Our family loves to eat salmon. Whenever we go to Sam's Club, my 6-year old asks us to buy the big package of fresh salmon. I know it's farm-raised and doesn't compare to fresh salmon from Alaska – I can say that from personal experience because I had the blessing of living and working and eating in Anchorage right after college. However, I'm grateful that she craves this healthy protein. It's one meal I know will be nutritious and welcomed by my little people (which is gold for mamas in the trenches with littles that have particular tastes).
But my youngest (15-months old) did not share in the delight of this meal. It caught me off guard the first time she refused to eat it. I was two for two with kids and this particular dish – what was going on? I offered it to her again the next time we had it, and she refused. Naturally, I found myself saying, "She's never going to like salmon." But because this is a favorite dish in our home and has a permanent spot in our meal rotations, I found myself offering it to her – again and again and again.
After about the 5th or 6th time, I was shocked to find that my youngest started to eat it. She even seemed to enjoy it! This affirmed the numerous results published by scientific articles that showed a positive correlation between exposure to healthy foods and enjoyment. According to research, most children will report liking a food they previously disliked if they are offered it consistently 7+ times. Sometimes, it requires introducing a new food 12-13 times before a toddler will appreciate it!
This goes to show that our taste buds can be trained. Our cravings can be cultivated. I've heard countless testimonies of people who grew up on fast-food hamburgers adjust to whole-food diets with some grit and accountability. It can be done! And isn't that the same for our spiritual diets? There is only so much our hearts and minds can consume. We are reading and ingesting much more content than we realize in a single day – the news; Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook; magazines; good literature and pleasure reads. Many of these social outlets fill us with trivial knowledge and require us to engage, which takes our time. But before long, we find that our eyes, minds, and hearts have developed an intense craving for this knowledge and input. The metaphorical taste buds of our hearts and minds prefer it!
We see this clearly in our approach to the Word of God. Many of us feel pinched for time to get in the Word. When we do pause in our days to read Scripture, we feel unengaged. Five minutes can feel like an eternity. We find that our hearts crave a different influx of information. Time in the Word seems lifeless because it lacks "likes" and affirming feedback from others. But really, it's because our spiritual taste buds are more easily satisfied by "junk" like trivial information provided by social media.
So what do we do?
First, we have to adjust our perspectives. Many of us live our days as if they will continue forever, which is evidenced by our lack of urgency in things that really matter. We can't forget the truth that "man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow" (Psalm 144:4). Instead, the Word of the Lord is what remains forever (1 Peter 1:25). The eternal promises of God are life giving for here and now and for all of eternity. We have to allow these gospel truths to sink in and shape our perspectives because our cravings are aligned to where our gazes are fixed.
Having an eternal perspective will motivate us to cultivate our cravings. But what can we do to actually cultivate our cravings? Hebrews 2:1 says, "pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it". We are to pay attention to the Word of God. We have to have ears that hear His living words and not harden our hearts by tuning into all of the noise in this world. We need to shift our eyes and ears away from the world and toward the Word of God. And this shifting is continual.
Every day, we choose where we will fix our gaze. Yes, the cravings brewing in our hearts greatly influence the direction and intensity of our gazes, but we are not at the mercy of them. We can cultivate an intense craving for His Word! Thomas Chalmers wrote a sermon entitled "The Expulsive Power of a New Affection". There, he explains how our affections for lesser things can only be overcome by a greater affection for God. The only way to condition our spiritual taste buds to be dissatisfied by the trivial information of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram is to "taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8) by feasting on the living and enduring Word of God.
There is no secret potion to growing a love for His Word. There isn't a quick fix. This slow growth happens as you consistently go to His Word. It's a growth that occurs as you study His Word and your mind is renewed by the Spirit. And as you study, you learn about who He is, and your love for Him grows. And the beautiful truth is: though it may be hard at first, the more you go to His Word, the more you will long to go back. Because the riches of God's Word can never be exhausted, we can feast on His Word daily for the rest of our days on this earth. We must not give up. It takes time and effort to cultivate our cravings, but it can be done!