Saturday, February 11, 2012

Letters to Heaven by Calvin Miller

Miller's book is “about seeing heaven as a place for wrapping up the unfinished business of earth.” (xiv) There, all the loose threads are tied up.
This is not a book about pearly gates. It is a book about people, starting with Jesus. This is a book about mentors, loved ones, friends.
Some of his letters are full of thanks. With beautifully crafted words, Miller sends a letter to his mother, telling her how much her support meant to him.
Some of his letters are rather blunt. He writes to a fellow he is not so sure is in heaven, telling of the last time he stopped by, giving one more opportunity to accept Christ. But his friend had been defiant to the end.
He writes to heroes, the individuals to whom so many of us are indebted. He writes to individuals who impacted him greatly, such as the woman professor teaching Bible at college.
Not all of his letters are to people he knows are in heaven. Some of his letters are just loose ends that need to be tied up, such as his letter to the famous movie star, Farrah Fawcett, with whom he shared Thanksgiving dinner in 1969.
Some of his letters bare his heart. He writes to a child, gone from this earth too soon, for those left behind. Miller officiated the funeral. “The service was over. We gathered at your tiny grave, that obscene hole in the earth that seemed too small to suck in all the question marks.” (54)
He writes to his older brother who drowned when Miller was three. His brother was ten. “If only you hadn't gone swimming.” (131)
Sometimes Miller is sentimental, not wanting the classmate who died in a fire to be in hell. He is sure God could not do that to such a sweet girl because Miller could not have done it himself.
He writes to a winsome man whose wife was a sourpuss (sure they are reunited in heaven). He writes to Jim Elliott, a martyr whom he had never met. He writes to Paul Little, whose books helped him so much.
Sometimes the recipient is really a surprise, such as Oscar Wilde (third in line of earthly influence on Miller).
Miller has such a way with words, when he writes of the recipient's experiences, I almost feel like I'm watching a life, seeing the person, getting to know him.

Miller recently suffered a heart attack and he knows he will be heading to heaven one of these days. (62) He asks a biographer of C. S. Lewis , Did heaven surprise you? Is it like Narnia? Miller, within the letters, lets us know a little more each time what heaven is like. We get a sense of what a comfort it will be to those who have had a hard life on earth. We can feel his ache to be there, to be with Jesus.
Not only is Miller expressing his thoughts to the letter's recipient, he's teaching us too. He's teaching us that death can come in a moment, as it did for the fellow next to him in that small airplane. He's teaching us to express our love and gratitude now. As he wrote to Harold Shaw, “...I wish I had told you this back then. But since I didn't, I am counting on this letter to heaven to get it through to you now.” (181)

Miller's book is an encouragement to those who long for heaven. It is also an encouragement for those of us still here on earth to tie up our loose ends now. Express your gratitude and your love now.

Worthy Publishing, 210 pages.  
Go to Worthy Publishing to read the first chapter.

I received an egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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