A story full of pain. A story full of hope. A story full of anger. A story full of forgiveness. Does this sound like your life? It certainly sounds like mine! It also sounds (in the extreme!) like the story of Kim Phuc Phan Thi. You may have seen her picture. She’s the famous “napalm girl” whose picture was snapped by a young photographer as she ran naked, screaming, and severely burned down a Dang Trang Vietnam road. The photographer who took the iconic photograph scooped Kim up and rushed her to a nearby hospital where, initially, they refused to treat the girl. After some arm-twisting and showing of credentials, he convinced the hospital to take her in and they arranged her transfer to Saigon. When she arrived, unconscious, at First Children’s Hospital she was deemed hopeless and taken to languish in the morgue.
It is from these horrors that a story of survival, hope, and peace rose like a Phoenix. Her survival from burns was only the beginning of Kim’s remarkable story. Living under the oppressive system of Communism, Kim continued to suffer loss after loss. She had been introduced to the Christian religion but had stopped attending services regularly. She was so despondent that she planned her own death, but somehow she found the will to cry out to God…a simple prayer. With that prayer, and action she took in faith that God had heard her petition, things began to turn around for Kim Phuc.
Her book, Fire Road, tells the remarkable and inspiring story of redemption and grace in Kim’s life. I found myself writing down quotes and thinking of applications to my own life as I read her words. Kim is an inspiring role model. Her story teaches lessons that are hard to forget because they were lived, not just preached. I can’t recommend this book enough!
*I was provided with a complementary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
If you’ve read and enjoyed Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo, you’re going to love Heaven Changes Everything. Todd and his wife, Sonja, team up on this devotional book based on Heaven is For Real. If you didn’t read the first book, it is the account of a young boy who became gravely ill and visited heaven. The devotional is able to be read as a stand-alone volume, although the examples mentioned are richer if you’ve read the companion book.
It is important for Christians to live their lives with a view of heaven in mind. So many things are easier in this life when seen in light of eternity. Todd and Sonja both contribute short chapters dedicated to different topics related to life beyond the veil. Taking a heavenly perspective gives us the ability to endure and to encourage in ways that nothing else can. It is easy to fall into discouragement when we find ourselves failing at something again and again (or to be judgmental when we watch as someone else tries and fails repeatedly). God doesn’t look at it that way. He doesn’t grow impatient. Instead, He watches us and encourages us like a parent of a child who is learning to walk. As parents, we know our child will fall but we feel nothing but elation when they try. When they fall we don’t scold them. Instead we pick them up and set them up to try again. Some children are slower to walk than others. As their parent we don’t love them any less. They are living up to their potential and we are pleased with that. God only asks that we do our very best, not that we always succeed.
Heaven Changes Everything takes subjects like family, death, forgiveness and grace and illustrates them in light of our eternal destination. The short chapters are easy to read and are perfect for a daily devotional to reorient ourselves away from the temporal concerns of this world and towards a heavenly perspective.
***BookSneeze® provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.***