Glory be to God for dappled shade…..

I’m a born critic.

Part nature, part nurture.

Sceptical of most things that can’t be logically explained.

I value authenticity, honesty, principled ideals in others.

I find it hard to sit through so called ‘pentecostal’ or ‘charismatic’ church gatherings where enthusiasm is generated by words, repetition of words, arm waving and multiple calls for healing or ‘words of prophecy’. Personally speaking, God has never met me there.

But God does meet me in the margin of my own sceptical disbelief and the ‘dappled shade’ of His presence.

And that’s how it was as I read the ancient script of 2 Kings chapter four recently: an extravagant and rather poorly explained account of the miraculous production of copious amounts of oil, a healing from a long term barren state, a raising from the dead, a miraculous provision of food in famine, and neutralising of a poisonous food substance, all in one chapter.

I took a deep breath, shut my bible and walked off, literally. I needed time to think it through, to try to make some rational sense of the historical context and the bigger picture that perhaps I was missing.

And God followed me.


Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who had brought His people out of slavery to a promised land in the most remarkable and ‘unbelievable’ way had changed the focus of his attention from Kings and prophets to ordinary folk.

All the hallmarks of God’s influence are here:

Blessing for faithfulness to God

A trademark economy of giving to others and receiving from God.

A God who waits to be invited into the lives of individuals.


I believe this story is a true account.

I believe God walks with us today in the ‘dappled shade’. A place where we come face to face with a powerful God, where belief is born amid doubt and sceptical thoughts, and unanswered questions.


I’ve not seen any miracles before or since.

But, I do believe God walks with me, and meets my needs: regularly, quietly, faithfully, with kindness, with grace, with correction, with challenges.

And, I know that I will always find God in the dappled things.

Glory be to God for dappled things –
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
      And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                Praise him.
Pied Beauty. Gerard Manley Hopkins

One thought on “Glory be to God for dappled shade…..

  1. The Woman from Shunem would not have believed Elisha’s God could heal her Son if she hadn’t first experienced God’s power spoken through the prophet Elisha to cure her barrenness and provide that son in the first place.

    Jesus says to the Samaritan woman
    ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that is asking you for a drink you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’

    How well do we know the gift of God?

    George Muller who ran an orphanage prayed daily out of necessity because he relied on God to put food put on the table as he had no other means of providing it.
    Perhaps if we were one of the orphans who sat at his table and witnessed this miracle we would be more inclined to believe in the supernatural God.

    In our culture today we have either become so reliant on self or others that God has become our insurance rather than assurance.
    Faith has become a by-word for our religious practices rather than dependence on God.

    Have we reduced the supernatural life giver and sustainer of the universe to the natural boundaries of our own reasoning and understanding?


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