When the Dots Don’t Line Up

Sometimes the 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.

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

And 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.

Like a line from dot one to dot number two, Joseph had traveled from a young boy to a man.

His drawing moved from a dark pit to seductive power.

The line squiggled from a place of trust to suspicion.

It took knotted turns from slander to two years in prison.

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

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 their sustenance 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 loved mother.

It was about a Sovereign God. 

Where do we get the idea that the Christian’s 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 a deep pit where we wait, alone and afraid. Other times within the enormous canvas of life, our little square inch looks like a fall from grace, betrayal, and hopeless. The piece we walk in today might look like a gnarled mess of indecipherable dots without any connection, with no future.

God sees all of it. He’s got the whole picture.

We don’t have to.

“Remember me?” Joseph spoke to the terrified men who stood before him, his brothers who had wanted him dead.

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

Joseph’s dots were lining up.


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 isn’t complete.

“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).

Sometimes however, the picture remains incomplete and the answers a mystery.

If faith leans on sight rather than a Sovereign God, we see a confusion of events, and the dots don’t match up. When faith’s eyes raise 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.

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

4 Replies

  1. Rebecca Thesman Reply

    Thank you for the hope underscored in this post. Someday, the questions won’t matter.

  2. Rebecca Thesman Reply

    Thank you for the hope underscored in this post. Someday, the questions won’t matter as our dots will connect to him.

  3. Ajitha Anand Reply

    Thanks !!
    He is the dot – maker !!!

  4. DON L. PAHL Reply

    So very timely, Sylvia. You have no idea how timely. Thank you for writing under the guidance of God’s Spirit.