Chapter 22 – Taste

 

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

– Psalm 34:8, NIV

I love food. Flavour is, to me, one of the most important parts of life. It is one of the most memorable elements of culture, too – and enjoying food together is the focal point of many social gatherings. What would life be like, I wonder, without the sense of taste? I also love to experiment with food, curious to try different combinations of fruits with savoury dishes and the like, to discover new flavours. My husband is always curious to try strange delicacies from other cultures, no matter how obscure they may seem – he is very bold in this area!

When we have a desire, a curiosity, a need, to try new things in life, this can be healthy and wonderful, and can lead us to many new places. It can also become dangerous if not handled in a thoughtful and balanced way, under the wisdom of God. I could decide that out of my curiosity and my love of sweet things I need to taste every type of cake that exists – however, my intention to satisfy my curiosity might not be good for me. A friend of mine lives by the philosophy of, “you’ll never know unless you try”, and as a result has put himself in some very dangerous positions for the sake of pursuing curiosity. Perhaps this attitude can at times be taken too far.

Those of us whose curiosity outweighs our desire to remain within the safety of our comfort zone can easily be led into tricky situations. It is good to venture outside of what we have always known, but perhaps only if we venture with God’s wisdom and guidance so that we do not end up with heavy regrets. For example, we have all known teenagers who have pursued a curiosity to know what sex is like, and have ended up with a whole load of baggage to deal with having not waited until the right time to satisfy their curiosity. It is the same with drugs – people long to experience for themselves what they have heard others talking about, and might regret it later. In the words of Edmund Burke, “The first and simplest emotion which we discover in the human mind, is curiosity”.

Nothing harms or destroys us but the wrong use of that liberty of choice which God has entrusted to us.

– William Law

We all know that feeling of curiosity, a hunger for something beyond our experience, a temptation to know or encounter something for ourselves that may or may not be enjoyable – but seems worth the risk to try. This is the beauty of the human mind: a longing to experiment, to discover, to learn… It is a great quality, without which we would never try new things, and life would be boring. If Moses had not been curious when he saw the bush that was flaming and yet not burning up, what would have become of the Israelites in that time?

However, this need to taste new things must remain within the protective cover of God’s love. May we surrender our curiosity to Him and allow Him to shape it so that we pursue only the things that are good, and not damaging or sinful desires. When we have tasted and seen the goodness of the Lord (Psalm 34:8), we begin to see our curious desires in the light of what He has already given us – we have the ability to recognise that actually we have more than we could ever need, and so no curiosity could be more important than what we already have in Christ. The awareness of His goodness and grace puts all other temptation into the right perspective as we learn to prioritise seeking and knowing Him.

So may we surrender to God, and allow Him to teach us to be curious for Him and pursue Him above all other desires. Proverbs 27:7 (NIV) tells us that “One who is full loathes honey from the comb, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.” If we are “full” of what God wants for us and what He has given to us, our curiosity and inclination towards the things that are not good for us no longer appeal so much to us. But if God is not the One from whom we receive our nourishment, then our lives are empty and we are more tempted to search for meaning and pleasure and truth in all kinds of things that are not of God, to fulfil that need within us.

Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.

– Ezekiel 3:3, NIV

God always gives us what is good for us – though sometimes it might not taste good, as we see in Gethsemane when Jesus begged the Father with tears of anguish and blood-like sweat to take away the cup of suffering that was before Him. In Psalm 81:10 (NLT) God tells us, “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it with good things”. Do we believe this? Is our mouth open in His direction, so that we can receive the good things He has for us? Or are we endlessly seeking to taste new and different and exciting things which could lead us further and further away from His path? Many followers of the New Age movement are endlessly seeking new spiritual experiences, spiritual ‘highs’, for the sake of personal gratification – whereas God wants us to seek Him for His own sake, not just for the experiences or the blessings that He might give us. Proverbs 20:17 (NIV) says, “Food gained by fraud tastes sweet, but one ends up with a mouth full of gravel”. May we surrender our mouths to God and allow Him to fill them with good things, teaching us to seek Him above all other tempting curiosities.

