Wednesday, May 28, 2014

For Real?

    I think it was at least a year ago that I read the book Heaven is for Real, and it was not really something
This is what the sky looked like when I left the movie theater.
I don't think that's just a coincidence
that impacted me right away. I thought it was a very nice story, but my mind kept trying to find loopholes and prove it false. It seemed like something that could have been made up as a publicity stunt or a way for the author to earn money (and the author does talk about the family's financial struggles), so I just decided it was a nice story that may or may not be fully true and stopped thinking about it. If you haven't read the book or seen the movie, here's a brief summary."
     Heaven Is for Real is the true story of a four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who experienced heaven during emergency surgery. He talks about looking down to see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear."
     Today I had the opportunity to see the movie, and I was pretty much transfixed throughout the entire thing, This story could have so easily been adapted into an overly dramatic fanfare or even a mockery of the story, but it wasn't. It portrayed in a very honest way the little boy's simple trusting explanations of what he had seen, and also his parents' hesitancy to fully believe it and the way their community reacted when the situation became public. The way the movie showed how even the boy's father, who is a preacher, struggled to believe his son, made it so honest and real. I don't think it could have been made any better. It was actually hard for me to focus and take it all in because it was just so emotional for me.
     So do I believe the story now? I think so, but that's not really the point. I think there are two reasons I felt so impacted by this movie. The first one is that Heaven is where my friend Scott is now, and also two of the children I met in Honduras, and that causes me to think about Heaven more than I ever had before. When your friend moves away to somewhere that you've never been, you probably want to learn as much as you can about that place. I like to learn about Heaven because it makes me feel closer to Scott and those children and reminds me that I will see them again one day.
     The second reason I felt so strongly about this movie is that it reminded me of that childlike faith that is harder to keep the older I get. I remember in my first semester of college I was in history class and we were learning about Jesus as a historical figure and the boy sitting next to me said. "You have to be really unintelligent to believe in that." I remember that was pretty shocked by his comment and it made me question my own beliefs. It made me wonder if believing in something I've never seen is faith like I've always been taught, or just ignorance and stupidity. I eventually got over that worry through a lot of thinking about what my beliefs mean to me, and if I remember correctly a conversation with Chandler (my go-to friend for all of my pressing questions about faith and silly complaints about the drama of being 18 :) ) . Anyways. now that I've let myself go on that tangent we can move on.
     The Bible says that to enter Heaven, we must have the faith of a child. As I grow older, I struggle with retaining that faith and balancing it with "intelligence". I think the simple faith of children is one of the reasons I enjoy being around them so much. It is nice to be around people that haven't been influenced by the realities of life so much that they have to think of everything in a logical way. This movie shows how much a child's willingness to accept what he believes can impact other people. What if I was that confident about what I believed, and not so worried about what other people think?
     So what if in the future it it is revealed that this story was a scam all along? What if that little boy was just reacting to anesthesia and dreamed the whole thing? That would be a sad thing to accept, but regardless I know that I was impacted by this story today. I was reminded that it is important to live everyday with the knowledge that Heaven is a real place that I will be in one day. I also need to be more concerned about sharing my faith so that Heaven can be a reality for many more people. So I will hold on to that childlike faith for as long as I can, and this summer as I am around children at VBS and in Honduras I will try to remember to listen closely to them, because sometimes God's voice is heard most clearly through the mouths of children.

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