Lord of the Dots
Our son, Zachary Edward, will be four this year. Time has flown. He is an energetic little lad who keeps Susanna and I on our toes when he is awake (and collapsed on the sofa when he is asleep!) It’s fun to experience his rapidly developing personality- sense of humour, likes and dislikes, perception of the world- and to share in the shaping of his life. Currently, one of Zach’s favourite things is doing dot-to-dot puzzles. He’ll spend ages carefully counting the numbers and joining the dots, and then he’ll giggle gleefully when he sees what the final picture is.
I’m writing about my son’s dot-to-dot puzzles because my life feels a bit like that at the moment- a gigantic collection of random dots- and perspective seems hard to come by. I’m studying full-time for a BATM (theology degree) at Cranmer Hall in Durham, while simultaneously fulfilling a role as the senior pastor of a church in York, as well as being a husband to Susanna and daddy to Zachary. Maybe kaleidoscope would have been a better analogy to use for life at present- then again, kaleidoscopes form nice symmetrical patterns! How do the dots of ‘Social Trinitarianism’ and ‘Reflective Practice in Context’ connect with the dots of family life and pastoral responsibility? How do the dots of academic theology and biblical studies contribute to ‘Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…’ (Ephesians 5:25)?
Perhaps the dot-to-dot thing is not so random after all. Somebody prepares those puzzles in such a way that the full picture is only really seen when the dots are all joined together. What seems random at the time makes sense in the light of the whole. I know it’s not a perfect analogy of how our lives in God work (that is the point of analogy, after all) and some readers may even lambast me for being naive or pre-critical, but I’ll settle for the knowledge that each ‘dot’ in my life is part of the bigger picture that God has prepared for me to follow.
I’ll rest in that for now, and in the knowledge that life is unfolding according to the triune God’s economy of salvation (Ephesians 1:10). If Jesus is Lord at all, then he must be Lord of the dots, and if I don’t see the whole, then maybe God works with me on a ‘need to know’ basis.