I knew a speaker that always used this analogy, he said something like this “You can tell me how great Ice Cream is and I may or may not believe you. But once I get the cone and that cold, creamy, sweet delicious flavor is savored in my mouth, only then can my experience give me the revelation of what your description so pitifully tried to convey.” In the same manner, I may tell you ice cream is wonderful but if you happen to get a flavor that creates a horrendous experience for you, you may never find yourself a fan of ice cream.
So much can go into creating the experience of taste. Restaurant owners and chefs go to great lengths to create the right atmosphere. They spend a massive amount of hours and money finding the right music, the right furniture and the right decor to sway the customer before he even has the chance to see a menu. Every effort is made so he will be receptive to the experience of the flavors that have been carefully prepared by the chef. However, the true flavor that pleases the masses does not necessarily require such an introduction or even great planning.
These last few years, I have driven down 38th street and each time there is a line of people waiting to order a meal from this little tin can of a mobile lunch truck covered in cheap cardboard signs that have the current mexican dish special. This place has no comfortable seating area and looks like it needs a date with some disinfectant. My mind is screaming “Food poisoning alert!” but in spite of it’s appearance, the word got around that this little roach coach serves the best mexican food in town. I don’t think I will ever be brave enough to overcome my doubt because my past experience with food poisoning has kept me away.
About four years ago, I visited a Red Robin in Federal Way, Washington. It’s about 20 miles south of Seattle and about 10 miles north of Tacoma. I went with friends and I was especially hungry because I had foolishly not eaten all day. I ordered my meal and ate it with much relish and satisfaction. Nothing tasted wrong. My friends were with me, the atmosphere was inviting and we all had a good time. I left happy and sated. Every part of my experience seemed right but three hours later, I felt the first pangs in my stomach as it distended and churned with whatever foreign entity was inside causing a revolution in my body. Over the next twelve hours, I would pray, with much passion, through the pain, the nausea, the vomiting and the frequent bowel movements. In my mind, I wanted to curse the careless, filthy chef or food handler that gave me this special present with my meal. I eventually ended up in the emergency room. I finally received some relief with a prescription of anti-nausea medication and ground flax seed to absorb whatever toxin was in my body. This was an experience I would never want to repeat.
For some reason, I used my experience to judge the little tin mobile van that serves mexican food. No matter how long the line is or how many people tell me this is the place to get the best tacos, I am not convinced. Each time I drive down 38th, my husband salivates but I look down my nose at the tin coach surrounded by devoted fans with disdain and horror. I may never taste the best tacos in our town… or even in the world. I just can’t get past it, even though I know I am probably judging them unfairly by my past experience with food poisoning.
When I was young, I belonged to a church that presented God as a vengeful, overbearing dictator. The leadership did not convey tolerance, empathy or love. It did not provide an appropriate introduction of Christianity. Nor did it create a bridge of reconciliation between God and Man. Instead, I received a cold, impossible religion where I had no place, no voice, no vision, and no purpose. Maybe the adults there had a different experience but for most of the children, our experience was not balanced. Our child-like faith was stolen.
My parents did not stay at this church and I was able to have a different experience with Christianity. Although, we still belonged to some strict churches, it was balanced by a deep love and acceptance even for those who fell short of perfection. Somehow, my parents were able to show me a different “taste” of God. Oh, how I mourn for those who left and never “tasted” or knew the God I now know. Later, as I studied I was so astounded that many christians follow the erroneous path of living like they were born as a slave of obedience instead of a son (heir) of promise (Galatians chapters 3 & 4).
I always say I was lucky in love. I found the God who loves unconditionally. Those who take the risk of building a relationship need never fear. As your passion for Him grows, His passion for you grows. I can’t get Him out of my mind. I am obsessed with His kindness. His compassion and His love. I feel drunk from His overwhelming acceptance and indulgence. My greatest fear is that I’ll wake up and it is a dream. He forgives me daily for my shortcomings because he is the perfect lover and I am a bumbling fool. He is my teacher, my friend, my confidante, my obsession, my possession, my gift, and my destiny. Life has no purpose without Him and true hell is the possibilty of an eternity without Him. Like Solomon wrote, I am sick with love. It’s like I’m sated but I can’t leave for fear of hunger. I cling to Him like a young wife clings to her husband as he tries to extricate himself to show up for his job but He is the husband that never leaves, yet I cling to Him anyway. I have never seen Him but He holds me and caresses my spirit with hands that are forever soothing away my angst. I am selfish but this passion for Him drives me to be a better person, a better daughter a better parent and a better wife. He is my first love and He will never betray me. He gave me a husband who reflects His passion for me. Oh what a generous entity! How He makes my life perfect! I sometimes question whether my world is colored with rose glasses and I remember it’s beautiful because He is my world.
David wrote “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8)” I cannot tell you enough about this passion of my heart but my words mean nothing. You will never know. You must have your own experience but that can only happen when you have the true revelation of taste.