Dots and Circles

Gwen SmithBlog, Confession, Control, Devotions, Life Clutter, Priorities 22 Comments

I once listened to a talk on the foundations of contemporary discipleship given by scholar and apologist Ravi Zacharias. Toward the end of his lecture, Ravi spoke of a conversation he had with a former Muslim who had become a Christian. The gentleman humbly explained to Mr. Zacharias that there is a compelling contrast between the way he was taught as a Muslim to view faith and the way he sees faith being perceived in the lives of many Christians.

He drew a circle and a small dot inside the circle.

After this, he drew another circle and a small dot in the other circle.

Then he told Ravi that since he’d become a Christian, what he sees is that the circle of the Christian seems to be his life, and the dot is his faith. The contrast is that when he was a Muslim, he was taught that the circle was to be his faith and the dot his life.

Zacharias asked him what he thought about the contrast.

Essentially, the former Muslim’s response to Ravi was this, “As Christians we’ve got it all wrong. We’ve got it all wrong! God should be first. The circle. Everything else should be the dot.

I heard this story and a hush fell over my heart. Conviction. Embarrassment. I felt as if I’ve been found out.

Because I often perceive life as being all about ME.

Me. Me. Me.

Questions rise in my mind. Do I really worship God above all else? Am I designed and created to live for Him or for me? Do I center my life around the One who gives life – or do I simply “include” Him among the many small dots?

The fire of conviction warms me. Bends my knees. I know the answer to these questions. He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30) (TWEET this!)

He Must Increase

YES… this.

I breathe in His deep grace and, once again, am thankful that the kindness of the Lord leads me to repentance and recalibrates my heart to His. Refocuses my mind and soul on what really matters.

And I pray the words of the old hymn penned by Adelaide A. Pollard:

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me, I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me.

Dear Lord, You are the circle. I am the dot. Forgive me for the times – the many, many times – when I invert this. Let me be found in You – in adoration of You, led by Your Spirit, washed in Your grace. Help me live for You today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Don’t gloss over this message! Consider where you really are with this. Reflect. Repent if needed. Respond to God in prayer. Go deep with Him. And be honest. God can handle your honesty. I’d love to hear what’s on your heart with all of this. CLICK HERE to leave a comment. Let’s take the conversation deeper and encourage one another.

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Comments 22

  1. I remember lying in my room when I was in high school and writing in a journal to my future husband. I’d write all sorts of notes and questions and things I’d wonder or ask this man when I eventually met him. I would wonder where he was and what he was doing and if he was thinking about me too. It has always been such a strong desire in my heart to find a wonderful man to marry, someone who would love me and cherish me and appreciate me for the person I am. I always thought I would get married right out of college, just like my parents, so when that plan didn’t work out, I started to get discouraged. A school mate snatched my future husbdand away from my arms just because she had spiritual powers, all hope was lost to me before i came across the help doctor (
    ) who i confided in, i told him my long story and he helped me regain back my lover with his prayers which is now my husband today. if you have any problem email the help doctor (

  2. I have been reading 1 Samuel about the anointing of King Saul and King David; each were blessed with the Spirit of the LORD. Although both were humble at the start of their journey, one focused on the situation around him instead of on God whereas the other continued to humbly receive the greatest gift: relationship with God Him self. Oh, how many times i have been Saul and continue to struggle. Thanks for sharing the Truth!!!

  3. Have a outlet shopping. When life gets hard shopping when I get nervous shopping. I need to decrease and let him increase. God be my circle and not my dot. Show me how to put you first in my heart. I need you Lord I need you. I have been shopping for over 30 yrs. It’s a habit. I need a God outlet.

  4. Years ago, I committed myself to God. Years ago, I realized that I can’t live my life without Him. Over the years since that commitment I have recommitted myself over and over. He is my world (my circle) and I have known too many instances where He has shown me that I am the dot There is a hymn that is sung in my church that has the words,”I look back in wonder.” As I have looked back, I have seen how God has carried me through. He made clear to me who runs the show and it is not me.

  5. Wow, the Lord always the best timing!! I so needed to read your message today, Gwen. Thank you for your own attention to His ‘small, still voice’.

