Let’s face it – we don’t know how to chew well. We live in a big gulp society where fast food is the norm. Get it and go! The quicker the better!
But taking time to really chew is about tasting, savoring and digesting. When it comes to God’s Word is this ever vital!
In Psalm 34:8 we’re encouraged to “taste and see that the Lord is good!” That doesn’t mean taking a tiny bite but to really taste and let the flavor soak in. There’s a difference between a two year old tasting a new food dubiously to see if she likes it and an epicure tasting to savor rich flavors, to reap full benefit, enjoying each bite.
It’s like the difference between downing shots at a bar and a wine tasting party where you go slow, first observing the color, then inhaling the aroma, finally swishing a small bit around your tongue so you fully experience all the wine has to offer. As your senses are fully engaged, the subtle nuances are savored and experienced.
When it comes to God’s Word are you more like a fast foodie or an epicure? More like a beer guzzler or a wine connoisseur?
It’s so vital we learn to savor, chew, taste… to slow down when ingesting God’s Word.
For example, it’s easy to look at a list of God’s attributes and say, “Yep! That’s who He is.” But if you focus on one and camp out there, starting with the obvious, “Omniscience – God knows everything,” then considering what that means in your every day life, “before a word is on my tongue God knows what I’m going to say – whether good or bad. When he gives me an opportunity to share with someone about Him, He already knows what I’m going to say and He’s still chosen me to do this!” what a difference it can make to truly grasp this as you prepare to tell someone about Him!
Or “God knows everything I do – even all I’m going to do… or not do. Because of this I can never disappoint Him. To disappoint is to expect more, then be let down ~ because God is omniscient that never happens!”
Or to contemplate, “God knows all about me – how many hairs are on my head, what’s weighing on my heart, and He is carrying my griefs and bearing my sorrows – and not just mine but those of every person in the entire world!” Then get specific ~ apply that to everyone in your family… and in your neighborhood… in your city, state, country, world! It’s amazing how BIG the Lord gets when you do this and how that can help your problems seem so much smaller in comparison. Jesus isn’t just your “homeboy!” He is incredible!!!
Beyond experiencing wonder and delight, chewing is also important for digestion. Know how corn sometimes passes right through? It can only do that when it’s not chewed!
In the same way, without chewing, these truths about who God is, often pass right through without really impacting your life. But if you do take time for this get ready to be amazed – especially at the peace and joy that come.
The hard part of chewing for me? It takes time.
We live in a fast paced society so this is counter-cultural. That’s one reason we’re told in Romans 12:1-2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Note it’s not “be transformed by reading God’s Word” – but as your mind is renewed, changed, impacted by God’s Word taking effect inside you, transformation occurs. You have to take time to process what you’re hearing and reading or it’s in one ear and out the other!
I still find I’m needing to learn to take time to chew on God’s Word. This does not come naturally! And it’s critical I help those I meet with start learning to do this too. But again, just “telling” isn’t enough.
One way to help someone practically grow in this is to challenge them to come up with an “Alphabet of God’s Attributes” – to think up one key attribute of who the Lord is for each letter (eg., A = Available, B= Beautiful, C= Caring… and yes you may need to get creative for some of the letters! :0). Then encourage them to take one a day and spend time chewing on this. Make it a goal to fill a whole page with thoughts on each attribute. Since I’m an external processer I find it helps so much to write down my thoughts as I do this.
In the beginning those thoughts usually aren’t spectacular. I start with the obvious. But as I keep chewing on this, it’s surprising the new thoughts and life applications that surface.
Don’t do this with someone until you’ve done it yourself and found it helpful!!! But if you do, can it ever help launch them in learning the fine art of spiritual chewing… and being well nourished for life!