Connect The Dots
Ever played "connect the dots"? Probably not recently seeing that you are likely an adult reading this article! Many of us though, have played connect the dots in our past. As kids we connected the dots in the right sequence and spelled words or drew pictures. There was an element of surprise as the word or picture became clear. For the overly ambitious once the dots were connected, the coloured crayons would come out and add artistic flare.
I think life is like connect the dots. Like dots on a page we can feel disconnected and alone. However, as we converse with each other we sense a greater connection with the other “dots”. Conversation connects you with me as we realize just how much we have in common. And while there are many issues that connect us, one issue that connects us all like a line between two dots is our brokenness. Some of us carry heavy loads - we wish we could somehow off-load burdensome luggage. Worse yet, some of us walk all alone, “dots” weighed down, feeling like we are the only one on the page. Let me share with you what for many that brokenness looks like.
Divorce - I would imagine that if we were to take a survey on a Sunday morning with a show of hands, that the majority of people would raise their hand acknowledging that their lives had been touched by divorce. Most of us, if not having walked through divorce ourselves, have a close family member whose life has been scarred by such a break up. For example, this Christmas, how many of us will be juggling kids between our home and the spouse we have divorced? How many of us will not see a particular family member because divorce has removed that person from the family circle. How many grandparents will attempt to offer up a little more TLC because their grandkids have been exposed to the harsh winds of divorce? Unfortunately many of our lives are connected by the trauma of divorce.
Alcoholism - Since returning to Canada I have been amazed with how many people have alcoholism in their family background. I have learned much about what it means to be "a child of an alcoholic" just by listening to peoples' stories of growing up with an alcoholic parent. Some kids become perfectionists, trying to please the parent who binges and never nurtures a child who so desperately needs love. Others attempt to become "the strong one". Never acknowledging their own need but instead being "the fixer"! What alcoholism has left in its wake is not pretty, but I have seen many stories of God's deliverance and healing. Unfortunately many of our lives are connected by the trauma of alcoholism.
Physical Sickness – This can come in a number of packages. One such way is sickness that accompanies an aging body. As someone said to me “I think at times the golden years have lost their shine.” There are many seniors who are wearing a path down to the doors of medical clinics, hospitals and pharmacies, all in an attempt to deal with the aches and pains that come with time. Then there is mental sickness, addictions, and terminal illnesses that can ravage the body regardless of age. Unfortunately many of our lives are connected by the reality of physical sickness.
We are not “dots” all alone on a page but we are connected by brokenness. Each of us could probably tell a story or two, fill a few pages talking about how divorce, alcoholism or physical sickness or other events have shaped our lives, influenced our prayers, occupied our minds and tried our patience.
However, for many of us there is another reality that connects us, like a line between two dots - it is our hope in the Christ of Christmas. It is our journey of faith! Many of us could tell a story or two, fill a few pages talking about how faith has sustained us, how God’s Word has strengthened us, how the Body of Christ has rallied around us.
It is our brokenness that draws us to the manger where we join the magi and worship this Christ. The Son of God of which it was said:
"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us." Matthew 1:21-23
And then as He began His public ministry He said of Himself:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,  to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour." Luke 4:18-19
We are not dots all alone on a page. Our lives are connected. Our journeys intersect at many points. Yet I am most grateful that what connects us most deeply in this life and will connect us for eternity is not our brokenness but our hope in this Christ of Christmas!
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!  "Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?"  "Who has ever given to God,that God should repay him?"
 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.