  6. Thank you Gwen and thank you God for answered prayers. Just this morning on my walk, I prayed for direction in the areas that I am lacking. I also really appreciated the strong reminder to not “gloss over this message” – Thank You Gwen ! – I want to be more than a hearer of the word, but a doer !

  7. This is such a good visual. Thank you for sharing. I am currently dedicating so much time, money, and resources into getting my MBA, which sometimes (somehow) causes me to justify prioritizing my studies over my faith. This just shouldn’t be an option. My education and career goals should be a tiny dot, not the big circle! God’s not going to ask me if I got an A or B in Statistics.

  8. I noticed I must not only include God when making decision for my future, such as jobs,college courses, and nursing programs, but make it all about Him. I struggle with letting my decision be lead by the Spirit and that is because I don’t know how to be still. Teach me Oh Lord. And if anyone has any advice on making God the circle while my decision be the dot, please please share 🙂 Thank you Jesus, thank you all. God bless!

  9. I’m 42 years old and just went though a divorce after being married for 10 years. I have no friends and I feel lost. Please pray for me… Lost and lonely

    1. Fairy, you are loved by God Almighty who gave up His Son, for you. He does passionately loves you–talk to Him, pour out your heart to Him.

    2. Fairy – you have my prayers and sympathies. Life is hard – much harder than I expected. Soak in God’s love and compassion. He is your Father – he wants to take your cheeks in His hands, lift your head and kiss your forehead! He is not surprised or disappointed in where your life is and he has a plan for you. Try not to isolate yourself – join a bible or book club or anything – you need connection. Wish I could hug you…

    3. Fairy,
      I am about a month behind reading this devotion, but I wanted to respond to your post. I am praying for you. Please remember that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. No matter what our circumstances are or how we feel, He is here with you in a tender loving friendship. Move forward gladly and unafraid. God is with you and with Him all things are possible.

  10. What a great visual, how simply put. I am guilty of not always putting God first although, I say that he is most important in my life. Once again God answers my prayers with wonderful examples to bring my focus back where it needs to be. In the center of his circle, His loving arms always around me. Thank you, Gwen. God Bless.

  11. Thank you Gwen and thank you Lord. You’ve described me to a tee. I know I am the circle. I am going about my life always trying harder to please God, always wanting to serve him but I have it backwards. I need to let him have full control. Absolute sway. I love that old hymn. How do I make that real in me. In HIM I live and move and have my being. I have struggled with that for years. I know there is more to this faith than I have experienced. Our pastor has done a couple messages about the Holy spirit. I on my unsure nature asked God to reveal something to me to help me understand completely. I can not do this on my own I need the power of his spirit to come upon me and flow through me.Lord give me a fuller understanding of what it means to be in you. So you can be that circle with me inside you as that dot. Praise God for helping me see.

  12. I recently talked with a good friend about that and we both realized
    that in so many things we say or do, we are so selfish, even in having the goal
    to serve Jesus! But what is this all about? It’s about Jesus!!! But not in trying harder
    to please him, but to adore him.Then we don’t have to try but just listen to
    him and LOVE. Not out of me, but because HE IS WITHIN ME! Such a precious gift
    to know and love Jesus and to be loved by him!

  13. I surrender, you caught me doubting again. I surely am the clay and my Lord Jesus Christ is the Potter. There are times when I think are you done, and I ask is that all, are you through cleaning me out? Then God comes in and says I am not done. Until you leave this earth to join me in Heaven, I am never through loving you and I will never leave you. Please forgive me Lord for doubting your love for me, and for thinking that you are finished with your masterpiece. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Help me to keep believing in you and your word because I have such a hard time thinking of myself as anything more than just ordinary. I have such a hard time thinking of myself as being beautiful or even worthy of being loved by you. I have such a hard time Lord….

  14. I love this perspective of the dot and the circle —- it really hit home —- Thank you ! I love my Girlfriends in God devotions …. I forward so many of them on when I know they apply to someone struggling with something — Thank you ! And I love knowing God can handle my honesty — makes me feel forgiven and redeemed ….

  15. I’ve been found out, Thank GOD, I’ve been found out and convicted! I have been moved out of my apathetic state! For the first time in a long time I was able to genuinely smile and not just stretch my face!! To GOD BE Glory, Honor, And Dominion FOREVER!!

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