I wasn’t sure what to expect when we went to hear Todd Burpo speak about the book and movie Heaven is For Real. I had no preconceived ideas one way or another. Mostly, I was just curious and searching.
All my life, God has been the most significant and influential strength of my life. I accepted the convictions of my faith, including an absolute belief in heaven. But now, when it mattered most, doubts troubled me.
I’ve struggled with my thoughts of heaven since Jeanette’s been gone. Let me put it this way. If she had moved to Hawaii, for example, even though it’s a place I’ve never visited personally, I could picture her there and imagine what her life is like. I know other people who have been to Hawaii. I’ve seen pictures of Hawaii. But, heaven? I don’t know anyone who’s been there and returned to tell about it. There are no photographs. I can’t Google it and read about its climate and geography. Of course, I have what the Bible tells us about heaven, and even before my daughter's passing, I'd read books on the subject. But, suddenly, when it’s this personal, when it’s my daughter, none of these things were enough. I needed more. My heart needed reassurance. So, I went to hear Todd Burpo speak hoping for hope.
Is heaven real? Am I going to see her again? Many people report feeling or having a sense of a loved one’s presence with them after they’re gone. I felt nothing like that. Shouldn’t I feel something? The sudden silence and total void, and feeling completely cut off from her felt devastating to me. I began to wonder, maybe…what if… what if there isn’t any afterlife? What if there isn’t any heaven? What if she’s gone, and I’ll never see her again?
As soon as Todd Burpo began to speak, he addressed the things I needed to know most of all. Is heaven real? Will I see Jeanette again? As he spoke, peace and comfort began to fill my aching heart. I just needed to hear someone reassure me, yes, heaven is real.
He proceeded to share about his family’s experience. He shared about his son, now 15 years old, and how we can be confident his story is not made up or fake. He shared a video about his family, and they seemed about as normal and everyday as any family could be—except for this one extraordinary experience.
Several times as he spoke, I reached for Kleenex, not just for me, but for Dennis too. We were sitting very near the front row, and I'm pretty sure he could see us as he spoke, and recognized our grief. In his closing prayer, I know he was praying for our comfort, as well as for others.
I bought a book and stood in line to have it autographed. I was almost at the end of the line, and as I waited, I rehearsed what I wanted to say to him. Then, when I stood beside him, I think I only spoke two sentences. I was not nervous or star-struck. It's just me. and my quiet, unassertive personality! Oh well, the most important questions were settled, my doubts satisfied, and my heart felt at peace.
Sara Faith Nelson
Sharing the journey, because, I find there are so many others making the trek through life without a loved one