|“How sweet are your words to my taste, |
sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
I can still hear my father’s admonition at the dinner table, “Chew your food!” I suppose I might have felt the urgent need to finish the meal in order to get back to playing with my sister, or riding my bike, or any dozens of other favorite pastimes I enjoyed as a child.
Some forty years later, I heard a pastor, on the verge of retirement, talking about the ways he needed to intensify the taste of God’s Word as he got older. He shared the premise that when our taste buds are young, we have a much more discriminating pallet even for mild flavors. He likened that to a child’s ability to remember new facts, songs, poetry, and Scripture with much more ease than an older person.
When this pastor was young, he told us, he enjoyed just about any flavor of jelly on his toast. But, when he got older, he needed stronger, more intense flavors to satisfy his taste. He said that in order to remember Scriptures like he did as a child, he needed more intense practices in his devotional life as an older Christian.
This pastor particularly enjoyed memorizing scripture. He urged his congregation to learn to appreciate God’s Word by intensifying the enjoyment of it through this practice. Memorizing passages from the Bible does indeed help cement the words of truth in one’s mind and heart.
Not only do we need more intense means to learn and remember Scripture as older adults, but we also need the practice of savoring what we read. Gulping down large portions of Bible books may bring some degree of growth. But, I believe that slowing down, savoring, and delighting in what we read intensifies our experience like nothing else can do.
How can we enjoy the Scriptures in this way? Certainly, we can memorize portions of it. We can also journal verses that God points out to us. We can paraphrase portions of Scripture that God is using to teach us. We can find hymns that capture the idea of certain Scripture readings. We can meditate over the images we read about.
All of these practices should have the effect of helping us say with the Psalmist in Psalm 34:8:
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Let us determine to learn to enjoy feeding on Scripture one bite at a time.And remember, “Don’t gulp your food!”