While we were out taking our permitted exercise the other day, we remarked that we could see along the roadside, as we had so many times before, dandelions in full bloom and dandelion clocks (the ones which as children we used to delight in blowing, much to the consternation of our keen gardening neighbours), but that we had never noticed how they got from one to the other. We couldn’t recall ever seeing one at the half-way stage.
So we made a point of looking a little harder from then on, and we were partially successful. There were indeed specimens that were neither in flower nor fully developed as clocks. But putting each example of what we saw onto an imaginary examination table, we still could not work out the order of the stages to get a complete picture of the cycle.
Now I am quite sure there are people out there who could explain it to us, and perhaps one day someone will. I could probably enter “Life cycle of a dandelion” in my computer search engine and see it all set out in easy stages. But for the moment it remains an unconnected mystery.
The wonderful thing is that my lack of understanding does not stop it happening, nor prevent me from enjoying the utter beauty of those glorious splashes of yellow reflecting the sun’s light, nor the breath-taking delicacy and artistry of a perfectly formed head of seeds.
There are so many things about the way God deals with us and provides for us that we do not understand. Sometimes that is because we have never stopped to notice. Sometimes we simply haven’t the capacity or the language to analyse and describe how these things are and happen. But that does not mean they are not actual or possible.
The Bible never stops us asking questions or seeking understanding – indeed it encourages us to do so – as long as we do not make the reality of God’s grace and work dependent on our being able to explain it.
It was a lesson that the distressingly afflicted Job came to learn in that not often read story from the Hebrew Scriptures. Having railed at God that things were just not the way they should be, he then sat quiet while God took him on a tour of many wonders of the universe and asked him what part he played in the conception and birth of them all. He had no answer, but could not deny that at last he had seen God with his own eyes.
“Oh what a mystery – meekness and majesty! Bow down and worship, for this is your God.” (Graham Kendrick: 1986)