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(A famous clergyman’s comforting parable)
by Norman Vincent Peale

LORD THOMSON OF FLEET built one of the great newspaper empires of our era. At one time he owned some 286 publications in England, Scotland, Canada and the United States.

One day he invited me to a luncheon in the sumptuous dining room of The Times of London. The table was made up of distinguished editors and writers as well as prominent businessmen.

The conversation ranged over many themes: the prospects for peace, world affairs, politics. Suddenly, in the midst of much good natured banter, Thomson said: “Dr. Peale, I am an old man, and one of these days I’m going to die.” The room became silent. “I want to know: Is there an afterlife?”

I wasn’t sure that he wasn’t pulling my leg, but then I sensed that the question was indeed serious. “Lord Thomson,” I said, “I believe in the promises in the Bible. But beyond the biblical is the evidence of intelligence and common sense.

Then I told him and the others a parable about a prenatal baby tucked beneath his mother’s loving heart.

“Suppose,” I said, “that someone came to this unborn baby and said, ‘You cannot stay here very long. In a few months you will be born or, as you may think of it, dies out of your present state.’”

“The baby might say, ‘I don’t want to leave here. I’m conformable, well cared for; I’m warm, loved and happy.’”

“But he is born. He dies out of his present life. And what does he find? He feels beneath him strong, loving arms. He looks up into a beautiful face tender with love, the face of his mother. He is welcomed, cuddled, cared for, and he says, ’How foolish I was. This is a wonderful place to which I have come.’”

“Then he goes on to enjoy the delights of childhood. He grows into youth with its excitement and romance. He marries, and holds his children’s hands and knows their love. The years pass; the joy and wonderment of life are his.”

“Then he becomes an old man. His step slows, his energy abates. Someone says, ‘You are going to die or, as we might call it, be born out of this place into another.’”

“And he remonstrates, ‘But I don’t want to die. I have my loved ones. I love the dawn and sunset, and the moon at night, and the starlight. I like to feel the warmth of the fire on my face when cold weather comes, and to hear the crunch of snow beneath my feet on a winter’s night. I love this world. I don’t want to leave it, I don’t want to die.’”

“But then he does. What happens then? Is God, the Creator, suddenly going to change His nature? Can we not assume that he will feel once again loving arms beneath him, and once again look up into a strong, beautiful face, more lovely even than that first face he saw so long ago?”

“Won’t he soon be exclaiming, ‘Why, this is wonderful! I love this beautiful place. I want to remain here forever.’”

“Does this not make sense?” I concluded. Silence hung over the table.

Thomson sighed, “It does indeed make sense,” he said. “That parable has helped me by answering questions that have haunted me for years. Do you think I will like it over there?”

“Of course, for it will be exciting.”

“What will I do there?” he asked with a grin.

“Perhaps buy and sell newspapers?” I said. A laugh went around the table.

Since then Lord Thomson has gone to the life beyond. And, judging by the affirmative way this lovable man responded to the power of faith, I think God must be taking care of him.

"The Teachings of Zareth"