Got Dots?

I'll ask an obvious question. What do you see in the square? Yes. A dot. We could place this dot anywhere inside or outside the square. We could change the background color. We could make the dot even smaller. No matter. We'd still focus on the dot. Forget the immense space around it. It's all about the dot. We do this to people. We do this to ourselves. We reduce ourselves and others to "the dot." Or, we expand the dot until it eclipses all other traits in others and within ourselves. We're always reducing, expanding, or even changing its shape---but we still focus on the dot.

"Your focus determines your vision," says Christian author and speaker, Christine Caine. I've made her powerful testimony this post's theme. (Christine is a featured speaker on the Christian program Life Today with James and Betty Robison. Her website is my source at

During my senior year of high school, my seminary class studied the Old Testament. I found its writing foreboding and downright scary---and sometimes boring. Still, I discovered some sparkly gems in its pages. One gem illustrates the story of the "twelve spies sent by Moses to search the land of Canaan" (Numbers 13). Let's connect the dots within this account:

And the Lord spake unto Moses saying, send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them. All those men were heads of the children of Israel. And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan and see the land what it is and the people that dwell therein whether they be strong or weak, few or many. And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad, and what cities they be whether in tents or strongholds. And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land (Numbers 13: 1-19).

"Conquering the Land of Canaan" by Joshua Sun Martin

The scriptures repeatedly emphasize that Caanan was there for the taking with God's blessing and assurance. So, the ten spies spent 40 days exploring the land and marveled at its bounty and beauty. With the delicious fruit in hand, they returned to Moses, Aaron, and the Israelite congregation to report their findings. Here's their report:

We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey, and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless, the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great.

The spies proceed to tell Moses about all the scary people and various tribes who inhabit Canaan. Caleb, a prominent Israelite leader and one of the spies, is undaunted. He urges the congregation, "Let us go up at once, and possess [the land], for we are well able to overcome it (v. 30).

But the men said, 'We be not able to go against the people; for they are stronger than we. And the spies brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched. They said the land eateth up the inhabitants thereof, and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw giants, and their sons of Anak, which come of the giants; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.

Upon hearing the ominous account, the Israelite congregation "weeps and wails against Moses" saying,

Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword and our wives and children should be a prey? Were it better not to return to Egypt? (14:2) (By the way, how many times did the Israelites make demands of Moses to return them to Egypt's bondage?! They were never satisfied.)

Whipped into a frenzy of fear and anger, the Israelites plan to stone Moses and Aaron. (Talk about crazy-making over dots!) Let's take a second look at the facts:

  • The leaders/spies were chosen and respected leaders. Moses trusted them and placed this important Canaan stewardship in their hands. (Caleb and Joshua were part of this group.)

  • These leaders had personally experienced Israelite deliverance through God's miraculous intervention: They had witnessed the supernatural plagues God had cast upon Egypt---forcing Pharaoh to free their people. They watched the Red Sea divide as they crossed it, and they had eaten manna sent from heaven.

  • But due to their lack of faith, these leaders (except for Joshua and Caleb) became the critics, the naysayers, and the cowards.

  • Caleb and Joshua were no more special than the other leaders Moses had selected. However, Caleb and Joshua were the only ones who whole-heartedly followed God and believed He would fulfill His promises. (As an aside, Caleb and Joshua were the only ones in the group who didn't eventually die of the plaque while wandering in the wilderness.)

  • The land of Caanan had already been promised to the Israelites. It wasn't a question of "if," but "how" the land would be given to them.

  • These leaders still doubted the Lord's ability. Their fear turned God's promise from a "how" to an "if." They got too caught up in the practicality, policies and procedures and become overwhelmed by the dots. (Often, we treat God the same way regarding our own lack of faith. We treat Him as if He doesn't know what He knows or can't do what He does.)

  • The leaders talk as if the promised land of Canaan will "devour" them. They redefine the land from fruitful to beastly. They claim that God's promise becomes something to fear; the promise will somehow devour the Israelites.

  • They redefine Canaan's inhabitants from "people" to "giants." (They expand the dot to a giant-sized proportion.)

  • The leaders redefine themselves as "grasshoppers." (They reduce themselves to a dot.)

