I have two kids. JJ is six months old and puts everything in his mouth. Sienna is two and let’s just say she can be a picky eater. If we try to feed her something that she hasn’t tried before it is an absolute mission to get her to try it. We’re talking tears and tantrums. The funny thing is that it usually only takes one bite of something for her to see that it is actually really yummy. And then in her little toddler voice, we hear, “mmm!” Music to any parent’s ears.
Do you remember the last time you tried a new food? Some of you love trying new things to eat. You love the variety and the experiences you get from jumping into the unknown. Others are meat and potatoes kind of people. You know what you like and are more than happy to stick with it. There’s no shame in ordering a steak cooked exactly the way that you like it. That’s why the waiter asks you how you want it done after all.
Tasting something new involves an element of risk. Will I like it? Will I hate it? If I don’t like it will I have wasted my time and money and still go hungry?
That’s where our verse of the year comes in: Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. – Psalm 34:8
In this verse, God invites us to risk trusting him enough to just try a taste of who he is. It promises that once we experience who he really is, then we will know that he is good.
Trying a relationship with God out for the first time is as exhilarating as it is frightening. People can be afraid to try God out because they think he might not be as good as people say he is. Or maybe they think they’ve tried God before and he didn’t come through for them.
I’m reminded of a story that a good friend of mine once told me. There was a family. Mum dad and a couple of kids. The parents wanted to make sure their kids would eat healthily. So came up with a plan that whenever the kids asked for ice cream they would give them mouldy bread instead. The idea was that the kids would associate ice cream with mouldy bread and therefore not ruin their teeth with sugary foods like that in the future.
The kids grew up, having never eaten real ice cream before. When a friend invited them to go get some down at the beach one day, they responded with, “why would you ever want to do that?” In their minds, they had experienced ice cream and found it disgusting. After much arguing and convincing their friend managed to get them to just try one lick. Once they started they just couldn’t stop. What they had thought ice cream was, turned out to be totally and completely false. But they could only know that once they tried the genuine article.
I think a lot of people experience God the same way. We might be told about how God is good by a grandparent, friend, or colleague but then the experience we get handed by them is the equivalent of mouldy bread. Maybe it’s a dry and boring church service that we don’t understand, maybe it’s an overly strict rule that we feel is unfair or a judgmental and hypocritical response to something that we said or did. Whatever it is, the experience doesn’t quite live up to the promise. We’re told God is good but our experience of him, or at least of his followers is mismatched.
John Dickson (Australian author, academic, and speaker) has a great example of how this works. He sets out to learn Bach’s cello suites after spending only one week learning the cello. He says that just like you wouldn’t judge Bach’s original score by his bad performance of it, we shouldn’t judge God by the terrible ways that Christians have misrepresented him. Instead, we should take a look at the source and judge what Jesus has said on his own merits, rather than how well or badly his followers try to follow him.
What this verse invites us to do is to put aside our preconceived notions of what God is like and actually go to Him to see what He is like for ourselves. To not just read about Him or hear about Him but actually taste Him. That is, to experience Him personally in a relationship.
So I wonder if that’s you right now, would you take up the invitation to taste and see if God really is all that he’s cracked up to be?
You can read the Bible online for free at www.bible.com or download the YouVersion Bible app. The app has helpful tools to understand the Bible and guide you through prayer. Why not give it a try?
I’m looking forward to hearing about your experiences as you taste and see that the Lord is good.
Isaiah Logan, College Pastor