Childhood - How Life is Meant to Be
Voyage of Life - Childhood by Thomas Cole
This is the first of four famous paintings that Thomas Cole painted about life. In this first picture, we see coming out of a cave a small vessel with an angel carved in the bow leading the way and a "live angel" guiding the boat from the stern. The live angel is glowing, dressed in white, and has both arms outstretched to keep everything steady. The waters are smooth and they glide from the cave into a beautiful land filled with color and sunshine.
In the middle of the boat is a young child with arms stretched up to take in the day and all the surroundings. With the angel's eye upon him, there is no worry for the child. All he has to do is enjoy the wonderful scenery and feel the sunshine on his body. It is a life of no cares, no worries, and no anxiety. Someone else is looking out for the boat, and the right direction.
This painting reminds us of how life is meant to be. We are to live knowing that we have a Father in Heaven who cares for us. He is taking care of our boat and the direction we are supposed to be sailing. It brings God great delight when we live like children. In fact, Jesus said to his grown-up disciples that unless they would change and become like a little child they would never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 18:3)
A child is humble, dependant, and trusting. If we are to be part of God's kingdom that is exactly how we must live. We must take our place as God's children who are dependant upon our Father for everything and live trusting Him for all that we need. Just as the child in this boat is positioned between two angels so we will be positioned as God himself goes ahead of us AND behind us. It is a life of security and happiness that we could never provide for ourselves.