"Taste and see that the LORD is good"
I'm learning to make my own salad dressings these days. Fresh, simple ingredients--olive oil, balsamic vinegar, crushed garlic, Dijon mustard, honey, shallots, etc--are easy to come by, inexpensive, and far tastier than the stuff at the store. These natural flavors are transforming my palate and I'm losing my desire for commercial dressings. It's a change of taste.
Coffee, of course, is another area where taste and freshness, proper measurement and natural ingredients create a flavor that most cafes can't challenge. Once you get used to one of my cappuccinos, you'll think twice about visiting that big coffee chain!
It takes a while to train our palates, doesn't it? It's quicker and easier, we think, to go for the store-bought stuff, or whip through the drive-thru. But we compromise ourselves. Too often, efficiency trumps enjoyment. Maybe we need to slow down. Go old-school for a while. Take our time.
It's that way with God. Too often we're satisfied with God-substitutes. Quick fixes, God-on-our-own terms, God-in-our-own-image. Our God becomes too much like the drive thru: a faceless presence into which we speak our order and expect our outcome--lickety-split.
How, then, do we retrain our palates? How do we develop our taste for God? A couple thoughts come to mind, things which this preacher's trying to practice:
Get out in nature. Go for a walk. Observe flowers, trees, clouds, birds, mountains. Let the slower rhythms recalibrate your rushed spirit. Savor. Give thanks.
Eat healthier...and more slowly. Enjoy the bounty before you. I tend to do that with steel cut oatmeal. Making it and eating it slows me down. Knowing that it's lowering my cholesterol naturally makes me grateful. Spend a little more for quality, local ingredients.
Meditate. Take a brief section of Scripture and read it slowly, several times. This morning I found Romans 8:26 wonderful: "The Spirit helps us in our weakness." Allow the import of the passage to sink in to your soul. Too often we think quantity (a book or chapter of the Bible) is better than quality. Go brief but deep for a season.
Fast. This is something I find personally difficult and often elusive. But nothing gives us more of an appreciation for God's good gifts than temporarily forsaking them. Give up a meal or dessert or TV for a night and see what happens, what it does for you.
Be patient. Changing our palates takes time. What do they say--it takes several weeks to form new habits? (Somewhere I heard that Lent's 40 days are perfect to teach us new patterns, but why wait 'til then?). Good stuff takes time--in the kitchen, on our plates, in our lives.
I'll bet that once we develop a taste for the genuine article, the old things won't satisfy nearly as much.