Worldview WeekendBy Pastor Larry DeBruyn
The story of Have Heart was born out of immense personal and family tragedy. In August of 2009, weeks before he was to matriculate at the University of Tennessee, Pastor Steve and Sarah Berger's nineteen-year old son Josiah was fatally injured in a one car accident. Have Heart relates how the parents, family and friends are coping with his death, an ongoing story intended to comfort others who have or are facing similar life tragedies. As the book's subtitle indicates, one aspect of "bridging the gulf between heaven and earth" involves reports that after he died, Josiah communicated with family and friends from Heaven.
This book is one of the latest among popular books being published for evangelical audiences on the subject of the afterlife involving visitations to and from Heaven and the connection between the living and the dead. Of this genre, this book is one of the most emotionally charged books, and exemplifies how gut-wrenching stories can shut down rational thinking. As the high-intensity story captivates the reader into a feelings-driven state, the book's contents subtly facilitate a change in worldview as it suggests novel interpretations of Scripture.
Previously, I reviewed a book in this same genre, The Shack by Wm. Paul Young, which evoked similarly strong emotions with its storyline, subtly disarming readers, thereby enabling the author to introduce new concepts about the nature of God, the Trinity, salvation, spirituality and the cosmic reality in which we live, move and have our being.
Do the Dead Visit the Living? Among other experiences which contribute to Have Heart's story line, the book recounts a visitation from the dead. One evening at a service set aside for a prayer and worship at Grace Chapel, a guest worship leader played the song, "It's Gonna Be Worth It." "The song really touched me and took me to a deeper place with the Lord," related Jim Sterling, the Executive Pastor at the church. In his heart and mind, he remembered how in the aftermath of Josiah's accident he, along with many others at the hospital, wrestled with God in prayer. With Josiah's life hanging in the balance, he prayed, "God, this better be worth it." So stimulated by the song he was hearing, Pastor Jim asked God, "Lord, is it worth it?" Then, according to Pastor Jim's account, something amazing happened. "The next thing I knew," relates "Mr. Jim" (as Josiah affectionately called him), "Josiah came into the sanctuary." He continues to describe his coming:
It wasn't like he just appeared there. It was a sense of him coming into the aisle, and he got down on one knee and bent into my ear. He said, "Way worth it, Mr. Jim." Then, as quickly as he came, he left. It wasn't that he disappeared; rather, it was a sense of him leaving the sanctuary.... He had a sense of speed about him, not that he was hurried, but as if life on earth was much slower than in Heaven-it's a different place, a different plane.
I stood up and went over to my wife and told her, "Josiah was just here."
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