Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross
Ann Turner Cook passed away at her St. Petersburg, Florida, home on Friday, June 3, 2022. She was 95 years old, was an educator, a novelist, a wife, and a mother. Her father was a well-known cartoonist. But you almost certainly know her for a charcoal drawing that was made of her by an artist neighbor, Dorothy Hope Smith. It was submitted for the label of a baby food company and chosen in 1928, then trademarked in 1931. Ann was the original Gerber baby (news report here)! You’ve seen that iconic picture. If you realized she was a real person, you never thought about the fact that this baby grew up and eventually grew old. Or that she would now be dead.
I know nothing about Mrs. Cook’s religious life or spiritual preparation. But I do know that she is part of a universal truth concerning life, and that is that death comes relatively soon for us all. How soon?
- Like water spilled on the ground (2 Sam. 14:14).
- Like a weaver’s shuttle (Job 7:6; Isa. 38:12).
- Like a breath (Job 7:7).
- Like a shadow (Job 8:9; 1 Chr. 29:15; Ec. 6:12).
- Like a flower (Job 14:2).
- Swift as a runner (Job 9:25).
- Like a handbreadths (Ps. 39:5).
- Like a wind that passes (Ps. 78:39).
- Like a sigh (Ps. 90:9).
- Like smoke (Ps. 102:3).
- Like a lengthened shadow and grass (Ps. 102:11; 109:23).
- Like a passing shadow (Ps. 144:4).
- Like a fading flower or withering grass (Isa. 40:7-8; Js. 1:10; 1 Pet. 1:23-25).
- Like a vapor (Js. 4:14).
With that in mind, shouldn’t we pray with David, “LORD, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am” (Ps. 39:4).
Yes, we can look at the Gerber Baby and see that. Or we can look through our own family albums. The baby, childhood, and young adult photos of our grandparents, parents, or ourselves. The weathering winds of time do sure and quick work, reminding us of the many ways the Bible depicts it for us. Time is short and it passes quickly.
Rather than a depressing inevitability, this should be a respected teacher. We should pray with Moses, “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:9). We should take Paul’s inspired advice and “be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16). Don’t leave undone what needs to be done. Don’t put off what must be done before this life is over. It will be over before you know it. As the writer of Hebrews tells us, “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (9:27).