As August races to the end of itself, I see the word “harvest” cropping up everywhere as stores shift from school supplies as the lead ad to autumn leaves, apples, and pumpkins. Autumn is my favorite season in Ohio. The temperature is still delightful. It is still warm, but the sticky humidity of summer is gone and sitting on the deck in the evening might mean I want something warm to sip instead of an iced tea or lemonade.
I am not too eager to see summer end, however, and that was even true when our children were young. I wasn’t happy to see them go back to school and start the school schedule that puts new boundaries up for bedtime and almost everything else. The children have been grown and gone for some time and though I relish autumn, I don’t like to let go of summer.
Summer brings a special goodness to our table. I no longer rely on the grocery store to supply me with produce shipped in from places hundreds of miles away. In summer I can visit farmer’s markets that pop up as well as my local orchard and discover the pleasure of choosing vegetables and fruit that are ripe when they are picked. My grocery store will even have some locally grown items as well.
Don’t misunderstand me. I appreciate the plentiful variety of produce my grocery store has all through the winter and spring, but there is a huge difference to the color, fragrance, and taste of a fresh picked ripe peach or ear of corn in later summer. Green beans can actually snap when I prepare them rather than bend under my fingers. Concord grapes are just around the corner too, but the hardest part of summer’s bounty coming to an end is not finding locally grown vine-ripened tomatoes.
Oh, yes, there will be red things in the vegetable aisle at the grocery store and the sign will say tomatoes, but they will be a sad representation of the lush, juicy, red vine-ripened tomatoes we enjoy until the first frost arrives. They have little taste and nothing to entice me except to adorn a salad in the hope there might be some nutrition in them somewhere. These tomatoes seem to be imposters. How could they be anything else? They are picked when green, hard, and tough. Then they are subjected to the gas, ethylene, that makes the skins of the tomato become red and helps to ripen them.
The problem for me is that somewhere in February I am enticed by the red color and buy a few of these imposters. I forget the taste of the vine-ripened varieties that disappear by October or late September depending on the frost. One slice, one taste, and I am disappointed and reminded this is an imposter.
When the psalmist says “O taste and see that the Lord is good” at the beginning of Psalm 34, what does he want to convey?
I love what Mathew Henry’s Commentary says about this:
“The goodness of God includes both the beauty and amiableness of his being and the bounty and beneficence of his providence and grace; and accordingly, (1.) We must taste that he is a bountiful benefactor, relish the goodness of God in all his gifts to us, and reckon the savor and sweetness of them. Let God’s goodness be rolled under the tongue as a sweet morsel. (2.) We must see that he is a beautiful being, and delight in the contemplation of his infinite perfections. By taste and sight we both make discoveries and take complacency. Taste and see God’s goodness, that is, take notice of it and take the comfort of it, 1 Pt. 2:3. he is good, for he makes all those that trust in him truly blessed; let us therefore be so convinced of his goodness as thereby to be encouraged in the worst of times to trust in him.”
When we “taste and see” the Lord I am not suggesting He falls in the category of a tomato, but I am suggesting that when we do “taste and see” we will discover He is genuine and real. There is nothing fake about Him. He is “the real deal.”
In other places we hear Jesus telling us to learn of Him. That adds another dimension to what the psalmist says in the verse I refer to. In both passages I am reminded that I have much to learn, but that can only happen if I am humble enough to admit there is much to learn.
In Hannah Anderson’s book, Humble Roots, she reminds us of that.
“Humility…predisposes us to believe that we always have something to learn. Because humility reminds us of our dependency and limitations, it also reminds us of the limits of our mind. It reminds us that there is always a place where our vision could be corrected or our understanding grow.”
To embrace the wisdom she writes about, you and I will need to take time to “taste and see.” To do that, we will also need to humble ourselves, slow our pace, and rest in His presence. Perhaps then we will gain a glimpse of the description Matthew Henry describes. If we do, I know stress and anxiety will begin to drain away and we will know His peace no matter what is happening in the world around us or the world beyond our front door.