The Path of No Return

Alfred Nobel dropped the newspaper, and put his head in his hands.sniper-at-work-1431849

It was 1888. Nobel was a Swedish chemist who became extremely wealthy inventing and producing dynamite. His brother Ludvig had died in France. But now, Alfred’s grief was increased by dismay.

He’d just read an obituary in a French newspaper – not his brother’s obituary, but his!

An editor had confused the brothers. The headline read, “The Merchant of Death is Dead.”

"I will take the path of no return"Alfred Nobel’s obituary described a man who had gotten rich by helping people kill one another. Shaken by this appraisal of his life, Nobel resolved to use his wealth to change his legacy. When he died eight years later, he left more than $9 million to fund awards for people whose work benefited humanity.

The awards became known as the Nobel Prize.

Alfred Nobel had a rare opportunity – to look at the assessment of his life at its end and still have the chance to change it. Before his life was over, Nobel made sure he had invested his wealth in something of lasting value.1

Job confessed, “In a few short years, I will take the path of no return” (Job 16:22, God’s Word Translation).

Knowing that life is short, he realized that what good he would do, he must do now, because death is that state from which no one returns. Further, Moses spoke of the brevity of life when he wrote, “Our years pass away like those of a spider” (Psalm 90:9, The Vulgate Translation).

It implies that our life is as frail as the thread of a spider’s web.

“Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”2

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  1. Randy Alcorn, The Treasure Principle, Published by Multnomah Books, A division of Random House, Inc., 2001, 2008, pp. 79 – 80.
  2. Mark Twain, Pulpit Helps, The Messenger, July 2006, p. 13.