Wednesday, February 16, 2011
A Matter of Taste: Part Two
Psalm 34 contains an oft quoted verse that goes like this, "Taste and see that the Lord is good" (verse 8). A lot of people do "taste" the Lord. They commit their lives to Him. They pray. They go to church. Many of these people do, in fact, discover that the Lord is good. However, I know that many people taste God and find Him unpalatable. I'm not going to try and figure out why some people taste God for the first time and discover that it is good, while others taste him and find the opposite. I also don't think I could explain why some people are born loving scrambled eggs and others aren't. It's just a matter of, well, taste. What I AM going to attempt to discuss is whether, if we don't have a "taste" for God, we can develop one.
But first, excuse me while I digress into this story. I promise that it ties in....eventually.
A couple of months ago, we took Caroline (who was 4 months old) into the doctor for a regular check up. At this appointment, doctors usually go over how to introduce your baby to solid food because this is about the time in which babies start to try solids. This doctor explained which foods to try and he told us the preferred order and all the reasons behind it. But the most important thing he said was something that I kept going back to for days because it was something that I've never heard before. He kept insisting that the reason why babies are introduced to solids at 4-6 months of age is not because they need the calories. Solids don't actually contain as many calories as breast milk or formula, but we tend to think that because the babies are getting bigger, they need solids to feel more full, keep growing, etc. Apparently, this is not the case.
So, you ask, why even bother giving babies this age solids? Good question. According to our doctor, it is to help the baby develop a sense of fondness for different flavors and textures. He actually told us to introduce solids in this way: Pick a food to begin with (say, squash). Give the baby the squash on day one. Continue giving the baby squash for 3 or 4 days. If, after 4 days or so, the baby loves squash (as evidenced by panting, drooling all over the spoon, and shoving every last bit into her mouth like our well-mannered child does) then move on to the next food. HOWEVER, if the baby does not like squash by day 4 (as evidenced by gagging, turning away, pursing lips, etc.), CONTINUE GIVING THE BABY SQUASH, AND ONLY SQUASH, UNTIL SHE LEARNS TO LIKE IT. I think that the doctor even said something about only giving the baby squash until her wedding day if it takes her that long to develop a taste for it. Hopefully we won't have that problem.
His point? Our tastes are highly impressionable. Sure, they begin one way, but that is not how they have to remain. Our tastes for foods, like our tastes for other things, can be developed. They can be changed. Improved. Refined.
This story tells us something more. Something that we are already well aware of in terms of our human nature. Nowhere on this list of "foods to introduce" does it mention candy, chocolate, or sugar of any kind. Why? Well, a few reasons. First of all, these foods are obviously not healthy, so why give them to a baby? But, I would contend that people do not generally need to develop a taste for the sugary things. Whereas children may not grow to love carrots, they will most likely love cocoa puffs right off the bat. It's kind of like how we have a natural taste for a lot of other things that aren't so good for us. No need to develop those tastes! Our sinful nature has that taken care of.
Okay, back to the point. I think that, if when we "taste" God, as the Psalmist says, but do not discover that He is good, there are ways to change our tastes. It is not that God is not good. No matter what we think, God is always the same, and He is always good. It is US. It is that we just don't have the taste buds that like God's "flavor".
What are some of these ways to improve our tastes, or our affection, for God? Whether we once had it and then lost it, or whether we never feel like we had it to begin with, there is nothing more crucial to our faith than having this affection for God. That will be fodder for post #3 on this subject. If you have thoughts you'd like to share, by golly, I'd love to hear them!