Heaven is for Real Summary

Todd Burpo

Heaven is for Real

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Heaven is for Real Summary

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Heaven is for Real is the true story of the Burpo family. The family faces a number of trials and tribulations over the span of a difficult year. One of these trials is the sudden illness of their son, Colton. Yet through his illness, the family gets a glimpse of heaven, and now shares the experience to give others hope.

Early on in the narrative, the reader finds that Todd Burpo is a pastor. To supplement his church’s income, he also has a side business of installing garage doors. In addition to providing for his family and the church, Todd is faced with battling cancer and a crippling leg injury. Finally recovering from his accident, Todd and his wife, Sonja, decide the family needs a vacation, and determine to make the next church conference into just that.

Before Sonja is able to meet up with Todd for the family vacation, a three-year-old Colton becomes sick suddenly. Though he eventually gets better, and Sonja feels he is able to now travel, he again becomes ill while on the trip, this time getting worse rather quickly. In a short span of time, actually, Colton is throwing up and even becomes lethargic. The family rushes Colton to a hospital, but his symptoms keep getting worse. It is finally determined that Colton’s appendix has ruptured and that toxins are getting into his system. It is so bad that Colton’s condition seems fatal, and he is taken away for emergency surgery.

Colton eventually recovers, which is considered a miracle to most everyone. His body is still fighting off infection, though, and it is decided that he should be sent to a children’s hospital. While en route, the family is hindered by a storm. When the family then travels to visit relatives, they celebrate the fact that Colton has survived. It is during this trip that Colton begins making what were then thought of by his family as strange statements, puzzling his parents. In time, however, Todd and Sonja realize that Colton must have visited heaven while in surgery.

Colton’s parents are in awe of what he tells them, though they are not certain that he has really been given a glimpse of heaven. After years go by, however, Colton continues to tell his parents about things that he could not have possibly known at his age. He describes details like angels, the heavenly thrones and the triune God. Startlingly, Colton then says he met a sister whom he never knew existed, as well as recounting various details about Pop, Todd’s grandfather. These revelations are so shocking in that Colton could not have known about these events: the sister he mentions meeting was a child that Sonja miscarried and that he never knew about, and Pops had died long before Colton was even born.

Colton’s family realizes that he has been given a unique gift. This is made evident again when he tells them how a painting of Jesus done by a girl who began having vision of heaven when she was four years old is indeed accurate. The family then begins sharing Colton’s story. As they do, they find that it helps encourage people in their lives and struggles. When the narrative ends, Colton is fully recovered and eleven years old now. He still talks about heaven and his time there, but has not been back, he says, since he was three years old.

Heaven is for Real is a powerful story of faith and healing. It is effective in that, despite one’s belief’s, readers can gain a new perspective on life from Colton’s experience. The fact that the Burpo family faced many obstacles before Colton’s sickness, and then also had to face his sickness and near death, highlight the themes of faith and family. The Burpos have a strong family unit, and this unit was brought closer with each trial and tribulation. Colton’s miraculous recovery also brought the family, and extended family, closer as well. Throughout each ordeal, Todd and Sonja kept their faith intact, and Colton’s miraculous recovery ignited this faith so that it is now able to shed light on others.

By viewing the Burpos’ experience with Colton, readers are able to see how the family responded in the face of trials and disaster, and possibly learn from the experience. Likewise, readers can receive faith and encouragement in dealing with their own personal ordeals by hearing Colton’s story. In this sense, faith and healing are vital themes in the narrative that then point to the universal theme of endurance.