with the situation was an interesting one. I found Todd’s sermon at the end of the film to be a satisfying conclusion – essentially setting Colton’s experience aside and confirming heaven is for real based of the love we experience on a daily basis.
Unexplained events like this happen all the time and I don’t think we should ignore them. This is a well told story of one such seemingly miraculous experience and I’m glad I spent the time learning how this family dealt with the circumstance.