Once upon a time, there was a still slightly young man named Michael who didn’t like coffee. Instead of drinking a cup of coffee in the morning, he would accompany his eggs, sausage, and biscuits with a diet Coke. To him, coffee had a bitter taste; it did very little to wash down the food and provide any kind of refreshment.
Still, he liked the idea of coffee. He liked the thought of sitting on the porch with his wife on a lazy Saturday morning, both enjoying a steaming cup of liquid. And then one day, he decided that adults did indeed drink coffee in the morning, and so he started brewing cup after cup of coffee.
And he still hated the taste.
It took a while for me; I started with the idea of coffee, and drank my way into enjoying it. This, I believe, is what’s called an acquired taste. It’s something that you choose to partake in, even though you might not enjoy it immediately. Then over the course of time, as you actually take it in, your taste buds begin to change. That’s how it happened for me.
Many things in life work this way; some things we are pre-conditioned to enjoy and love; many other things we only grow to enjoy and love after we actually start doing them. It’s this way with many of the things of God.
Bible study? Prayer? Fasting? Solitude? These are the mechanisms by which we grow in our relationship with Jesus. And there are seasons of life in which we are excited by them, each and every time. But much of the time, these are acquired tastes. We grow to love them more the more time we actually spend doing them. Like the taste of vegetables to a child, we begin by participating in these spiritual disciplines because we know they are healthy, and then, over the course of time, we find that we have actually developed a taste for them.
If that’s true, then there are many implications for us. Here are three:
1. Don’t wait to start until you feel like it.
If we wait to start doing these things until we have a taste for them, then chances are we will never develop the kind of consistent habits that help us spiritually grow. We can’t wait to start until we want to start; we need to start now because we know it’s good for us.
2. Don’t stop when you feel like it.
Often, the times when we don’t feel like participating in these activities is probably the time in which we need to do so the very most. In the end, we can’t be governed by our tastes. When our tastes run contrary to what we know to be true, we must choose to live by faith which runs against what we see, or in this case, what we feel.
3. Let time be your ally.
Developing new tastes take time. Instead of being frustrated by the time it takes to grow and love these new habits, think of time as your ally. Remind yourself of the power of consistency. God is in this thing for the long-haul – because of the gospel of Jesus, we know He’s not going anywhere. Because we know He’s in it for good, we can stay in the fight.