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

Questioning God, Questioning Leaders

SONY DSCAre you hungry today?  The following words, from Hyper-Grace: The Dangerous Doctrine of a Happy God by D. R. Silva, are some tantalizing morsels to help satiate your longing.  I offer only a sample, but encourage you to read the whole book if your spirit bears witness with what is contained here.

Never let anyone convince you that God considers it “doubt,” “disloyalty” or “dishonor” if you question Him, or the leaders He has put into leadership positions.  Jesus welcomed and encouraged questions of all kinds (that’s how people learn!).

Never let anyone convince you that faith means to quit asking questions in favor of silent obedience to your leaders.  Not only is that a lie, but it’s blatant manipulation and behavior control.  The only ones who have done that kind of thing throughout history are cult leaders and tyrants who were afraid their followers would learn to think for themselves, because a single question can be the most powerful weapon against fear and tyranny, and one question has the power to topple an entire empire.

Don’t ever underestimate the power of a question.

question markYour questions are the greatest weapon you have against deception, manipulation and tyranny; never let anyone disarm you.

If your leaders are trying to teach you to fear them, it’s time to find new leaders.  The only reason they would want you to fear them is so you will do whatever they say without asking questions.  That’s not the church or Christianity that Jesus founded; that’s something else entirely.

Don’t let your leaders disguise fear as “respect” or “honor.”  There is a huge difference.  Respect and honor is something you give naturally, not something you have to be coerced and guilt-tripped into giving reluctantly.

Always line everything up with the person of Jesus.  You didn’t become a Christian to follow me or any other church leader; you became a Christian to follow Christ.  If something doesn’t line up with Him and what His life demonstrated for us (that is, those in the new covenant), you can safely conclude that it’s no good.  And if it’s tested and found no good, you will know not to hold on to it.  (I’ve written an entire book about this subject called It’s All About Jesus.)

. . . Being loyal to me as a person doesn’t mean you have to be loyal to all of my ideas; that goes for every other church leader as well.  If they mistake disagreement with disloyalty, then they have an ego problem.  Don’t let them try to bully you into thinking you’re the problem for not agreeing with them.