At Eternity’s Gate

Challenge Central: a CBC devotional

By: Roger Wood

Last week I watched a film on the life of the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh entitled At Eternity’s Gate. Van Gogh was one of the most influential figures in Western art history. His father was a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church, and Vincent once desired to attend seminary and become a missionary. He was not commercially successful during his lifetime, but today his paintings are among the most expensive. He painted many
landscapes, and as he gazed at the vast horizons before him, he referred to those views as eternity’s gate. He suffered from severe depression and sadly ended his life at age 37 in July 1890.

A portion of the film was about his rocky friendship with the famous French painter Paul Gauguin. Much of Gauguin’s schooling centred upon Roman Catholic traditions and teachings. His largest and most famous painting hangs in the Museum of Fine Art in Boston. Gauguin never wrote on his paintings, but on this one, he did. In the top left-hand corner of the painting, he wrote three questions:

D’ou venons-nous? (Where do we come from?)
Que sommes-nous? (What are we?)
Ou allons-nous? (Where are we going?)

Gauguin did not have an answer to those vital questions. Most people contemplate
similar thoughts at some point in their lives, but, like Gauguin, they do not have answers. Pastor Alastair Begg has said, “Millennials have been raised believing they exist as a result of time plus matter plus chance and that they are a collection of molecules held in suspension. There is no ultimate destiny towards which they are moving, therefore, there is no arc that they are able to navigate through their lives. They are at sea like a ship without a rudder.”

We have the most important message in our world. Why? Because, as believers, we are possessors of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. We have knowledge of the Gospel message. We are living through a world, moving through a world in which we alone have the truth that will save dying people from an eternity in Hell.

The challenge for each of us is found in another three questions:

“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?
And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard?
And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”
Romans 10:14

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