The Dot-to-Dot Seasons

This is one of my tougher seasons of life. Unable to pinpoint its beginning, I am more interested in its end.

dot to dot blankIn my not-so-patient endurance, I thought of the dot-to-dot activity pages I enjoyed as a child. These pictures are without definition, other than scattered dots and corresponding numbers. The goal is to connect the dots with color or pencil in sequential numerical order. The originating artist has created a completed picture from which the unconnected dotted sheet is made. The one with the blank page must fill in those spaces one link at a time to see what has been hidden from view.

Maybe this season of my life is one of those dot-to-dots. The Artist of my life sees the completed picture, while I see only a series of line segments taking me up and down, back and forth, with no discernable pattern. In fact, I feel I’m covering the same territory repeatedly, with different names and faces involved. So I question the path God has me on, not a problem in itself. When I stubbornly plant my feet with hands on my hips to demand an explanation before going on, I’ve moved into problem territory.

dot to dot gone astrayTo stay with this dot-to-dot illustration, I’ll say I arrived at #17, quite near my starting point. With no idea how much longer this journey will be, but feeling hopeless, I decide I have had enough. When I arrive at #18, rather than looking for the next marker, I just keep going on no path at all. Ah, the freedom of independence! Really? Look at the second picture.

I’d rather go independently into the senseless unknown than follow Daddy’s path – unknown to me, but known fully to Him? That’s independence?! Once I’ve taken those steps, I know I will never make it back on my own. Prone to wander, Lord, I fear it 1 rings so true.

Without the Lord’s patient and continual outpouring of mercy and grace, I will not see the intricate beauty of Christ to be revealed in this season’s picture. But, if I trust Him completely, not only will He restore me to the path, but will bring me to the finish. Each season’s picture will be as beautiful as He already sees it – when complete.

dot to dot completedI want to trust Him. Really. And I want the pain involved in the making of this picture to end now. It can’t be both. Either I focus on the pain of each step or I trust Christ completely. Thank God for His grace in Christ Jesus!

My heart’s true desire is not to lean on my own understanding. Rather, it is to trust the trustworthy One, regardless of pain or discomfort in the process. Only in this do I find true rest as I am reminded:

You know exactly where I am and what I am going through. 2

You will never leave me or forsake me. 3

Your love for me will never fail. 4

You are working all things together for my good. 5

You know my every thought and still love me. 6

You are leading and guiding me in the way everlasting. 7

Jesus Christ – the One You gave for me 8 – is more than enough for me 9, my refuge and fortress 10, my shield and defender 11, my Life and my light, my salvation 12. You, Jesus Christ, are ever-victorious 13! And You live in me and I live in You – forever 14!

With that, I find myself again on the path, unsure of what I face, but completely certain of Christ Jesus.

1 from hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

2 Psalm 139:1-18

3 Hebrews 13:5

4 1 Corinthians 13:8

5 Romans 8:28

6 Psalm 139:1-18

7 Psalm 139:24

8 John 3:16

9 Ephesians 3:20

10 Psalm 91:2

11 Psalm 18:2, Isaiah 51:22

12 Psalm 27:1

13 1 Corinthians 15:54-57

14 Colossians 1:27

Because It’s Right

If you read the December 20 post, you know that my husband and I paid off our home mortgage early.  Never having done this before, other than when we were selling a house to buy another one, we really didn’t know what to expect.  We assumed it would be like when you pay off an auto loan.  First, you receive something from the finance company indicating that you no longer owe them money.  A few weeks later, you receive the title to your car.  I don’t know about you, but I get a sense of satisfaction in having that piece of paper proving ownership.

Being new to the home pay-off experience, we anticipated receiving something from the mortgage company as proof of our completed obligation, even if nothing else.  After a few weeks passed, I was told by the company that it had been sent to the Register of Deeds, who would be sending us something.  Upon calling a few weeks later, I found that it was on record as having been paid.  The woman was very nice and helpful, telling me we had been given the deed when we first bought the house years ago.  What I was looking for, she told me, was the deed of trust, which proves our full ownership.  If I really wanted a paper copy, I could drive downtown and get it there, or I could go online to a title site, sign up for a free 7-day trial, and get a copy right on my printer at home, which I did.

Talk about anti-climactic!  At least a car company sends you a letter recognizing you have completed your obligation to them!  Here we have a mortgage paid off ahead of time, a much bigger a deal in our minds, and I had to print the paperwork off the internet – with no one around to congratulate us.  At a time when the whole industry is struggling, you’d think they’d have been especially glad to have all our money early!

Okay, so sarcasm and self-pity aren’t pretty at all – ever.  After all, why did we pay off the mortgage in the first place, when we could have continued making our monthly payments for years down the road?  I’ll refer to the December 20 post Scripture reference:  Romans 13:8 NIV  “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.”  That is the verse the Lord used many years ago to give us the desire to be debt-free in the first place.  At the right time, He made it clear that it was time to complete the process, and we willingly obeyed, all glory to God.  We didn’t do it for man’s accolades, though once it was done, we came to expect them.  Did we fail to pay attention to the great cheers coming from heaven when we paid off our debts simply because He told us to?  If we had done this for the applause of man, we would have lost our true reward, which is so much greater than anything human could possibly be!  Glory be to God!  Truly, we did what we did because it was the right thing to do for us and what the Holy Spirit had made clear we were to do right now.

The hidden motives of our hearts ensnare us so easily, even in the midst of doing the right things.  It’s the subtlety of pride – “look at what I’ve done,” rather than “look at what the Lord has enabled me to do!”  Thank God for His mercy and His Holy Spirit, Who helps us see things His way.  It’s time for us simply to return to being thankful the Lord has made the way for us to pay off our financial debts so we can focus on repaying the debt to love – because it is right.  Kind of like Jesus, Who went about doing good . . . because it was right.