How many of us wish that we could stay the same age forever? But we are all embedded in space and time. Every one of us experiences birth, growth, decay, and death. Thomas Cole’s four Voyage of Life paintings follow this pattern, but the pattern happens so slowly that we might think our lives are permanent. Yet Psalm 90:12 says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to you a heart of wisdom” (NASB). We cannot stop the clock. If we could, we would never gain an eternal perspective on life. Age conspires with God to take away our temporal hope. After all, the course of our life prepares us in this present darkness for eternal light in our Father’s house.
Watch part 1 of a teaching series based on Thomas Cole’s Voyage of Life. These four paintings depict the cyclical dynamics of human life, as signified by the artwork’s titles: Childhood, Youth, Manhood, and Old Age. You can view these paintings in person at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.