Lord Thomson of Fleet was one of the great newspapermen of our era. At one time he owned some 285 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: world affairs, politics ... British and American, the prospects for greater prosperity. 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 couldn't be sure he wasn't pulling my leg, but then I sensed that the question was indeed serious and weighed on his mind. "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, "someone came to this unborn baby and said, "You cannot stay here long. In a few months you will be born, or, as you may think of it, die out of your present state.'
‘The baby might stubbornly say, ‘I don't want to leave here. I'm warm, loved and happy. I don't want to be what you call born, or what I call die, out of this place.'
"But he is born. He does die 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, cared for, and 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 knows the love of his children.
"The years pass, with the strength of manhood, the achievement of middle age; the joy and wonderment of life are his. Then he becomes an old man. His step slows. Someone says, ‘You are going to die, or, as we call it, be born out of this place into another.'
"And he might remonstrate: ‘But I don't want to die. I have my loved ones. I love this world ... the dawn and sunset, the moon, 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 evening. I don't want to leave this world. I don't want to die.'
"But in natural course he does die. What happens then? Is God, the Creator, suddenly going to change His nature? Can we not assume that he will once again feel 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! Here I want to remain forever'?
"Does this not make sense?" I concluded. A deep silence hung over the table; several of the company appeared to be moved.
Thomson sighed. "It does indeed make sense," he said. "I will never forget that parable. It has helped me answer a question that has haunted me for years." Suddenly his mood changed. "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!" A laugh went around the luncheon table.
Since then, Lord Thomson has gone on into the life beyond. Judging by the affirmative way this lovable man responded to the power of faith, I think God must be taking good care of him.