Can you explain "taste"? Most of us would say some things "taste" sweet, others sour. Maybe we'd describe some things as "yummy" and others as "yucky". Either of these explanations would be correct, for taste is something we each "sense" in our own way, although we are all "built" with the same "sensations" in our taste buds. It depends on WHAT we are tasting, WHEN we are tasting it, and WHAT ELSE we've been tasting just before we tasted whatever it is we are experiencing right now, doesn't it? For example, a good cup of hot coffee tastes really good on a cold morning, or just as you are trying to get your eyes open. But...have you ever had a cup of coffee in the morning after you have had a night of indulging on onions and garlic? The "taste" of coffee is masked a little by what it was we experienced the night before. Brush your teeth and use a little mouthwash! The experience changes, does it not?
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. (Psalm 34:8-9 NIV)
In a physical sense, taste is made up of different things such as texture, temperature, presentation, and even smell. If something has a pleasant texture (not too hard, too soft, but just right), we enjoy it a little more. If something is way too hot, we burn our tongues and then taste is totally "skewed" by being "burnt". What we see affects what we taste - this is the idea behind great chefs spending so much time on presentation. I don't actually do much with the garnish on my plate, but it looks good! In fact, it "draws" my eye to the plate and makes the discovery of the food that much nicer. Smell plays into our taste because so much of what we take in is experienced in more than one way. We are made to experience things with all our senses, aren't we?
Now, in looking at our passage, David challenges us to "taste and see" that the Lord is good. In other words, he is challenging us to experience God in a multi-faceted way. Too many times we "taste" and "see" God in very limited ways - simply because we "think" God should only be experienced in this way or that. We limit our perception of God based on our unwillingness, or just our lack of us being aware God is all around us, waiting to be experienced by all our "senses". If we limit the experience of God in our lives, we miss out on the "fullness" of what God has for us. For example, hold your nose and eat a piece of chocolate. Yep, the texture was the same - the smoothness of the chocolate was experienced. You might even get a little hint of the sweetness of the chocolate, but do you get the full experience? I have never been to Hershey, Pennsylvania, but folks tell me the "smell" is divine! To really "experience" chocolate, I think it would be most perfect to eat it while taking in the rich aroma of it being made!
In considering what makes up "taste", we might just consider the following things about how we experience God in our lives:
- His presence is sweet. The moment we experience his presence, there is a "sweetness" which we also experience. For some of us, we will equate this to the richness of God's grace - taken in, experienced fully, we are left with nothing but the taste of "sweetness". We might also equate this to the "mildness" of his presence - not poking or prodding, but gently enveloping us in his rich graces. Grace is indeed "sweet" to the senses, but it must be experienced with all of our senses in order to fully be appreciated. Maybe this is why David told us to taste and see. Experience the sweetness, the richness of the texture of grace - but also the beauty beheld in seeing his grace change what we could not. Just sayin!
- His Word may produce a little bit of bitter or sour taste for a period of time. Yep, you read this right - bitterness or sourness. Now, lest you think I am being a little "down on God", hear me out. God's Word is indeed a very "sweet" thing most of the time, but think of all the words he spoke through the prophets of old. Not all those words were the sweetest! Some of them were downright "sour" or "bitter" when they were experienced. Sometimes our sin or unfaithfulness brings us the experience of "tasting" God's words of admonishment or chastisement. We need these words, but they aren't "sweet" to the taste immediately. Thinking back to what I presented at the beginning, the things we experience prior to tasting God's grace leave us with skewed taste. We need some "cleansing" before we can really appreciate what God desires for us to experience. Grace words can also be a little bitter or sour at first - just sayin!
- His influence in our lives is impacted by the various "senses" we utilize to "intake" it fully and the "timing" of our "intake". The WHEN is just as important as the WHAT when we consider our "intake". For example, eat just before you go to bed and you may not sleep well that night. Moms used to tell their kids to stay out of the pool just after eating because some awful thing might happen to them if they swam with full stomachs. The truth is, the body is just so focused on digesting the big meal, it doesn't make sense to "tax it" by also adding a great deal of physical exercise right after we take in the big meal. The "intake" of God's word and his grace is always excellent - the "timing" of our intake makes all the difference in how well we experience it! Prepared hearts enjoy the intake much more than when the intake is on the fly! Just sayin!
Just a few thoughts on "sensing" God today. If you haven't opened up all your senses to experiencing God, maybe it is time you did! You don't know what you are missing! Just sayin!