Selah: Day 3
Taste and See
Find a nearby window that offers you a view of God’s creation. As you enjoy the beauty, let your heart fill with gratitude and wonder, knowing you are preparing to spend time with the One who created all of it!
“Lord, teach me to listen. The times are noisy and my ears are weary with the thousand raucous sounds which continuously assault them. Give me the spirit of the boy Samuel when he said to Thee, ‘Speak, for thy servant heareth.’ Let me hear Thee speaking in my heart. Let me get used to the sound of Thy voice, that its tones may be familiar when the sounds of earth die away and the only sound will be the music of Thy speaking voice. Amen.” —A.W. Tozer 1
Many of us are used to approaching God in ways that feel familiar and routine: Bible reading and study, worship music, Christian books, and devotionals. But if every common bush is afire with God, how many more ways can we experience Him if only we take the time to look?
Reflect and Ponder
Perhaps you’ve heard these verses penned by Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.2
In his book, Windows of the Soul, Ken Gire writes:
How many times have we sat around plucking blackberries, thinking blackberries were all that was there? How many times have we failed to see the heavenly blaze in the earthly bushes we brush by every day on our way to somewhere else?
A story is told of a pagan who asked a rabbi, “Why did God speak to Moses from the thornbush?” For the pagan thought God should have spoken instead in a peal of thunder on the peak of some majestic mountain. The rabbi answered, “To teach you that there is no place on earth where God’s glory is not, not even in a humble thornbush.”
These moments where earth is crammed with heaven, these Bethlehem moments where something divine is birthed through very human wombs, will go unnoticed unless we realize the meek and unassuming way that God characteristically comes.3
Today, the main goal of this Reflection is active participation. A variety of options will be offered to you which are designed to give you a chance to experience God in fresh ways. Some of these may be comfortable for you, some less so. Step outside the norm and try something new! Try choosing a couple of these activities and see what emerges in you. Take time to ask the Lord which activities might draw you closer to Him.
Let’s not sit around and pluck blackberries. Let’s use our hearts and our five senses to explore the intricacy and beauty of God in new ways.
Jump on in!
Personalize a Psalm.
Try paraphrasing a favorite Psalm. Here are several suggestions: Psalm 9, 16, 28, and 32. Read and meditate on the Psalm. Internalize it and let it speak to your life today. Then write it out, and pour your heart out to the Lord just as David did, making it personal to your current life circumstances. See what emerges in your heart as you do this.
Using Our Sense of Hearing
Listen in on Dinner Conversations.
We can hear God by listening to others as they share their own experiences with God. Today, as you share a meal with your family, ask “heart” questions that will lead to below-the-surface discussion. Try asking them about what this Selah has been like for them, if or how they have heard from the Lord—and then listen for ways God might be speaking or revealing His heart to you through their experiences. Listen with empathy and curiosity, and perhaps limit your own words to ensure you are truly hearing.
Worship to Music Which isn’t Considered “Worship Music”
It’s often easy to exalt the Lord when listening to worship music that speaks directly about the Lord. But we can also worship through music that isn’t necessarily considered “Christian.” God’s beauty and truth can be revealed in the most unexpected places!
Choose one or more of the songs below and see what arises in you as you listen. Let it move you to worship through its beauty, lyrics, honesty, powerful beat, etc. Try listening to a genre you wouldn’t normally listen to.
- Pie Jesu by John Rutter, Choir of King’s College, Cambridge (classical choral)
- The River Cam by Eric Whitacre, London Symphony Orchestra, Julian Lloyd Webber (symphonic instrumental)
- 40 (How Long) by U2 (rock)
- Unpack Your Heart by Phillip Phillips (pop-rock or folk-rock)
- One by Sleeping At Last (alt/indie)
- Hopeless Wanderer by Mumford and Sons (folk-rock)
- Africa by Marcus Warner (contemporary instrumental scores)
Using our Sense of Sight
Examine Nature in Detail.
Take a walk and find a couple of items in nature (bark, leaves, rocks). Spend a full three minutes examining these items closely. Notice as much intricacy as you can. What does this reveal about God to you?
You can also recruit your sense of sound and smell by paying attention to what you hear as you walk as well as the fragrances in the items you examine.
Reframe your Lens.
Sometimes we’ve lived in our homes, neighborhoods, and surroundings for so long we stop truly seeing. This can also be true in our relationship with God. His Word and message can become commonplace, and we stop seeing the wonder and newness in His story. Our views can be limited and need to be expanded. Sometimes we need to see His message “sideways,” or through a different lens.
Take a camera outside, or your phone if it has a camera feature, and find a subject or two you would like to photograph. Try taking pictures from a variety of angles, up close and far away, from the side or the top rather than the front. Play with different tones and filters. Take photos from far away and up close. Then look at your photos when you have finished. You will experience the impact more if you upload them to your computer to enlarge the size. What do you notice about your subject that you don’t normally notice in everyday life?
Now ask yourself these questions:
- What have I noticed about God’s creation that I didn’t notice before? Does that help me worship Him in new ways?
- Where have I seen God at work in the things that have gone wrong or right in my life or others’ lives recently?
- How has God been at work in the ordinary activities and experiences of my life?
- Where do I need to take time to reframe and/or refocus the way I view God’s interactions with me or others?4
Using Our Sense of Taste
What Do You Crave?
Consider these verses in 1 Peter 2:2–3 (NIV): “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him . . .”
