“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”
I’ll be completely honest with you today. I had the hardest time coming up with something to say to you this afternoon. It wasn’t that there was a lack of ideas, in many ways it was the opposite. I see so much in this text, there is so much richness, in this one verse, that it’s been hard for me to find a way to narrow down and focus on one piece of it.
But as I sat and I stared at my computer for hours on end this past week I began to realize that maybe that was the whole point. God’s goodness can’t be summed up in one single idea, can it? God’s goodness goes deeper, it goes further, than anything we could ever imagine, and for that reason when we come together to talk about God’s goodness it takes on many different forms.
I mean think about that for just a moment, even in our own lives we know this to be the case, don’t we? We as individuals have experienced God’s goodness in numerous ways just ourselves.
I started thinking about that this week, and to be honest it was quite humbling to take some time and reflect on just how many different ways God’s goodness has touched and shaped my life. So just imagine how many different ways that goodness must be at work when you factor us all in together.
God’s goodness knows no bounds. God’s goodness knows no end. To the one who is hurting, God’s goodness looks like healing. To the one that is laboring in guilt, God’s goodness looks like forgiveness. To the one that feels unloved, God’s goodness looks like love. To the one that feels oppressed, God’s goodness looks like justice and mercy. To the one that thirsts, God’s goodness is like a spring bursting forth. To the one that hungers, God’s goodness is like manna from heaven.
I think that might be what the Psalmist is pointing to in this verse, this idea that God’s goodness can’t really be described for you because it can’t be narrowed down. God’s goodness can’t be formed or shaped into one single idea or argument because God’s goodness looks and feels differently to each of us. And this goodness, this goodness that comes as a gift from God, it always knows just what we need, when we need it.
So this brings me to a question this afternoon. I love questions. I think questions push us deeper into dialogue with ourselves, with one another, and most importantly with God. And so my question for us today is this: What am I, what are you, what are we craving?…What are you, craving? Or to put it another way, what does God’s goodness look like for you in this moment? What are you in need of? What is it that you need to taste?
Are you in need of forgiveness? Are you in need of mercy? Are you in need of feeling loved? Or, as is often times the case with me, do you even know what you are in need of?
I can’t answer this question for you today but there is one thing for sure that I can tell you, and that’s that no matter what it is that you are craving, no matter what it is that you might be in need of, God’s goodness can provide it.
So how then do we come to know this goodness? Well, let’s take a look at what the Psalmist writes. The Psalmist writes, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Notice what they don’t say. What they don’t say is, “See that the Lord is good.” But rather, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”
So why is this important? Well, it’s important, I think, because it means that in order to truly see we first have to taste. In order to know fully and completely, we first have to experience.
I’ve got this colleague of mine that likes to do this exercise every time she gets with a group. She takes a plate and she places this potato on it, and she puts it in the middle of the table. She then invites everyone to spend a few minutes jotting down what it is that they see. She asks them to describe it. She tells them to imagine what it feels like, and then she picks it up and she hands it to the first person in the group…Their mouths immediately drop open.
You see this potato that’s been in front of them for the last few minutes really isn’t a potato at all. It’s a rock that happens to look exactly like a potato. All those words that they’ve written down to describe what they thought was before them, they’re all wrong. Their assumptions are all wrong.
We can’t really get a complete picture of something until we are able to get our hands on it for ourselves, can we? We can’t know that this potato isn’t a potato until we pick it up and experience it for ourselves. Even those others in the group, they don’t believe it until they themselves get to take ahold of it.
Maybe this is a better example, one of the things that my wife and I like to do is to cook. Well, she likes to cook and I like to eat what she cooks so it ends up working on out for the both of us. But when she’s cooking there’s only so much of that meal that I can get a handle on. I mean I can watch what she’s doing. I can smell the aromas as she cooks, but until I sit down to eat I don’t really get the full experience. I can stand in the kitchen and see what’s happening, but until I take a bite I don’t know that dish completely.
Appearances often don’t give us the whole story, do they? Often our vision of something is incomplete. We might see it with our eyes, but until we really experience it, until we take it up for ourselves, we don’t know it in full.
And the same is true with God’s goodness, until we taste God’s goodness for ourselves, until we experience it in our lives, we can’t really know it in it’s complete form, can we?
We can’t know complete love until we know God’s love. We can’t know complete forgiveness until we’ve been forgiven by God. We can’t know complete freedom until the entirety of our sin has been removed.
It’s similar to the words that Paul writes in his first letter to the church in Corinth, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” It’s only when we experience God’s goodness for ourselves that we get the complete picture, it’s only when we taste, that we can then come to truly, and completely, see.
There’s something sort of invitational in this isn’t there? Again we look to the Psalmist’s words, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” That’s an invitation for us to experience God for ourselves. That’s an invitation for us to experience God in our own unique ways. And in many ways that’s what the season of Lent is really all about. It’s about coming to experience God in new and unique ways.
So this leads me to one final question for us this afternoon: What might God be calling you to experience this season? We’ve already asked what we think we might be in need of, what it is that we might be craving, but what do you think it is that God is wanting you to crave? What do you think it is that God might be calling you to taste and see, to experience in new and unique ways?
Maybe God is calling you this season to taste love like you’ve never experienced it before, a love that is beyond anything you could imagine? Maybe God is calling you this season to taste forgiveness in a way that frees you from the sins and guilts of the past? Maybe God is calling you to simply experience God’s own presence this Lent, to seek and find refuge in Him, in a way that calms your fears and expands your hopes?
Once again, this is a question that you’ll have to answer for yourself. I can’t answer it for you, but what I can tell you is that God’s goodness is abundant and it is overflowing. Just taste and see for yourself.
Our nation suffered yet another senseless mass murder yesterday, and to top it off it took place on Ash Wednesday when we are tasked with facing our own mortality and need for God. This morning I have been reading scripture and staring at my computer. I’ve been praying, and I’ve been wondering just what to say following yesterday’s events. I’ve been trying to craft together thoughts and words in a way that would help us to frame what took place. But I can’t. I can’t.
My wife is a much deeper theologian than I am. She always seems to have a handle on those things that I miss. I mentioned to her this morning that I was having trouble coming up with something to say and once again she set my perspective back straight. “That’s because violence makes no sense,” she said.
It doesn’t, does it? Violence doesn’t make any sense.
So a few rambling thoughts:
1) It is true that we live in a broken world, but that is not an excuse. It’s so easy for us to brush these things off by saying, “We are a fallen creation.” Or “evil exists.” Those things are all true, but that doesn’t mean we can use them as excuses to simply accept these circumstances as normal.
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells the crowds: “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” (Matthew 5:13)
I wonder sometimes about the church’s saltiness. I wonder sometimes about my own saltiness. When do “thoughts and prayers” turn into change and action?
2) There is no doubt in my mind that God weeps alongside of us today.
3) Despite all that has taken place, and despite the fact that we as a nation refuse to see the part that we play in these acts. I still believe in God’s love and redemption. I still believe that this world is God’s creation, and that this God is at work reconciling this creation back unto Himself. I still believe that we were created in God’s own image, and I still believe that God is at work attempting to restore us in this image.