God Sees The Whole Picture

As a child I loved working with dot to dot pictures. I pondered them before I put pencil to paper, trying to form in my mind the whole picture, wanting to unravel the yet unknown. With a crayon tight in his fist, my grandson looked at me satisfied and proud. The dot to dot on the page was a jumbled scribble. Frenetic streaks crossed and wobbled across it.  

Sometimes our dots line up, and we connect one to the other and the picture is clear. We see what God was trying to do and we say, “Oh, I get it. That’s why that had to happen that way.” That’s why the tire was flat. That’s why I got sick. That’s why I lost my job. “Now I understand.”

But other times none of it makes sense. We wait for God to tie up the ends and put a bow on it so we can look at a completed package with spiritual satisfaction, admire the intricate workings of God and justify His actions. But He doesn’t and it doesn’t. 

Joseph, of the coat of many colors fame, lived much of his life in an unfinished dot to dot picture. Like a line from dot number one to dot number two, Joseph had traveled from a young boy to a man.

His line moved from a dark pit to seductive temptation.

It squiggled from a place of trust to suspicion.

The dark line took knotted turns from unjustified slander to an unmerited two years in prison.

And then it seemed to go haywire up and down across the page from captivity to second highest in the land.

The dreams of an adolescent, favorite of his father, despised by his brothers became reality. He became an Egyptian ruler, respected and feared; obeyed and powerful.

“I am your brother,” Joseph, dressed in Egyptian finery, said to the bewildered men in front of him. (Gen. 45:4; NKJV). 

While his brothers prostrated before him like the drama of a play, those youthful dreams came to life. It all made sense. He could make out what the picture looked like. While they pleaded for food and life, Joseph knew. He had been placed there for a purpose. It had little to do with him, with favoritism, with coats of many colors or a mother who was loved deeply. 

It was about a Sovereign God. 

Where do we get the idea that the Christian life must look like a beautiful painting on display for our viewing pleasure? Why do we stoop to think it is about me, and it will all turn out lovely and unmarred because somehow I deserve it? 

I forget I am not the dot-maker. 

Sometimes God’s painting resembles the black backdrop of Joseph’s deep pit. We wait in the dark, alone and afraid. Other times within the enormous canvas of life, our little square inch looks like a fall from grace, dripping with betrayal, and hopeless. The piece we walk in today might look like a gnarled mess of random dots without any connection, with no future.

God sees all of it. He has the whole picture.

Like the red colored picture of my grandson, life at times feels scribbled, without form or definition. “I’m a mess, and life makes no sense,” we conclude.

“Remember me?” Joseph spoke to the terrified brothers who stood before him. While at one time they held his life in their hands, the tide now turned. Joseph had the power to do to them whatever he wanted.  

Joseph’s dots were lining up. 

Like a heavy iron chain the truth dumped at his brother’s feet, all of its guilt, shame and hatred. Its weight must have resounded into stillness. 

In the spaces in-between our dots, God uses even the sinful choices of others. He uses what hurts, destroys, robs and makes us miserable. He uses stuff that detours our plans and changes our lives. Joseph’s story reminds us there is purpose, direction, and a perfect brushstroke of the Master, even when the picture doesn’t make sense.  

“For God,” Joseph said to the shocked brothers. “sent me before you to preserve a remnant for you… to save your lives by a great deliverance.” (Gen. 45:5-8; NKJV).

When our picture remains incomplete and answers are a mystery, when faith leans on sight rather than a Sovereign God, we see a confusion of events, and the dots don’t match up. But if our eyes rise to a Person, perfect in all His ways, our dots connect to Him like strong ropes of safety.  

Joseph’s picture unfolded before him like a scroll, and it was beautiful. Yet, even he saw only a few small squares in a kingdom drawing. He didn’t see the vast hand of God throughout future-history. He never knew how his life still touches millions of lives. 

We love neatly tied up bundles. We love when it all makes sense. But sometimes it doesn’t. Somethings never will until we see Christ, when He makes all things new. When He raises the dead to life, and the lame to walk. When the blind will see, and the speechless will talk. 

And you know what? When that day comes, our eyes will be on Christ alone. 

And nothing else will matter.

27 Replies

  1. Don Pahl Reply

    Thank you, Sylvia.

    Your comments remind me of the poem, The Weaver.

    “Not til the loom is silent
    And the shuttles cease to fly,
    Shall God unroll the canvas
    And explain the reason why.”

