Dots and Dashes

The diagnosis,

the “I do” that changes to “I don’t,”

the 3 am phone call,

the job that evaporates,

the no-win choice,

the friend’s betrayal . . .

The deep hurts that

make us ask

   Why is this happening to me?

make us plead

   Take it away. Make it like it used to be.

make us groan

   It makes no sense. I don’t understand.

make us yearn

   I need to hear from you, Lord. I strain to hear your voice.

 Seurat-La_Parade_detail (2)

 What if God is taking the seeming chaos of our lives, the heart-aches, the disasters and making them into something beautiful, but we couldn’t see it from where we are? What if we’re too close to our problems?  What if we lack long-term perspective?

What if the Lord is trying to speak to us through the crackling interference of our stormy lives? What if we need to listen and then listen some more to learn to recognize the Savior’s voice?

 *          *          *          *          *

Sunday afternoon on the Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat (nineteenth century, French, Post-Impressionist)

Georges Seurat’s most famous painting, Sunday Afternoon on the Grande Jatte, is nearly 7 feet tall by 10 feet wide (2 x 3 meters). In order to take in the entire scene from a park in the 1800s, you might need to stand back, across the room.  If you were to walk closer to this famous work of art, you would see that it is painted with tiny dots and dashes of oil paint. From a distance the small spots of color blur together into different tones. Tiny bits of blue next to yellow will be seen as green–your eye does the mixing. Seurat is famous for this technique of painting, called pointillism, from the French word for points.

dots and dashes


Detail from Seurat’s La Parade de Cirque

We can’t stand far enough back to see the whole painting of our lives. All we often see  is a canvas full of splotches of oil paint. We can’t make out the pattern and have to trust that God is making exquisite art of our days, and that someday we will see and understand it all.

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
 I Cor. 13:12   NLT

*          *          *          *          *

dots and dashes

If you’re a ham radio operator or a Boy Scout, you might have learned Morse Code. Some of you might even recognize the SOS distress signal because you have seen it in a movie or read it in a book:   . . .   – – –   . . .

Most of us, however, would have no idea what a series of dots and dashes mean.

– – .   – – –   – . .       . .   . . .       . – . .   – – –   . . . –   .       (God is love)

Morse Code teachers found that students learn better when the code is taught as a language that is heard, instead of read. We  need to listen repeatedly to the dits and dahs of letters and words in Morse Code to begin to make sense of it.

In Morse Code, if “CQ” is broadcast, it means “seek you” (I’d like to converse with anyone who can hear my signal).  God is sending out a “CQ.” He wants to talk with us, to guide us, to be with us during the dark and painful times.

When we listen and listen and listen some more, we begin to hear letters and words take form from the garble of dots and dashes. We begin to recognize Jesus’ voice because we hear it so often.

I learn the pattern of your righteous ways.   Psalm 119:7   MSG

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.   John 10:27   NIV

My prayer for us all:

May God take the dots and dashes–the small, the painful, the messy bits of our lives and make something beautiful. May He change the static and indecipherable patterns into the clear truths spoken by the gentle Shepherd’s voice. May we have eyes to see and ears to hear!

 *          *          *          *          *

shepherd and sheep photo by Barb Briggs,

taken at Foreside Acres farm

Posted on July 25, 2015, in Devotional and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Just beautiful, Connie! I have always loved the Impressionists. Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Grande Jatte is the first painting you see when entering the Impressionist wing of the Chicago Art Institute, only two blocks from where my former private practice on Michigan Avenue. Pointillism is a fascinating technique! What a wonderful metaphor for our lives. It’s all about perspective and trusting God with the “big picture” because we can’t possible see from such a distance. And yet, he is closer to us than our breath! Praise Him! And thank you for sharing the gift he has given you with thought and word.

    • Thanks, Heather. How wonderful to have seen this painting in real life! Visiting the Chicago Art Institute is on my bucket list.
      I love your reminder that “he is closer to us than our breath” even though He is able to see all of history (including ours).

  2. Yes : have trust in God and recognize the Savior’s voice, that’s a good choice

  3. This is a beautiful description of God’s work in our lives–if we are listening. Well said! Have a blessed weekend.

  4. Beautiful words today Constance! I love your prayer for God to take the dots and dashes-the messy, small and painful and make something beautiful. I am praying that with you today. Blessed you shared this at The Weekend Brew.

  5. I love this analogy of life being a painting by God with dots and dashes…colors and artistry! Thanks for sharing these insights and photos. I’m your neighbor at Holley’s link up. Adding mine late. Jenn (graceglimmers)

  6. A beautiful reflection and the pointillism analogy in wonderful. Visiting from a field of wild flowers today 🙂

  7. “We can’t stand far enough back to see our whole lives . . . ” now that’s the truth! And such a good opportunity to grow in trust. Thanks for sharing, Constance.

  8. Great analogy, Constance! I’m going to try and translate my daily ‘crises’ into a dot or a dash! Put them into eternal perspective. Thanks for sharing this. ~Joyce

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