is God spelling Himself out
in language that man can understand.”
— S.D. Gordon
For some people, believing in heaven is a no-brainer and doesn’t take any conscious effort. For others – especially those deeply ensnared in the material world – it’s just as easy not to believe in life after death, and there is little or no way to convince them otherwise.
When I read about heaven in the book of Revelation, I can envision it as a real place where I will one day reside for eternity. But, I had no convincing proof that what I believe is not just a personal fantasy. That was before I heard about Colton Burpo and Akiane Kramaric – two children whose incredible stories are told by their parents in Akiane by Foreli Kramarik and Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo (with Lynn Vincent). These two kids, who had not met each other at the time of this revelation, have a connection that is … well, heavenly!
I don’t remember when I first became aware of Akiane’s supernatural gift for painting and poetry. But I do recall looking her up on the Internet to view the creations that I’d heard about. I wanted to see them with my own eyes, because the story I’d heard seemed quite hard to fathom.
I discovered that the Lithuanian-American Akiane began sharing visions of heaven with her parents when she was four years old. One morning she whispered to her mother, “Today I met God.” Since her mother and father knew nothing at all about God, Foreli Kramarik wasn’t sure how to respond to her daughter’s pronouncement, so she asked, “What is God?”
Akiane replied, “God is light – warm and good. It knows everything and talks with me. It is my parent.” In complete disbelief, Foreli continued groping for answers.
“Why did you think it was God?”
Akiane confidently answered, “Just like I know you are my mommy, and you know I am Akiane.”
“Who even taught you such a word God?”
Akiane replied, “You won’t understand.”
And she was right. Her mother and father could not understand. But they kept talking with their little girl and trying to remain open to the incomprehensible information that she was willing to share about God and heaven.
The entire story of their journey from spiritual ignorance to acceptance of Christianity is well documented, so I won’t try to retell it here. What I need you to know is that Akiane began drawing portraits when she was four. Her drawings were so professional looking by the time she was five that people refused to believe she had drawn them. When she was eight, she painted a portrait of Jesus as she had seen Him in heaven. And that is where Colton Burpo’s journey intersects with Akiane’s.
Colton was three years and ten months old when he lay on an operating table while surgeons struggled to repair his ruptured appendix and save the little boy’s life. He was officially four and still recovering from the surgery when he began talking about Jesus and the angels that he had seen while he was in heaven. This came as a huge surprise to his father, Pastor Todd, because there was no evidence that Colton had died for even a moment during the operation.
When Colton was seven, his mother, Sonja, saw a CNN report about Akiane that had aired in December 2006 when she was twelve years old. Sonja realized that Akiane’s descriptions of heaven were remarkably similar to Colton’s. Akiane described Jesus as pure and very masculine. “He’s really strong and big. And His eyes are just beautiful.”
At that time, Sonja and Todd had been playing a game with their son for several years. Whenever they came across a portrait of Jesus that an artist had rendered, they would ask, “Does that look like Him?” Colton would study the picture then patiently explain why the likeness was just not right. And he would comment, “His eyes are so pretty!” So when Todd saw the portrait that Akiane had painted, he called Colton to look at it and asked, “What’s wrong with this one?”
After a long, hypnotic moment, Colton studied the picture then said, “Dad, that one’s right.”
When I heard that phenomenal story, it became mine as well. And now that you’re aware of it, it has become ours – Colton’s, Akiane’s, mine, and yours.
I don’t know about you, but these accounts by two very young, innocent children have in many ways confirmed what I believe about heaven. I will read their testimonies again and again when I need comforting and reassurance. And I will study Akiane’s portrait of Jesus when I need to be reminded of what He actually looks like.
“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him,
nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.”
A RUST REMOVER …
Internet search for Colton Burpo and Akiane. Both are older now, so their stories are even more fascinating to learn about. How do you feel about heaven? Are you ready to meet Jesus face-to-face?