I have long admired the life and work of the late Dr. Norman Vincent Peale.

You remember Dr. Peale. He became famous for writing a book entitled, “The Power of Positive Thinking.” The book sold millions of copies and was translated into many languages.

What you may not know is this … when the original manuscript of the book was delivered to the publisher, the title was “The Power of Faith.” The editor told Dr. Peale that a book with that title would never sell. So, the title was changed. It was a subtle change, but in the marketing world, it made a world of difference.

Having been on the professional-speaking circuit for many years and having lived a few more years, I can assure you that there is a world of difference between positive thinking and faith. But that is a subject for another day.

Dr. Peale was a marvelous speaker. He also founded the Foundation for Christian Living, which gave birth to a very popular Christian magazine called Guideposts.

Although I never met Dr. Peale, I learned much from him through his sermons and writing. He had a wonderful, sonorous voice, and he was a master of telling a story.

But it was a letter he read in a sermon many years ago that has really stayed with me. It was from a young woman named Susan. Actually, I can’t remember her name, so I will just call her Susan.

I don’t remember her name, but I will never forget her story.

Her letter went something like this:

“Dear Dr. Peale,

I am writing you this letter in the hope it will help someone else like me.

Not too long ago, I was what you might call a member of the ‘party crowd.’ To be perfectly honest, I was a non-stop, party girl. Whenever there was a party, I was there. And wherever I showed up, I brought the party with me. I was really living it up. Or, at least I thought I was. I drank. I smoked. I slept around. None of my girlfriends could keep up with me.

On weekends, I stayed out all night, sometimes coming home just before daylight. My parents tried to talk to me, but I wasn’t listening. I was too busy living the good life — the ‘party life.’

But, Dr. Peale, some of those nights when I can home in the wee hours of the morning, and I was alone, and I was sober enough to think, I would lie awake and think about how miserable I was. I was one miserable human being. And I knew my life was as empty as the Budweiser cans my friends and I had thrown out the car windows on the night just past.

And I knew what was wrong with me. I was in desperate need of a savior. But I kept partying. And the more I partied, the more miserable I became.

Then, early one morning as I lay in my bed in the dark after one of those big nights on the town, I couldn’t take it any longer. I was just too empty.

So, I crawled off my bed and found myself on my knees. And I told Jesus I had made such a mess of my life. And I told him how miserable I was. And I told him I was sorry for all the things I had done. And I promised him, if he would have me, I would live for him for the rest of my life.

And Dr. Peale, you know what? The most wonderful peace came into my heart. And I knew I would never be the same again.

Two years have passed now. And I must tell you, it hasn’t been all that easy. All my friends stopped having anything to do with me. I’ve had to make new friends. But that’s ok.

And a few times I’ve wondered what it would be like to go back to my old ways. But I didn’t think about that very long.

You see, Dr. Peale I have a new life. I’m not the person I use to me. And I want to thank you for your sermons and some of the things you have written. They have really helped me be true to the promise I made to Jesus.

Love, Susan.”

Well, there you have it. That’s Susan’s story. In a way, Susan’s story is the story of every man and woman who has made peace with God.

In its simplest form, it is called repentance and faith.

Hartsville resident Jack McCall is an author and motivational speaker.

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