Days of Summer

About this time or year, I start to long for summer. Even though this winter has not been too bad weather-wise, January tends to be a gray month. To give us all a little taste of warmer weather, I am sharing this painting titled, Summer Day at Skagen South Beach.

From the late 1870s until the turn of the century, a group of Scandinavian artists came to the village of Skagen every summer to paint. Skagen is in the northernmost part of Denmark and its long beaches stretch for miles. The Skagen artists painted “plein air,” which means they set up their easels and paints outdoors, putting onto the canvas what they saw in front of them instead of being inside a studio and painting from a photo. This technique, attributed to French Impressionists such as Monet and Renoir, emboldened the Skagen artists to develop their own unique style, breaking away from what was traditionally taught in art academies.

This painting makes me long to dig my toes into warm sand and feel the sun on my face. I wonder what the little girl standing alone on the beach is thinking. Perhaps she is too shy to trade her modesty for a dip in the ocean. Maybe too scared? Maybe waiting for an invitation? Is she worried the water too cold?

Sometimes faith can elicit similar questions. Am I all in or do I need a little more time to think things through? Am I waiting for an invitation? Perhaps caution keeps me from giving God too much control or credit. One of the verses in the Bible that always gives me pause is Revelation 3:16: “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.” Who wants to be spewed!?

This raises some more questions: Am I lukewarm? Am I afraid of getting scalded or frozen if I am not careful? Could this little girl be a metaphor for those waiting for just the right “temperature” before jumping in?

I am inclined to think that God’s grace shows up no matter where we find ourselves—tentatively peering from the shore or deep in the water. On any given day, I can be both. Of course God would like us to be all in—to jump with joyful abandon into the sea of his love. But he also understands and sympathizes when we’re stuck on the shore, not sure we can take the next step.

Being Human connection: May you clearly hear and heed God’s invitation to come on in. The water is not only fine but it is lifesaving. The water of your baptism is calling you to let his love wash over your brow, let go of your fears, and be “all in.”

Featured art: Peder Severin Krøyer, Summer Day at Skagen South Beach, 1884

“And that water is like baptism, which now saves you. Baptism is not the washing of dirt from the body. It is asking God for a clean conscience. It saves you because Jesus Christ was raised from death.” -2 Peter 3:21