The definition of craving is “a powerful desire for something.”5 Ask yourself whether you have a powerful craving for the Living Stone, the source of life. While some translate “pure spiritual milk” as being Scripture, the text indicates that it’s far broader than this. One version expresses it as “God’s pure kindness,”6 everything that encompasses the message of the heart of God as revealed in Jesus, The Word of God.
Identify a food you normally crave, one which you have on hand.
- Take a bite of the food, slowly and intentionally. What is the flavor and texture? Where in your mouth do you find that the taste resides once you have swallowed? What do you like about the taste?
- Take another bite. Think about when you crave this food the most. What time of day? Is there a particular emotional state you are in when you crave it?
- How have you conditioned yourself to continue craving it? Do you find that you sometimes use this food to comfort yourself when you are sad or angry?
- Now think of craving as a spiritual metaphor. If you could name what you crave right now in your relationship with God, what would it be?
- Tish Harrison Warren says, “Christians have often practiced self-denial in order to learn to enjoy good things in their proper place.”7 Is there a spiritual discipline that might help increase your craving for God?8
Watch Babbette’s Feast.
A foreign film with subtitles, this beautiful, slow-moving Danish film is based on a short story by Isak Dinesen that shows how a village is transformed by the extravagant grace of one unforgettable act. The final scene, which depicts a lavish feast, will most likely stick in your memory for a long time to come. Even if you’re not a fan of subtitles, this movie is worth the work. You can rent it on Amazon Prime, iTunes, and AppleTV.
After you watch the movie, internalize and celebrate the theme of grace by enjoying a special meal or dessert.
Feast Using Your Imagination.
Feast on this poem . . . such beautiful imagery!
LOVE bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack’d anything.
“A guest,” I answer’d, “worthy to be here:”
Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on Thee.”
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I?”
“Truth, Lord; but I have marr’d them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “Who bore the blame?”
“My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my my meat.”
So I did sit and eat.
—George Herbert 9
Using Our Sense of Touch
Build an Altar of Stones.
Our God is a God who is making all things new through Jesus Christ (Revelation 21:5), who makes all things beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11), and who never stops making us in His image (1 Thessalonians 5:23–24).
Sometimes we see the victories and we feel thankful for the ways God has worked in our lives.
Sometimes we feel like there is a lot of rubble in our lives. There are places where we sense we have failed or where it feels like God has failed us, or maybe we are just struggling with painful things.
Consider these words from Richard Rohr: “What would happen in your life—right now—if you accepted what God has created and even allowed? Suddenly, this is a very safe universe. You have nothing to be afraid of. God is for you. God is leaping toward you! God is on your side, honestly more than you are on your own.”10
Go outside and gather 8–12 small or medium-sized stones. Take time to feel the stones. Do they all feel the same or do some feel different? Are they smooth or rough, cool or warm? You can observe the color as well and whether there are markings on the stones. Let these stones represent both the places where you have seen the Lord work and the painful places where you have yet to see Him bring beauty from the pain.
Build an altar or “cairn” from the stones, taking time to talk to the Lord about these stones and what they represent in your life. If you can, build it in a place where you can see it in the coming days to remind you of the ways God rebuilds and redeems.
Using Our Sense of Smell
Discover the Power of Fragrance.
Ephesians 5:1–2 (NLT) says, “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”
Jesus’ sacrifice smelled beautiful to His Father. Many verses in the Old Testament which refer to the Israelites’ sacrifices describe them as a fragrant aroma to God. Aromas and smells have meaning in both the spiritual and physical realm. Science has revealed in the last few years that the human nose can detect one trillion odors! 11
Studies have shown that people can remember a scent with 65% accuracy after one year while visual memory drops to 50% after only a few months. Smell is also connected with our emotions. “The part of the brain that smells and tastes is part of the emotional brain where our personality lies,” states Dr. Hirsch in an interview with Men’s Health.12
We can use our sense of smell to help us connect in a tangible, experiential way with Jesus’ love for us. Find an item in your home that has a pleasing scent—flowers, a candle, a favorite food, a beauty item, essential oils. Sit somewhere comfortable and perhaps put on some beautiful music if you’d like to use more than one sense in this activity—it may produce double the benefits! Take 2–3 minutes to smell the object as you consider Jesus’ sacrifice of love for you. Take deep breaths and give yourself time to associate both the feelings of being loved and the truth of the message with the fragrance. This may feel outside the box to you—good for you for trying something new!
If you want to make this “stick,” take the next week and repeat this exercise each day. Help your body associate the beautiful fragrance with Jesus’ love—as well as His call for us to love others.
In the future, you might consider incorporating some “active participation” exercises regularly in your times with the Lord. Let’s keep our eyes open for the common bushes afire with God as we walk through the days and weeks ahead.
“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:17–19 (NLT)
In Jesus’ name, believe the gospel!
1 From The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
2 From Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
3 From Windows of the Soul, page 44 by Ken Gire
4 Idea is taken from Awaken Your Senses by J. Brent Bill and Beth A. Booram
5 Oxford English Dictionary
6 1 Peter 2:2, from The Message
7 Tish Harrison Warren from Prayer in the Night, page 133
8 Idea and some text is taken from Awaken Your Senses by J. Brent Bill and Beth A. Booram
9 Love (III) by George Herbert, 1593-1633
10 From The Divine Dance by Richard Rohr
11 From ScienceMag, Human Nose Can Detect One Trillion Smells, https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2014/03/human-nose-can-detect-trillion-smells
12 From Ambius.com, 6 Ways Your Sense of Smell Influences Your Everyday Life, https://www.ambius.com/blog/5-ways-smell-influences-your-everyday-life/