Perhaps they were not the most encouraging words to hear as a young child.
I remember my mom's comments on the brevity of life. “Time goes so fast!” she would sometimes exclaim. I cannot remember her exact words following that statement, but they always seemed to contain the discouraging implication that old age would come quickly for me.
My mom's words came back to me during a recent visit to Savannah, Georgia when I came across the above painting, La Parabola, at the Telfair Academy for art. Life in its entirety, from childhood to old age, pictured in just two scenes. As I first stared at the painting I felt a sense of sadness. What a depressing picture of life!
Cesare Laurenti (1854-1936) painted La Parabola in about 1895. He intended the picture to depict the progression of “human life . . . The race toward pleasure, until clouds of weighty thoughts and sorrow come to disturb the serenity of the young soul.”[i] On the left panel, we see a young girl racing toward adulthood and the joys of romance. On the right, we see images of the same woman ever advancing in age toward death.
As I further contemplated the two scenes of this painting a few weeks back, the words of 1 Corinthians 15:19 echoed loudly in my ears, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” To be sure! If this painting represents the totality of our existence, we have no hope whatsoever. But such is not the case.
As believers in Christ, we look forward to a new beginning when Jesus comes for His church. 1 Corinthians 15:52-53 says this about our hope, “For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” What an amazing hope we possess in Christ Jesus!!
In eternity, the scenes of our lives appear radically different.
We may someday enter the scenes of eternity as an elderly man or woman (as depicted in the painting) only to be changed, at Jesus’ appearing, back to a time before the process of aging took away our youthful appearance. Then in countless never-ending scenes of eternity after that, we will appear exactly the same as we forever celebrate the joys of eternity in the presence of our wonderful Savior.
In Jesus, we find sweet relief from the sad progression of life portrayed in this old painting. In eternity, the glorious scenes keep coming; they will never end. What will they picture for you?
If you have never called upon the name of the Lord for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life, please do so today before it is too late. 1 John 5:12 says, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” If you are in the latter category, please call upon Jesus today. Jesus alone is “the way, the truth, and the life.”[ii] He waits in love to forgive all your sins and give you eternal life. Only in Christ will our eternity be one of joy and not judgment.
If you already know Jesus as your Savior, praise him for the glorious eternal hope you have in Him. The scenes of this old painting are but a minuscule part of your life compared with eternity.
Thank Him for a hope that will someday take us far beyond the scenes of La Parabola to the never ending joyous scenes of eternity.
[i] From a letter of Cesare Laurenti to Carl Brandt
[ii] John 14:6