A Life Without Joy
Children on a Sled by Nikolai Bogdanov-Belski
It is a crisp winter day and ten children have snuggled together on a sled pulled by a horse. It brought back memories of my first sleigh ride. The kids were laughing and having a gay old time as we trotted along.
What strikes me as odd about this painting is the lack of animation. Only the horse has movement. The driver seems oblivious to the children and just keeps his focus ahead. The children are the most surprising. While a few are smiling they sit perfectly still and are not relating to each other.
While they look like perfect little angels they do not look like children having fun on a sleigh ride. It appears like a forced ride and perhaps that is what it is. Maybe it's dad taking his kids to church or school or back home.
As I studied this picture for a clue to what I might learn from it I saw that this picture portraits life without joy. Christians especially are people meant to experience and live in great joy. They pride themselves in being a redeemed and forgiven people -- ones reconciled to God through the death of Jesus Christ.
It's the joy of Jesus Christ within us that makes the world want who we have. If we stoically live life without joy -- mechanically going through our daily lives, then how are we any different from those who don't know Jesus?
As we look at this picture we'd have a completely different feeling if the kids were having fun with each other and the driver was cocking his head with a smile. We'd actually want to join them!
If we are part of Christ's church and live in the doom and gloom of the world around us, then it's time to re-access. Jesus has come so that we can live life to its full potential and that includes knowing joy and peace that the world will marvel at and want for themselves.