The Serenade View
About a month ago I was wandering through the Seattle Art Museum, and I happened upon this piece about which I was terribly confused. Mind you, I’m rather terrible at museums because I find everything more funny when people are quiet and serious.
This piece struck me immediately, mostly because I had no idea whatsoever what it was. I stood there staring at the brush strokes which seemed uneven and chaotic, the colors which seemed lumped in haphazard patterns, the texture that seems accidental. I glanced at the title, hoping for some clarification and found the plaque that read, “The Serenade, Venice.” Behind me, my mom was standing toward the middle of the large room when she saw the look of confusion on my face. She motioned me to pull toward her saying, “It’s hard to see the beauty up close; you need the distance to truly understand the picture.”
As I stood there staring at this picture painted by French artist Henri Le Sidaner, I couldn’t help feel like I completely understood his point or was totally making things up. Standing in the middle of the room, surrounded by whispering people, I felt the beauty of that night in Venice. The colors that swirled and the chaos of the little boats, the lights reflecting in the water and the distant buildings.
We live life very much like my initial encounter with the painting, up close and full of scrutiny. We struggle to see and understand the reasoning behind why we encounter the things we do. We wrestle with the seeming chaos of it all, the painful brushstrokes that seem to ruin the potential for understanding.
There is almost certainly a point in each of our lives where we find ourselves questioning the painter and the painter’s sanity or intentions.
II Timothy 2:13 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. It reads, “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (II Timothy 2:13, NIV).
I read this verse not long after my trip to the museum, and it sent my mind back to that moment where I stood there feeling like I couldn’t understand anything I was looking at.
It sent my mind back to those moments where I sat in my car feeling completely out of the loop of my own life, feeling like nothing was making sense, feeling that lack of faith.
The beauty of our God is that He is who He is, despite us. No matter what we do, what we choose to believe, how we live our lives or view our circumstances, none of this changes who He is and what He will be for forever.
Up close, life can seem completely impossible to understand because the chaos can blind you and cause you to lose your direction. But when you allow yourself to trust the God whose existence and identity is based on no one, you are setting yourself up for that middle of the room experience where God can show you the beauty and the detail, the forethought, and the love that went into your life.
“IF we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”
Olivia Dummer is a student in Blue Springs, Missouri where Jason Huckaby is her pastor. She writes and keeps an inspirational blog hoping to encourage others and share what she’s learned about God.