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When I was little, my parents taught me how connect-the-dots worked in my coloring book. Even with help, it did take me a while to get the hang of it and connect the dots with smooth lines. While at first I had very little ability to see what something was supposed to be, over time I developed the ability to tell what something was supposed to be before I even started connecting dots. But even when I knew what something was supposed to be, I wouldn’t know or see the finished product unless I put in the work to connect the dots.

Now if my parents hadn’t taught me, I might not have figured it out, I might have taken longer to figure it out, I might not have cared, or someone else would have taught me. Whatever way it would have happened and whether it would have been good or not, it would not have been the way my parents taught me.

When it comes to teaching children (I say, not having any of my own but seeing what happens when people do have them), we can’t just leave them to connect life’s moral and existential dots on their own. We can’t expect them to just know how God wants them to live without being shown a good example. While they might figure it out without you, it goes a lot easier when someone shows them how it works from the start, that way they aren’t stuck still figuring out what to connect and how when they could have been using smoother lines by now. Assuming that they even care to connect the dots at all, without being shown why there are dots in the first place and that they mean something.

If you don’t teach your child how to connect the dots, it’s highly likely that someone else will. Maybe it’s someone who will teach them correctly just as you would and should. But then again maybe it’s someone who has no idea how to connect dots either, and they’re just connecting things until it looks like it might make sense. Maybe someone will come along who connects the dots in a way that looks right, but isn’t the intended picture. If you don’t teach your child correctly first, you’re setting them up for confusion at best and danger at worst.

God has set up dots for us to connect and He’s given us instructions on how to connect them. Once you start getting the hang of it, you start realizing what something is before you even start connecting the dots. But sometimes God will still surprise you and something won’t be quite what you thought it was. It might be a little different than you thought, it might be a lot different. It might be what you thought it was, but more detailed and intricate. Simply connect the dots in the order God intended, and you’ll see what’s really there.