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Friday, February 18, 2011

Weekly Snippet: A Strong Flavor We Crave

Here's an interesting thing I've noticed:  Wild food often has a stronger flavor than domesticated or farmed products.  I've sampled wild (native) pecans, which are much smaller and thicker-shelled, but they have a stronger, nuttier flavor than the domesticated "paper shell" varieties.  I've eaten wild persimmons, which are much, much sweeter than anything you can get off most grocery store shelves.  I've even had wild mushrooms, and they certainly didn't taste like the button mushrooms you get at the grocery store. Then there's the meat.  I've eaten wild duck, freshwater fish I caught myself, and mule deer sausage that a deacon's wife brought to a church dinner.  All of these were memorable experiences which outstripped farm-raised produce.  There's just no comparison between the flavor of the wild and the flavor of the farm-raised to a discerning palate.

One other thing I've noticed--it is increasingly rare for anyone to have eaten something "from the wild" in countries like the U.S.  Sure, we like to try unusual things these days, maybe even exotic produce and imports, but we are usually not adventurous enough, for legitimate and not-so-legitimate reasons, to try something "untamed."

What does this food talk have to do with Christianity?  Well, lately I've noticed that Christians, feeling that there was something somehow bland about their faith, have been seeking out the "exotic produce" of other theologies to try to spice up their table.  They look for interesting things to add to their religious practices, and struggle to spice it up with the salt of the presence of God because somehow, even the exotic tastes bland and unfulfilling.  What then?

I believe God has called us to return to the "wild" part of our relationship with Him.  It is true that there is more to this relationship than what we may be used to, but we don't have to look to other theology, popular catch phrases and books, or peer-approved beliefs to experience a deeper kind of faith.  Honestly, out of all the people I've known or read about, the people who were closest to God, and who knew the power of God, were the ones who spent the most time focusing exclusively on what God was telling them and teaching them through His word.  Their faith was not grown out of communal exercises or something exclusive to religious gurus and the people in their inner circles.  This personal faith may have begun from the teachings of others, but ultimately, it took root and grew in their hearts, and God instructed them. 

The fact is, you can live your life seeking God in groups and profiting from the spiritual lessons others have learned and passed on to you; however, if you're looking for adventure, you've got to step away from the "tamed" farm and orchard faith and into the "wild" territory with God.  There, His lessons come at a whirlwind pace, and revelations of His power in your life come so regularly that you never cease to be amazed by what is before you.  You can begin in church, but the majority of what you learn will be during the week, when you are walking (sometimes alone) with God, according to what He has taught you.

The faith I am describing is less exotic than it is just, well, real and powerful.  You can't develop that genuine spiritual taste by just adding spices--say, a peppier beat or a profoundly phrased line.  Like wild food, the wild experiences with God are not something you can imitate or extract.  Once you've tried it, you will know the difference between God's presence and anything else (see Genesis 27 as a side note).

The prophet Ezekiel had a vision in chapter 47 verses 1-12 of water flowing from the temple of God.  A heavenly being led him out into the water until it got so deep that he couldn't go on, because his feet would not touch the ground.  He'd have to swim.  This what the power of God is like for those who go out looking for it.  We start in "safe" shallow waters, where we think we are in control because we feel we can still rescue ourselves from the water if we feel uncomfortable.  Eventually, we get to the place where we either go on or turn back, but if we go on, we do so without this sense of control of our lives.  It's like that moment when we stop wading and start swimming, trusting ourselves to the power of the current.  Do we have that kind of faith that God will take care of us, even when we see we have no power to take care of ourselves?

The Bible says, "Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him," (Psalm 34: 8 NIV 2010).  I have come to believe from experience that even the metaphorical language in this verse has a literal truth in it.  Stepping out with God and entrusting ourselves to Him is a wild experience, more memorable than any meal we've eaten.  Still, the experience of trusting God and seeing Him make a way for us is like tasting something from the wild.  God's presence has a distinctive spiritual flavor, not literally discernible to human senses, but nevertheless, it is there and we can recognize it.  It is a strong taste, but once we know it, the bland should no longer satisfy--if it does, it is to our shame (see Hebrews 5: 12-16).

This is just food for thought.  Until next time, this is me reminding you to stay savvy, and seek after that strong spiritual taste, which is the power of God!


Kamal Singarapu said...

Rachel, thank you for your motivation.