  • The leaders assume that Canaan's inhabitants view them as "grasshoppers." (In other words, if I see myself as a grasshopper, I assume others see me as a grasshopper too---in short, a small dot. Thus, I become too preoccupied with "my dot/s.")

  • Caleb defies the practicality and logic of the spies and the Israelites. Instead he says, "If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land. Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us; their defense is departed from them, and the Lord is with us; fear them not" (14:8-10).

"Moses and the Messengers From Canaan" by Lanfranco

Christine Caine makes further observations as to how we undermine our faith:

Too often, we take our eyes off of God's promises. God has already said, 'Yes, you have the promise.' We have our eyes off God and onto ourselves. But God says, 'I didn't ask you to look at yourself, I asked you to look at me.' This is how we get weary in our faith walk. We run out of the living water rather than running to the living water. We get our eyes off the promise and onto the challenge. The spies were literally holding the promise [the fruit] in their hands, but can only see the giants. Despite the storms we can still hold on to our faith; but our practicality takes over our faith. You will die in the wilderness (like the spies) if you focus on your fears and your giants. When it's easy not to see the promise of God, you think it will destroy and devour you; we're afraid that the promise will devour us. Don't be a naysayer or a critic. Make God bigger than your weaknesses, limitations, and fears. Otherwise, you'll say 'no" when God says 'go.' It's not about what you're not, it's about who He is. It's not about the size of our giants but about the size of our God. See with the eye of faith. Fix your eyes on Christ not on your circumstances, not on your doubts. That way, you make God bigger.

Our dot could be anything---a financial crisis, an emotional crisis, a relationship, a health problem, a spiritual problem, a big or small issue. However, if we focus on the space around the dot, we see there's a lot more of it than the dot. The color of the space surrounding the dot could be beautifully glorious. Still, we're trained to ignore the space and spot the dot, focus on the dot, obsess over the dot, and even kill ourselves over the dot.

So, how do we shift our focus from the dot? First, we make God bigger than the dot. Second, we see the Savior as the white space surrounding the dot. Third, we have faith in His atonement to erase the dot. Lastly, we create something beautiful from our "dot" anxiety and suffering. We can re-program our minds to focus on the space despite the dots screaming for our attention. That doesn't mean we ignore the dot; it just doesn't get so much of our focus. Instead, we magnify God rather than the problem or challenge. Surely, we have the power to choose.

On the other hand, dots can be beautiful when we make them work for us and not against us. The scriptures tell us that the Lord will take our weaknesses (dots) and make them strong (The Book of Ether). I studied art for a few years. One of the mediums I worked in was pen and ink. Using a method called pointillism, I'd create pictures out of thousands of dots. The work was painstaking and detailed, but the results were amazing. The renderings below are not my work, but we can see the power of dots and how we arrange them to beautify. Black dots, white dots, colorful dots, and dots of all sizes make stunningly beautiful renderings:

Pointillism in Pen and Ink (Artist Unknown)

"La Seine a La Grande" by Georges Seurat

"Pointillism #4" by Samaurai Jose

I love Christine Caine's wonderful example and her passion for God. I'll end this post with her rallying cry:

  • "There is no problem that God cannot solve.

  • There is no enemy that God cannot defeat.

  • There is no disease that God cannot heal.

  • There is no chaos to which God cannot bring order.

  • There is no disaster for which God cannot bring joy.

  • There is no sin that God cannot forgive.

  • There is no promise that God cannot fulfill.

  • There is no heart that God cannot mend.

  • There is no relationship that God cannot restore.

  • There is no anxiety to which God cannot bring peace.

  • There is no loss that God cannot bring hope.

  • There is no past that God cannot redeem.

  • There is no need that God cannot meet.

  • There is no mountain that God cannot move.

  • There is no prayer too big for God to answer.

  • There is no person that God cannot save.

  • There is no death from which God cannot bring life.

  • There is no bondage that God cannot break.

  • There is nothing God cannot do!"

I add my testimony of God's power to Christine's. And I'm determined to grow my faith and hone my focus until my actions reflect what I know.

Here's to erasing our dots, connecting our dots, and putting our dots into perspective,