Sin and the child of God are incompatible. They may occasionally meet; they cannot live together in harmony

– John R. W. Stott

When I lived in Bolivia I was working in a home for teenage girls who had lived on the streets, and so one of the challenges and potential risks of having new girls move into the home was that they might introduce damaging things to the other girls. We saw this happening on a number of occasions – from smoking to self-harm, and even ouija. Of course we talked with the girls about these things and about the damage that can come from them, but this did not always stop them from making bad decisions to satisfy their curiosities.

Our curiosity can be a great thing and can lead us to discover amazing beauty in life, but can also be a significant stumbling block if we are not careful. Genesis 3 tells of how Eve was curious to know what the fruit tasted like, and to know what the wisdom of God tasted like, and so she gave in to temptation and tried the fruit – with considerably negative consequences not only for her but for all future generations. Oscar Wilde pointed out that “The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing”. May we surrender our tongues to God, so that He can reveal to us the truth of each situation, enabling us to see the consequences of our choices before we make them. Then we will be strengthened and equipped by Him to make the right choices and walk in His ways, living under the light of His wisdom.

What would you expect? Sin will not come to you, saying, “I am sin.” It would do little harm if it did. Sin always seems “good, and pleasant, and desirable,” at the time of commission.


– James Charles J. C. Ryle

God has given us curiosity. Albert Einstein famously said, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” So may we surrender our curiosity back to God so that He can use it to strengthen our relationship with Him. I believe that when we taste of the goodness of God we automatically long for more – we develop a curiosity, a longing, a need to taste His goodness afresh – and He alone will satisfy us. One of the things I find most amazing about God is that there is always more. No matter how much time we spend in prayer and seeking Him or receiving from Him, there is always more to be discovered about Him – He is immeasurably greater than we can imagine, and His attributes are innumerable. No matter how many revelations of aspects of His character He gives us, there is always so much more to discover and get to know. And there is so much more to adore Him for than we are aware of – yet we are invited to know Him personally and walk with Him on this curious adventure to discover who He is, and taste His goodness and mercy and love – endlessly!

Frederick Seitz tells us that “A good scientist is a person in whom the childhood quality of perennial curiosity lingers on. Once he gets an answer, he has other questions”. So may we surrender our tongues to God, and let Him give us a craving for more of Him, a taste of His goodness that leads us to long for more, for fresh tastes of who He is and what He has for us every day. As we surrender our tongues to Him, may He shape our curiosities and lead us into a deeper yearning for Him and a more awe-inspiring awareness of His immeasurable greatness, so that seeking and knowing Him becomes more attractive to us than whatever other curiosities might lead us away from Him. As we surrender may He change our attitudes so that we long for a fuller knowledge of Him above all other cravings, and so that we pursue those longings more deliberately than our pursuit of other interests, and with a childlike eagerness and excitement to find out more about Him and get to know Him better.

 

Giver of Life,

Thank You for the gift of curiosity that You have given us.

Thank You for the wisdom and guidance You give us, so that we can pursue curiosity healthily, with You!

Please forgive me for letting myself sin as a result of curiosity.

Please satisfy my hunger and let me taste and see Your goodness – that I might crave for more!

I surrender to You my tongue; please give me a desire for You that overcomes all other desires.

Give me a hunger and a longing for more of who You are, to know You and come closer to You.

May this desire consume my being and lead me into intimacy with You, and keep me away from evil desires.

I surrender to You my mouth – please shape it so that I crave the taste of Your presence over everything else.

I can’t do it on my own; I need Your transformation.

I surrender to Your will – please teach me, Lord!

Please shape my understanding.

I give You my mouth and I ask that You’d replace it with Your own.

May I live in Your ways, guided by a hunger for You and a desire to taste more of who You are.

Amen

 

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