Woodshed Wisdom
By Freeman Martin

What’s your earliest recollection of taste? When you put something in your mouth and you knew immediately that it was either very, very wonderful. Or it was the most horrible, spew-it-out-of-your-mouth experience you’ve ever encountered.

For me, it occurred very early in life back home on the farm. And it wasn’t the sweetness of ice cold watermelons cooling in Johnson’s branch all day. Or fresh maters and taters straight out of the garden. Or Mother’s hot, buttered biscuits with a sweet cantaloupe that I had grown personally.

No, those tastes are numerous and would come later and forever be stored in the hard drive of my memory bank. To be called up at will and enjoyed over and over all my life whenever I wanted to ‘savor the flavor.’ Want proof? OK, don’t raise your hands, but how many times have you said, “I can just taste it now?”

But in another folder in my mental memory is a taste that also won’t soon be forgotten, and, hopefully, never experienced again. It’s the memory of being tricked by my older brothers into eatin’ a green persimmon. “Come on, just taste it,” they said, “You’ll be amazed by the flavor.”

And in a perverse kind of way, they were telling the truth.
If you’ve ever tasted a green persimmon, maybe you’ve been fortunate not to think about it for a long time. But the minute you read this, the memory of that taste will turn your mouth wrongside out all over again.

This is just me, but I believe that when God was putting us together and wiring us up and ‘breathin’ the breath of life into our nostrils,’ He put those tiny little thing-a-majigs in our mouths called taste buds. And for good reason.

Just try to imagine life without your taste buds. How in the world would you be able to tell the difference between boiled okra (gag-gag-gag) and coconut cake? Case in point. Ralph Nix, my boyhood buddy and lifelong friend, gets real spiritual when he hears the words ‘boiled okra.’ According to the gospel of Ralph, when it comes to okra, “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Can I get an Amen?

Need further evidence of the power of taste buds? OK, without ‘em, you might just swallow a big bowl of turnip greens thinking it was homemade peach ice cream. Get my point? And for you doubting Thomas’s out there, I have a wheelbarrow load of evidence.

Without taste buds, how would you know if you’re eatin’ chopped liver or hot, buttered cornbread? Pickled pigs feet or cathead biscuits after they’re drowned in sawmill gravy?

Not convinced yet? Without taste buds, you could be gulping down a big swig of cod liver oil, thinking it was sweet ice tea. Or maybe you’re puttin’ down a mess of sardines, thinking it was sweet potato cobbler with a topping of criss-crossed brown dough with sugar on top.

In short, those God-given taste buds allow us to taste something absolutely wonderful, or taste something absolutely putrid, and the ability to know the difference. As my mill-hill bride said last night when I added a different ingredient on her tossed salad, “Something just doesn’t taste right.” And just to make her point, she added, “oooh, this stuff tastes awful.” Her taste buds were working overtime.

Why, you’re asking, has this guy’s mind run off in the ditch beside that dirt road and got stuck on taste? Well, here’s why. First of all, the Holy Spirit said, “Talk about your taste buds.” And I’ve obeyed quite well, haven’t I? And secondly, maybe, just maybe, you’ve tasted some of the world’s green persimmons, thinking that you were supposed to be enjoying grits and red-eye gravy.

OK, class, I see those hands. Application to daily living coming right up. Have you ever been disappointed by someone after believin’ they would be a true friend? Ever been the subject of slander or malicious gossip? Been looking for mouth-waterin’ satisfaction in worldly power, prestige, or position?

Maybe you’ve plowed through the fields of many different jobs, come to the end of that row, and thought, “how did I wind up with such a bad taste in my mouth?” Or could it be that you’ve tasted ‘comparison-itis?’ Looking at your neighbor’s garden, and wondering why you haven’t been blessed with delicious sweet corn and pole beans like he has.

Friends, we need to look no further than the shepherd boy turned psalmist. David was a man after God’s own heart. He even wrote that great twenty-third Psalm that we know and love. But he also knew his share of troubles and trials that he just couldn’t swallow.

Before you go to sleep tonight, please read Psalm 34:1-8. David wrote this while pretending to be insane. I personally think the man’s mind was perfect when he penned these words. I want to dig down real deep right here and plant a flag in verse 8. Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.

Like my brothers told me, “Just taste and you’ll be amazed.” God gave us those taste buds for a reason – to savor the flavor of what we taste in life. Some things are like those green persimmons – a bitter pill to swallow and best if never tasted again.

And then there are things we taste and enjoy when we put our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Like good friends, sunsets, sunrises, full moons, new-born babies, a grand-mother’s kiss, being fed till we’re full from God’s plate – His Holy Word, just to mention a few.

Once we taste His goodness, we’ll be as happy as a squirrel under a hickory nut tree.