In 2005 Marv Besteman, a veteran of the U.S. Army and a retired bank president, encountered an experience that all of his rational life experience could have never prepared him for—a short, 20 minute glimpse of heaven.
In his book “My Journey to Heaven” (co-authored with Lorilee Craker), Besteman recounts his memories from a hospital night in 2005 in which he recalls being transported from his hospital room straight to heaven by two angels. The entire visit happened in less than 30 minutes, but it made a profound impact on Besteman and altered the course of his remaining years here on earth (which he felt led to spend sharing what he saw).
This was certainly a thought-provoking book. Initially I began reading with some skepticism, as I’m sure many readers do when encountering a story like this. Did he really go to heaven or was it some type of dream or vision enhanced by his situation in the hospital?
None of us will ever know the answer to that question on this side of heaven, that’s for sure! That said, whether Besteman’s encounter was as actual and physical as he recalls it being or whether it was a very vivid dream I will say that by the end of the book you are convinced that he certainly had a one of a kind spiritual encounter and that his insights into heaven are somehow ordained.
One of Besteman's highlights is meeting Peter at heavens gate (Peter was actually the one who told him that this was not his day to enter heaven...that he had more work to do on earth). He says, "Peter was as humble and down to earth as the guy you mows your lawn...He really did seem just like a fisherman, with a scrubby beard, shaggy hair, and clothes that looked like he had been wearing them for 1,000 years of hauling nets and gutting fish."
One of my favorite moments in the book is when Besteman describes seeing people dancing and signing around the throne of God. Coming from a conservative Dutch reform background Besteman jokes about how surprised some of his church friends will be to see all of the dancing!
"Yes, I did say the men were dancing, and their arms were raised, too, in worship! Some of my Dutch, Christian Reformed friends are going to have a hard time imagining themselves dancing in worship, or even raising their hands...Nobody is going to be able to help themselves at the foot of God's throne, exalting the Holy Ones with a purity and joy we have never known."
I love that! How many times have we all been in church and felt the urge to worship God more fully than we actually do?
Perhaps one of the most touching parts of the book was the postscript, written by his wife after Besteman passed away and returned to heaven in January of this year...right after finishing his manuscript for this book. These short few pages offer an intimate look at the energy and time Besteman devoted to this book, and a very touching description of his co-author's last few moments with her friend and writing colleague.
My Journey to Heaven is a sweet book and a relatively easy read (there are several sad and touching moments incorporated). Marv Besteman's voice is so evident in the telling of this story that at times it felt like having one of my grandfather's friends sit beside me to share a tale of some amazing trip they had bed on.
At the end of the day Besteman felt as if his job was to come back and tell people about his experiences in hopes of helping to alleviate an fears, concerns or doubts they may have about heaven-- his book certainly helps to share that story.
I also have one copy of the book to give away...if you're interested in reading it simply live a comment below and I will randomly choose one winner on Sunday evening!
(Revell sent a copy of this book for review-- I was given no other compensation to write this review)