As I write this, I am sipping on one of my favorite teas beside a lavender scented candle. In the overall scheme of things, I might not consider them to be the most important things in my life, but they give me pleasure and I don’t rush my consumption of them. Some of the things we most enjoy are ones we take time to savor and sip rather than gulp down.
I take time to allow the very best chocolate to melt more slowly in my mouth to savor every second of its deliciousness. I may like chocolates I grab at the grocery store or gas station (Yes, I am a chocolate lover.) and yet these are not the same as the taste of a luscious Swiss or Belgian chocolate truffle I bite into more slowly and allow to melt gradually.
I may go through a drive through window for a cup of coffee or coffee beverage to keep me alert as I am driving or while working at my desk, but the coffee I enjoy the most is a fresh brewed cup I can sip and notice all the flavors that I discover. Those are the kinds of coffee we tend to take pleasure in when we meet a friend for a leisurely visit.
From the time we are born we use the sense of taste to not only fulfill our basic needs of hunger but also to provide pleasure and allow us to discover a great many things in our world. (Most of you recall how much a baby puts in his or her mouth as discovering the world outside of mommy begins.) God has given us between 2,000 and 10,000 taste buds on the back and front of our tongues. They help us distinguish between sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and savory. Little wonder the things we find most delicious we try to make last if we can and why we avoid things that don’t appeal to us. Any of us who lose that sense of taste due to illness or something else are aware of how special the gift of taste is and all it allows us to experience.
It recalls what the Psalmist reminds us of about God:
“Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”Psalm 34:8 (NIV)
When I read those words and take time to reflect on them it seems obvious that He invites us to savor all He has to show us of Him. Our time in discovering and tasting Him should not be like chowing down a fast-food burger and fries but more like the way we savor every nuance of fine chocolate, coffee, or tea on our tongue and lips. Only then will we come to know his goodness.
Our days can start off with a bang and distractions from the moment we open our eyes. Such days we might grab food on the run or eat it standing up as we make our lunch for the day. Our time with God might be a quick Bible verse that shows up on our phone or as the theme of our devotional book and our prayer might be short requests of what we need to get through the next ten minutes or next ten hours. That isn’t a bad thing and I suspect God is not surprised that happens to most of us. Many of us cannot get up an hour earlier to spend leisure time with Him every day but to grow in intimacy with Him and truly taste Him we will need time to savor Him, reflect on what we taste, and digest it slowly.
We likely intend to take more time to become intimate with Christ. We know what it feels like when we do manage it versus those other days. We even know that when we discipline the time for savoring Him that somehow, we still accomplish everything on our “to do” list, maybe even more. (Have you ever noticed how surprising that can be?) In the complexities of our lives and tangled days in the environment of chaos and darkness spreading over the world, I doubt we will fare very well if we do not take time to taste Christ more fully and gain the nourishment we need to cope with whatever a day throws at us. It’s what makes the difference in whether we can stand on the foundation we gain from such times.
Our culture in every area pushes us to do more, be more, achieve higher levels of excellence and it can start to nudge us toward a performance mentality that even creeps into our spiritual lives. We might measure what we see as growth by how much we serve in our faith communities, how many Bible chapters we consume daily, or whether we have read the best and latest theological works and yet find ourselves feeling empty at the end of it all even though these are good things.
Why? Perhaps it is because these do not move us into the depths of relationship with Christ.
“Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.”Richard Foster
Notice how often the Bible uses food as a metaphor to teach us something about God and what our hunger stems from beyond our physical appetite.
“We hunger to know and be known. We hunger for others to accept, understand, and adore us. We hunger for someone to love and cherish with our affection.”Margaret Feinberg
In our complicated schedules and timetables, we make time for what seems to be the most important things. Each day we are invited to taste and see, to savor the best things and it is this investment that will allow us to see God’s goodness.