Did you ever have a book of ‘Connect the Dots’ when you were little? It was a book of puzzles where there were numbered dots all over the page, and you had to draw a line from dot ‘1’ to dot ‘2’ to dot ‘3’ and so on, whereupon a picture you had ‘drawn’ would appear (those were some of my very best works of art!). Today, we sometimes make reference to those puzzles when a sudden realization blossoms, shocking us that we hadn’t previously ‘connected the dots’ which now were so obvious. Or, somewhat sarcastically, we might hear it said that someone is ‘no longer connecting the dots’ (it is a rather unkind sentiment. I cite it for illustration purposes only). I sometimes refer to a book by Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo, entitled, Adventures in Missing the Point, in which they describe how the Church, in the hustle and bustle of ‘ministry’ has forgotten the main point of her existence. Or, to continue our theme, she has failed to continue connecting the dots.
I am amazed at how often that is true of me when trying to unravel a spiritual snag or better navigate some spiritual confusion. And yet, I have multiple copies of the Scriptures at my disposal, each explaining life with great clarity. For example, God says, in Isaiah, chapter 46: “I am God, and there is no other. I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” NIV. Again, in chapter 55: “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work. For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think.” MSG. From these verses, I should no longer be caught off guard when a set of circumstances gets resolved other than how I would have done it – or when I would have done it – or through whom I would have thought it should have been done. But I am disgruntled, dismayed, even disapproving, more often than I’m comfortable admitting! I think of Job’s stunning losses and reversals despite his renowned piety; of Jonah’s hissy fit over the salvation of the deserving-of-hell Ninevites; David’s 17-year torturous journey from anointing to the throne; of Elijah’s pity party, forgetting God’s astonishing, miraculous intervention and focusing solely on Jezebel’s measly, hate-filled threat. While I know I’m not the only one who’s been detoured from dot connecting, it is urgent that I/we invite the Bible’s truth to be the sole guide through the turbulent waters of our day. Let’s keep doing this together, pressing in, linking arms, building our holy faith, tomorrow at 10 AM. PD