I guess houses are being packed out everywhere. Wednesday it was the number one film in America.
Our audience gave it a double applause: when the credits began, and then again after photos caught us up with the real Burpo family, the subjects of the film. Also, those around me were singing along with "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" as the credits rolled. Though there are exponentially more churches than theatres in the US, our society has felt the impact of media more in recent years, so it was refreshing to feel like we were having church in a theatre.
All that being said, Joyce and I didn't walk away uplifted the way we did after Son of God or God's Not Dead (which placed 5, 5, 4, 7 for its first four weeks of the box office). It may have been because we walked in with such high expectations.
My grandfather died when my mom was nine weeks and my aunt was 17 months old. My grandma begged the Lord to bring him back. He did. Grandma told us all every year on the anniversary of his death, so I remember like I was there: "Hilda, I'll miss you and the girls, but it's so wonderful there! I've seen the Lord. It's far better to be with Him. He will give you another husband who will be a father to our daughters. Let me go." He lived another week, but eventually Grandma released him in her heart and he fell into the arms of Jesus, who fulfilled his promise to send her another husband.
Though I haven't read the book Heaven Is for Real, a #1 New York Times best seller, I dipped into it and mentioned the highlights when I preached at my other grandma's funeral last year: "God's Love Is for Real."
So we walked into the theatre expecting a lot. The film delivered in many respects, and I hope theatres around the world pack out the way they did that night. It certainly gets people thinking about the reality of heaven.
There was just one moment that let me down: There's a line that implies God's love is big enough to let everyone into heaven.
I hope you'll bring pre-believing friends and family to see it, and I hope you'll let them know what Jesus said:
“In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”