As I think about the future my thoughts take me to the distinguished members of the Class of 2019 and to a famous painting created by Titian, a 16th-century Venetian artist. Titian created a work known as “An Allegory of Prudence.” The artist desired to communicate what it means to be prudent. Titian portrayed prudence as a man with three heads. One head was of a youth, confidently facing the future. Another head was that of a mature man eyeing the present, with all its responsibilities. The third head was that of a wise, elderly man gazing at the past with a great expression of nostalgia on his face. He was fondly reminiscing his glory days of youthful energy. Over their heads, Titian wrote a Latin phrase that when translated read: “From the example of the past, the man of the present acts prudently so as not to imperil the future.” I am happy to report that I rarely perceive myself as a man with three heads, but the object lesson of the painting is very clear.
The essence of the painting’s meaning addresses gaining a balanced focus on life. We need that kind of wisdom today as we face the future together. That kind of wisdom must prevail if we are to rise above anxieties produced by past failures and the fear of repeating those mistakes in the future. This type of anxiety will keep us from enjoying life in the present and properly planning for the future.
Let’s face it. The future can be scary to think about. The great unknown can leave too many questions unanswered. We may plan “theoretically” knowing that those plans can be changed through a simple twist of fate. Still, we must face the future and deal with the important questions: What is my focus on the future? How far ahead can I see? Do I have a vision for life?
Indeed, the strength of my life is dependent on gaining and maintaining that proper focus. It is found that those who have a clear concentration on the future are most fruitful, most flexible and most likely to achieve their goals. How then can we effectively gain that proper focus? I submit to you three easily identifiable pointers that begin with two simple words, “Let us.”
- Let us draw near to God: To do so is to gain confidence in our lives. To do so is to gain a focus on the future. Not to do so is to miss out on a great life adventure. As we intentionally decide to seek God’s Grace, great things begin to happen. We will become immersed in a vision for good, sound and balanced living. It is living in a type of victory that is perennial and life-giving. We will become less focused on the demands of “religion” and more focused on a living relationship with the Almighty.
- Let us hold on to our hope: Hope is not wishful thinking. It is a full assurance in the sovereignty and goodness of God. Hope is not compromising. Rather, hope is persevering. My hope needs to be foundational to my faith. It doesn’t bend or yield to the blowing winds of temptation, convenience or circumstances. Hope holds firm to what is essential to my integrity. Hope is the stuff of which martyrs have given their lives for. Chances are that you and I will never have to be martyred for the hope that we have. However, we can live for our families, our faith and our commitments with a sense of hope.
- Let us consider and encourage one another: This is otherwise known as “building community.” This means that we build understanding in a relationship of mutual responsibility. Mutual consideration and encouragement are fostered as people go beyond just being courteous and actually commit to each other. The ancient Greeks had a word for this, “koinonia” which meant “community,” “fellowship.” This requires that people risk for each other and assume responsibility for each other.
The Class of 2019 stands on the threshold of a future filled with unknown possibilities and great potential for good. Let us live prudently and learn from the mistakes of the past so as to make wise decisions in the present and not endanger the future.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
-Chaplain Joe Molina CDR, UMSC / Chaplain to the Corps of Cadets (© all rights reserved)
See Chaplain Molina’s latest published work: MUSINGS FROM THE HEIGHTS on