“There is a difference between having an opinion, that God is holy a gracious, and having a sense of the loveliness and beauty of that holiness and grace. There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet, and having a sense of its sweetness.” (Jonathan Edwards, A Divine and Supernatural Light)
Sometimes I find myself—usually after a busy stretch—looking up and realizing that I have been more about the work of God and less about experiencing God himself. This is probably a challenge for everyone involved in ministry of some kind, whether they’re a pastor or a lay person. We see it when a well-intentioned faithful servant reveals a giant hole in their soul despite faithful and consistent service in the church. It’s easy to be about the things of the kingdom and miss the King!
Jonathan Edwards’ quote has always stuck with me. When it comes to God, I don’t just want to know “honey is sweet,” I want to “taste the honey.”
King David, at a difficult time in his life, penned these words in Psalm 34:
1 I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips. …
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
“Taste and see.” Don’t just talk about it or think about it. Experience it. Know it… truly, not just theoretically.
This isn’t limited to David. An unnamed psalmist expresses (Psalm 42:1-2):
1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
In all the busyness of life and ministry, in all the stresses of certain circumstances, God’s people over the centuries have managed to experience him—to taste the honey, not just know in their heads that it is sweet.
This is possible because God made us for this, and Jesus came to make it happen. On the night of his arrest, Jesus told his disciples, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3). He came so that we could be with him—to know him and experience his love and presence. But this isn’t just something for the next life. Even as we await that final day when we will see him face to face in that place he is preparing for us, Jesus explains that now—today—the Father and Son come to be with us—that we are the place that he dwells. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (v 19). He explains, “I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. … My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (vv 20, 23). He’s not talking about heaven at this point. He is talking about now, after his resurrection when he sends his Spirit at Pentecost. This is the heart of the Christian life. This is what it is all about.
We can—truly—taste and see that the Lord is good, because this is what God made us for, and Jesus came, not just to make it possible, but to make it happen.
Steve Sage is the Pastor of Discipleship.