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“The Five People You Meet in Heaven”—Book review

Can you name the top five influential people in your life?
I would choose my mom. My dad. Jeff. Morgan, Jenna. And Kali. (Okay, six.)

But those we would pick, may or may not be who God would pick. The most influential ones may include some we never even met...

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom I started and finished this book in less than 24 hours. The story gripped me. It flitted back and forth through time, through people. Through me.

No story sits by itself. Sometimes stories meet at corners and sometimes they cover one another completely, like stones beneath a river.

Eddie, an old amusement park maintenance worker, dies. He subsequently meets five people in heaven, one at a time, each carrying a piece of his story.

The premise is intriguing. But the theology is excrutiating.

“There are five people you meet in heaven,” the Blue Man suddenly said. “Each of us was in your life for a reason. You may not have known the reason at the time, and that is what heaven is for. For understanding your life on earth.”

Um, I don’t think so. Heaven’s purpose is not so you can make sense of your past. It’s about Him, and you getting to live fully at last in the complete presence of the One you adore for all eternity.

But, if you can lay aside the fictional theology, read this book anyway.

And in that line was a whiskered old man…who waited…to share his part of the secret of heaven: that each affects the other and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.

Mitch Albom writes with insight. Sometimes pleasurably, sometimes painfully. We need both.

* The manager called me the ‘best freak’ in his stable, and, sad as it sounds, I took pride in that. When you are an outcast, even a tossed stone can be cherished.

* “Sacrifice,” the Captain said. “You made one. I made one. We all make them. But you were angry over yours. You kept thinking about what you lost. You didn’t get it. Sacrifice is a part of life. It’s supposed to be. It’s not something to regret. It’s something to aspire to.” 

* All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.

In the end, this book is just a story. But because it’s a story with enough truth in it to hit home, I cried near the end. When I think of how my baby Kali influenced my life, a child who only breathed air for an hour, I understand:

* “And I lost everything. I lost the only woman I ever loved.”

She took his hands. “No, you didn’t. I was right here. And you loved me anyway. Lost love is still love, Eddie. It takes a different form, that’s all. You can’t see their smile or bring them food or tousle their hair or move them around a dance floor. But when those senses weaken, another heightens. Memory. Memory becomes your partner. You nurture it. You hold it. You dance with it.

“Life has to end,” she said. “Love doesn’t.” 

Love doesn’t end. Real life doesn’t either. That is heaven. I long to live with Love there. And share it with far more than five other people.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
1 John 4:16


Lynn Severance said...

Lisa, I would expand the “Blue Man’s” comment because I do believe that when were are with God in heaven and fully known that all that has gone on during our earthly life is part of being fully known - as in we will then fully know ourselves in Him.

I’d even go so far to say that all we are walking out now will be used for what it to come in heaven. Eternity is beyond our grasp of understanding. Yet if we were wholly in God before we were born and have this time on earth now, it has to be working together for good and that fully realized good will become known in heaven. At least that is my humble opinion!

I’d love to think of your Kali giving you a tour and showing you her favorite parts in heaven or finding out if God gave my Mom a new assignment in overseeing the “painting of the sunsets”.

It may not be that the “Blue Man” meant that was all heaven is for. I’ve not read the book so I do not know if he went beyond that sentence. But it evoked these thoughts in me.

Thought provoking book and good thoughts from you in regard to it.

You might like C.S. Lewis' "The Great Divorce" - one of my favorites.

Lynn :)

Lisa notes... said...

Nice commentary, Lynn, and I do agree with you that we probably will "fully know" ourselves and Him once we're there. Won't it be grand???

This book was made into a movie, which I haven't seen yet. Maybe somebody who has seen it will weigh in on that.

I have read "The Great Divorce" and it has haunted me ever since...I need a re-read soon...

Lynn Severance said...

Lisa - my first reading of, "The Great Divorce" had me confused. Then I read it again and a lot became clearer. I am not saying that your haunting was the same as my confusion - just that for me it became a true favorite going through it again.

it is not a theological piece - but an imaginative piece that gave me pause to think of the decisions I make now and how I view people in my life now. In this last regard it sounds like it flows in a bit with Albom's piece - as Lewis introduced characters folks were surprised to see in heaven.

Nice to check in with you!

Lisa notes... said...

You pegged me, Lynn. Confusion is a big part of my haunting with The Great Divorce. That's one reason I want to re-read it, to see how I understand it the second time around. I'm glad you made the connection between these 2 books.

Praying that all is going well with your packing and move this month...

Lynn Severance said...

Okay - perhaps it might become a book on your nightstand at some time in the future!

I just checked out Wikipedia to see if it had a summation and it does - in no way spoiling the book. My initial confusion was in not understanding the setting/s. Once that got established it all fell into place.

I am making progress with my packing. Though slow, I will meet my deadline for the end of August date. I'll try and send you a note as amidst my being so overwhelmed right now, there are some joys to share.

Thanks for your prayers!

Melissa said...

I was just browsing to see what other people had written about Mitch Albom's books. I just read "Tuesdays with Morrie" but now I think I'll pick up this one. Sounds like a very thoughtful read. Thanks!


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