When I was a child, I had a plethora of toys to choose in order to occupy my time. My parents owned their own business which kept them occupied almost constantly. If they weren’t AT the business they were doing something FOR the business or talking ABOUT the business. My mom used to joke and say that when she buried my father in the future, she would for sure bury his calculator with him. 🙂 I don’t think she did that, but I could be wrong. Anyway, I had older siblings but two were much older and married before I was even out of elementary school and the sibling just above me, well, we didn’t get along very well. This meant the majority of the time, especially in the winter, I played by myself. Being very much an introvert even back then, I was fine with that. One of my favorite things to do was dot-to-dot pictures. I assume you know what those are…there is a page of black dots, each labeled with a letter or a number. The object was to connect the dots in alphabetical/numerical order in order to see what the finished picture would be. Then, if I so desired, I could color the picture. As I got older, the difficulty level of these pages increased. Interestingly, I recently saw a dot-to-dot book for adults in a local bookstore. Some things are never outgrown.
The concept sounds pretty simple. Find A or 1 and start drawing lines: A to B to C to D or 1 to 2 to 3 to 4…Sometimes, though, my hand would work faster than my mind (some things don’t change in that regard either) and I would mess up. Maybe I would lose count and skip a number or I would think I already touched the #17 dot when in reality I missed it because it was tucked behind another dot or it was clear across the page from where my pencil was. That would always frustrate me. Being the perfectionist that I
was am, the lines needed to be in perfect order and the page needed to be free of erasure marks or cross outs. Besides, if the dots weren’t connected in order, the picture at the end wouldn’t make sense.
What does a book of dot-to-dot pages have to do with my life as an adult?
Well, yesterday I spent the day with my daughter. It is a 40 minute drive to get to her apartment. As is always the case, I had a Christian radio station playing as I drove. A song came on that I had heard hundreds of times over the last several years. In other words, this is not a new song nor is it sung by a new artist. The singer was Steven Curtis Chapman and the song was God is God. I was singing along with it (I have to sing with radio. It’s just a necessary thing for me to do) half paying attention to the words. Until the chorus played.
“God is God and I am not,
I can only see a part of the picture He’s painting.
God is God and I am man, so I’ll never understand it all,
For only God is God.”
A picture of a dot-to-dot page immediately formed in my head. I imagined God connecting the dots of my life. He began at #1 a little over four decades ago. Each moment is a new dot, each day another line, each year a little more of the picture shows. An unfinished dot-to-dot page resembles nothing–it is just black dots, numbers and a few lines. In an easy version, say one that a seven year old child might do, it’s often easy for an adult to look at the page and know what the finished picture will be. A flower or a puppy is evident to the eye of an adult simply by the placement of the dots. But in a book of these pages designed for adults, all that is seen are hundreds of tiny black dots and very small numbers to designate a connecting order. The human mind can’t always form a picture of the finished product if there is not enough clues given to match our preconceived and pre-learned images.
But God…God’s mind is not like the human mind. The Bible says that God’s ways are not my ways nor God’s thought my thoughts. God looked at my life before I was even born.
He knew when the first dot would begin.
He knows how many dots it will take to complete the picture.
He knows exactly how the finished picture will look.
Me? I only see a part of the picture. It’s no wonder I often look at my life and see the “mess” it is and think to myself, “What in the world is this supposed to be?” To me, it often looks like a mistake was made, had to be scribbled out because it was done in pen instead of pencil, and while the line was corrected, it left an ugly blemish that ruined the picture. At the end, though, once the dots are all connected and the picture colored completely, the mistakes aren’t evident. What’s left is a beautiful picture.
God is connecting the dots of my life–and yours–and my kids’. He is the artist who doesn’t make mistakes although in the process it may seem like He messed up. I struggle so much with this concept. How can abuse fit into a beautiful life picture? How can depression add beauty to a life? How can a chronic and debilitating illness make a life beautiful?
I don’t know. I only see a part of the picture. I’ll never understand it on this earth, for God’s ways are not my ways. He doesn’t require that I understand it. He only requires that I trust Him to finish the picture and find, in the end, the beauty that He knew was there all along.