A Taste for God

Jim Britt

Everyone is born with a hunger and thirst. The body craves nourishment. The newborn cries in the early hour for his feeding and the adult searches for another snack. We live in a time of diets and fast food. There is a multitude of books and lectures that make millions of dollars every year as counsel is given concerning what to eat and what to avoid eating.

We develop our taste for certain kinds of food as infants. There were foods we did not like, and we spit them out. It might be something we needed according to the pediatrician, but we did not like the taste of it. Our mothers engaged in a diet battle with us from the beginning.

There are certain foods we learn to like and others that we refuse to even taste. When George H.W Bush was President he confessed his dislike for broccoli. His brutal frankness won him a wagon load of brocolli from a broccoli farmer.

It is hard to describe what taste is. It is hard to describe the taste of a certain food. We might say that it tastes like something with which the person we are endeavoring to tell is familiar. When we are unable to really succeed in describing the taste, we finally say, "Just taste it for yourself."

There are imitation flavors. They taste like the real thing without being the real thing. Even with them there is a difference in taste. Some taste more like the real thing than others. They are called substitutes.

Everyone is born with a taste for God. There is within the human spirit a hunger and thirst for something beyond the temporal. Many things are tasted in the quest to satisfy the deep hunger and thirst. Years are spent, even far too many, tasting the things of the world. It is what Pascal called "licking the earth.
We are born into the world with an elusive search for a relationship. We have a taste for something but cannot quite identify what it is. It is a taste from beyond the realm of time and yet we seek to satisfy the taste with experiences which are temporal. C. S. Lewis tells us about the desire which cannot be fully satisfied in this realm which means there must be something beyond. It is something for which we have been created. In contrast to men of all times Moses is described as one who chose "to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season...

"(Heb.11:25). There is pleasure in sin but it is short lived. It is like a season. It waxes and wanes with the fading of beauty and in the brevity of time, like Lord Byron, "life is in the yellow leaf." The taste is not as pleasurable as it once was. The cup of pleasure is drained and there is nothing left of life. But among spiritual paupers no one is willing to confess the emptiness of the soul which nothing of this world has satisfied.
The woman at the well could not assuage her thirst for a relationship. She had tried marriage five times and in frustration decided to forget the ceremony and just live with a man. Jesus told her of the water he offered her was different from the water of the well at Sychar: "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again. But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be to him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (Jn.4:13, 14)

The psalmist invites, "O taste and see how good the Lord is; blessed is the man that trusteth in him" (Ps. 34:8). Perhaps the writer was referring to a delicious meal which he saw as the manifestation of the grace of God. It might have been a commemoration of the Passover when Israel to this day is reminded of the freedom which the Lord gave them 3000 years ago, and they have had to fight for generations to preserve that freedom. Whatever it was the invitation was to taste it for it represented God and his goodness.

There are those who often say in the presence of tragedy or taking note of the suffering in the world, "If God is a good God, then why all the suffering?" Such people have never tasted the Lord. They stand back and are critical of the One whom they have never met. They are like people who have never tasted a certain dish and declare, "I just think I will not like it." Some might even say, "My mother never fixed it for us to eat."

God cannot be known until he is tasted. His goodness is impossible to describe. He must be trusted. "For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endures to all generations"(Ps. 100:5).

Once the Lord's goodness is tasted then the desire which has-been caught in the pursuit of the temporal is set free to want more of him who satisfies forever. The desire for the eternal displaces the pursuit for the temporal. Lives continue to be changed by the taste of God's goodness. "Or despiseth thou the riches of his goodness and forebearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance"(Ro. 2:4).
"Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled" (Mt.5:10).