    Your conclusion was right on. We have hope that we’ll have all the dots connected by the end of life. Perhaps. Perhaps not. There’s still eternity for God to color the picture we call dots!

    Such a fitting portrait of Joseph’s life!!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Don. I love the Weaver’s loom analogy. I had to go look up the poem because I’m not familiar with it. It’s just wonderful! I’m so glad you brought it to my attention. Thanks for reading and I am always encouraged by your comments!

  2. Sharon Reply

    Thank you Sylvia, I loved the imagery, story, and reminder and challenge that God is sovereign and I don’t have to understand why.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      God’s Sovereignty is something I can’t quite understand, but as my vision broadens, I appreciate the vastness of His Sovereignty more and more. Thanks Sharon. I am always so glad to hear from you.

  3. Jan Puffenberger Reply

    This analogy is so right on. And it is by His connecting these dots that it sometimes brings us to a full surrender to His Will. Thank you. I so enjoy reading your weekly blog!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks so much Jan. Full surrender to His will is definitely aided by a bigger understanding of His Sovereignty! Thanks for your comment and for reading the blog. Your responses are always an encouragement.

  4. Mary Neir Reply

    Love this story! We have a Joseph story in our family and we find this so encouraging as we do with our son. Thanks for all you write to challenge us. I always need improvement. God bless you !

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Mary! Thanks for following my own challenges!! It is a journey!

  5. Cleo Waters Reply

    Great analogy! Loved reading this blog. Thank you.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Cleo, thank you so much for your encouragement. I’m honored you enjoyed it!

  6. Katherine Pasour Reply

    Our interactions with our grandchildren provide us with many lessons. Your analogy is a good one, Sylvia. I think God is still working on my dots and I’m so thankful He loves me enough to keep working on me. Thank you for this inspiring message.

  7. Eloise (Harder) Jordan Reply

    I love to cross-stitch and couldn’t help but relate that to your dot-to-dot pictures. When I look on the underside of what I’m doing it isn’t really too pretty, most of the time, but when I look down from on top, there is a beautiful picture. I may not understand now, but when I get to be with Him and look down from on high, it will be beautiful.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Yes! Cross-stitch is a great analogy. Thanks so much for reading and commenting! There is a beautiful picture waiting.

  8. Phyllis Hood Buckman Reply

    Oh my! How clearly your words paint the picture of God’s hand in this masterpiece of life,, even if still we see only the confusion of dots! Thank you!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Phyllis for reading and commenting! God is so very gracious and patient, isn’t He!

  9. Ann Newcomer Reply

    Beautiful, Sylvia! Thanks for your connection of God’s Ways with the often harsh reality. We are at a transition point of life but continue to marvel at His tender grace & wisdom.
    Thank you for sharing your gift with us.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Ann. Transitions are not easy. I am so grateful His tender grace and wisdom continues to amaze. I appreciate you taking the time to read and respond. I kinda makes my day!!

  10. Sarah Schwerin Reply

    Thanks for the encouragement! I love to have everything fit neatly together, but I must put my trust in God first before I try to make sense of my messy life. Thanks for the reminder!

    • sylvia schroeder Reply

      Thank you Sarah! I too love to have dots line up. I’m grateful for when they seem to, but still learning I can’t see it all. God is limitless. Thank you so much for reading and responding!

  11. Annie Yorty Reply

    “In the spaces in-between our dots, God uses even the sinful choices of others.” Yes, Sylvia, God uses it all. Thank you for this reminder to be patient as He completes His masterpiece.

    • sylvia schroeder Reply

      Thanks Annie. Perhaps part of our faith relates to how firm is our confidence that He will indeed complete His masterpiece. I forget sometimes there is a whole lot more than what I can see. Thanks so much!

  12. LM Reply

    Thank you for heeding His call for you to write. Blessed by it!

  13. Marilyn Nutter Reply

    Sylvia, I love the visual analogy you used. I pictured myself, as you connecting dot to dot pictures as a little girl and watching my grands do the same to get the hidden picture. My biggest take-away from reading is: God has hidden pictures for me– just follow HIS dots – I am not the dot maker. Thanks for giving a deep lesson in an elementary illustration. Maybe that’s why we’re supposed to come as a little child.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Marilyn. I like that summary “God has hidden pictures for me…” I appreciate you reading and commenting!