Providence Family Ministries
The Art Collector
Years ago there was a wealthy man and his devoted young son who shared a passion for art collecting. Together they traveled around the world adding only the finest art treasures to their collection. Priceless works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, and many others adorned the walls of the family estate. The widowed elder man always looked on with satisfaction and pride as his only child dealt with experienced art collectors around the world.
As winter approached, war engulfed the nation, and the young son left to serve his country. But only after a few short weeks, the father received news that his son had died while rushing a fellow soldier to a medic. Distraught and lonely, the old man faced the upcoming Christmas holidays with anguish and sadness. The joy of the season would visit his house no more.
On Christmas morning, a knock on the door awakened the depressed old man. As he walked to the door, the masterpieces on the walls only reminded him that his son was not coming home. As he opened the door, he was greeted by a soldier with a large package in his hands. The soldier introduced himself by saying, "I was a friend of your son. I was the one he was rescuing when he died. May I come in for a few moments? I have something to show you." Your son told everyone about the passion you both shared for fine art. "I am an artist," said the soldier, "and I want to give you this." The old man unwrapped the package to reveal a portrait of his son. Though the world would never consider it the work of a genius, the painting featured the young man's face in striking detail. Overcome with emotion, the old man thanked the soldier, promising to hang the picture above the fireplace.
After the soldier departed, the man pushed aside thousands of dollars worth of art to hang the painting, and he spent Christmas gazing at the gift he had been given. During the weeks that followed, the old man learned many stories of his son's gallantry. His son had rescued dozens of wounded soldiers before a bullet stilled his caring heart. Soon, fatherly pride began to ease the old man's grief. The painting of his son became his most prized possession. He told neighbors it was the greatest gift he had ever received.
The following spring, the old man became ill and passed away. Sad, but true, the art world was in anticipation. All those paintings would be sold at auction. According to the will of the old man, all of the art works would be auctioned on Christmas Day, the day he had received the greatest gift.
The day arrived and art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the world's most spectacular paintings. Many hoped to claim, "I now have the greatest collection." The auction began with a painting that was not on any museum's list. It was the painting of the old man's son. The auctioneer asked for an opening bid, but the room was silent. "Who will open the bidding with $100?," he asked. Minutes passed, and no one spoke. From the back of the room came a voice, "Who cares about that painting? It's just a picture of his son." Let's forget about it and move on to the good stuff." More voices echoed in agreement. "No, we have to sell this one first," replied the auctioneer. "Now, who will take the son?" Finally, a neighbor of the old man spoke. "Will you take ten dollars for the painting? That's all I have. I knew the boy, so I'd like to have it."
"I have ten dollars. Will anyone go higher?" called the auctioneer. After more silence, the auctioneer said, "Going once, going twice, gone." The gavel fell. Cheers filled the room and someone exclaimed, "Now we can get on with it and bid on the real treasures!"
The auctioneer looked at the audience and announced that the auction was over. Stunned disbelief filled the room. Someone asked, "What do you mean, it's over? We didn't come here for a picture of some old guy's son! What about all the other paintings? There are millions of dollars worth of art here! I demand that you explain what's going on!"
The auctioneer replied, "It's very simple. According to the will of the father, whoever takes the son..........gets it all."