Taste the Love
If food was a love language, it would be mine. Growing up, one of my favorite traditions was picking my birthday dinner—I usually chose fried chicken or lasagna. Going out to eat was extremely rare in my family. Gifts were small. We didn’t have a lot of money, but my mother always made a cake with homemade buttercream icing. Birthdays felt very special at my house.
The holidays were marked by cookies: spritz, snickerdoodles, and chocolate chip. Mom made truffles and dipped peanut butter balls in melted chocolate (even before Reese’s peanut butter cups). At holiday mealtime, various dishes covered kitchen countertops and all the tables—turkey, cornbread dressing, her special English peas, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, and homemade pies (pecan and tart cherry). On top of the fridge, in the hot kitchen, yeast rolls sat rising, waiting for their turn in the oven.
Family gatherings always started with a veggie tray and some kind of dip—guacamole, queso dip, hummus. I still laugh at how, when we were dating, Scott would come to our house, ready to eat. His parents served holiday meals promptly at noon (I learned not to run late pretty quickly!). He expected a hot meal when he arrived. But instead, we grazed all day and helped mom get things together while we laughed and talked in the kitchen. We had dinner when it was ready. Good food felt like community.
When we moved away from family because of Scott’s military career, it was strange not to sit in that hot kitchen, munching on chips and dip or standing at the stove, stirring the English peas. So, we created our own traditions for the holidays and we started with the food—smoked turkey at Thanksgiving and ham at Christmas, my faux-tamale enchiladas for Christmas Eve (tamales are a Christmas Eve tradition we picked up in San Antonio). I learned to bake the pies and make my own version of Mom’s English peas.
It’s pretty universal. When we celebrate, we eat together. When we’re stressed, we eat alone (over the years, I’ve spent too many anxious minutes, hiding in the pantry). When we mourn, others bring comfort in the way of casseroles and desserts. We tend to associate food with comfort.
Taste the Good
In the Bible, God often teaches us through word pictures or metaphors, so we can better comprehend Him. The Hebrew language is different from ours. Their way of thinking is concrete, not abstract. Their words express objects you can touch, taste and see, or actions you can do. In Hebrew, words represent physical experiences. In English, we have many words that are abstract—they represent ideas that you see.
For instance, the Hebrew word Hesed is often translated as “steadfast love” or “lovingkindness” in our English Bibles. But loyalty and love are very abstract. Hebrew thinking would say,”What does steadfast love look like? How does it feel? Or taste?” Hesed is best understood as “deeds of devotion;” it is the convenant-keeping love-in-action that put Christ on the Cross to prove God’s devotion to His people. Hesed is not just something you feel…it is something you do.
In Psalm 34:8, we’re meant to taste and see — to experience and enjoy — God’s goodness, personally. The Hebrew meaning behind “taste” is to perceive or understand more fully, but our God is not an intellectual pursuit. To know Him, is to love Him.
The Lord is near. He’s the real deal. His pursuit of us and redemption of us is purposeful: God wants us to experience His goodness, firsthand…to know Him intimately. He wants us to taste His sweetness and see the beauty of His character; then those who enter into close relationship with Him can know [experience] joy by taking refuge in Him. God’s goodness is better than comfort food because there’s real refuge in Him.
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