During my sojourn at Fareham Park Comprehensive School, we would sometimes have a 30 minute period where we spent time with our tutor. Sometimes we would do homework or chat; sometimes our tutor would have something that she would need to share with us. I had a wonderful tutor. Her name was Mrs Smith. She had beautiful auburn hair. She was my tutor for all of my five years at the school.
I recall one particular time where our time with our tutor was the last period before school finished. Mrs. Smith was not there for some reason so one of the other teachers, Mr. Gosden, filled in. He had planned to read us a story for those 30 minutes. He probably didn’t know that the story had a lasting impact on my life.
I remember that the story was about a man who was being ship wrecked in a ferocious storm. The man had been cast into the mountainous waves and each time he went under the waves, he would have flashbacks to moments in his life. He would relive precious moments such as when his daughter was born; the special memories he had of her growing up; of his sweet wife and the times they quarreled and made up; his son who loved football and the times he would watch his matches in the rain. Each time he went under, he recalled a different event in great detail. The final time that he went under, he knew he was close to death. He was called to account for his life – or so we thought.
Then came the amazing twist to this story that stayed with me ever since. As the man was called to account for his life, he was preparing to talk about what he had accomplished and how he had used his time, when his Creator said to him, ‘This is what your life will be like. Do you still want to go?” The man eagerly agreed to come and experience this life even though he knew that it would end up with him drowning at sea.
At that point, either the story ended or the bell rang and we were dismissed from class.
Ever since I have pondered on this story. The twist had taken me quite by surprise. I still remember where I sat – at a different table than where I normally sat facing the windows looking out onto the fields – probably because Mr. Gosden had moved people around to keep order in the class. It was like that moment stood still. Were we shown a preview of our life before we came down to earth? Were we so eager to come and grasp hold of life that we would accept any circumstances to come? Did this man think that he could change some aspects of the life that he had been shown even though he wouldn’t remember it? Did we live before we came to earth?
I don’t know the name of the book that Mr. Gosden read from almost forty three years ago or who wrote the story but it has had a profound impact on how I think about life and its purpose. It prepared me for a life changing event that happened when I was 16 which I will write about at a later time. I’m so grateful to Mr. Gosden for reading that particular story and for covering for my tutor whilst she was out of school on that spring day.