I remember first trying coffee as a boy. It was so bitter that it needed several spoons of sugar. But it was a grown up drink. Adults drank it and it seemed to be the lubricant for social conversation. Plus it was that or tea. And to my mother’s disappointment (who drinks it by the teapot) I never got to like tea. There’s probably too much Jan Smuts in me and not enough Geoffrey Boycott (my mum was born in Yorkshire). I drink tea, but it’s not coffee.

At university I managed to wean myself off sugar – saves money – but I never managed to go black. Still, coffee was a functional drink. It was something you offered people to thaw out a conversation. The stimulant was a relaxing agent.

Then we moved to Sydney. There I discovered real coffee – a flat white to be precise. This was to enjoyed for itself. This was joy in a cup. My life has never been the same since. (As my family and Karen will tell you.) Now sleep is a poor substitute for good coffee.

So coffee is an acquired taste. (Like Guinness, but that is another story.) I didn’t enjoy it at first but now I find it hard to live without it. Sorry India and Sri Lanka, but, well.

One of my ‘goals’ for my sabbatical was to re-develop a thirst for God in my devotional life. In India I have been reading John Piper’s book, “When I don’t desire God,” as part of my prayer times in the morning. One of his main points is that a longing for God is an acquired taste. It starts with the miracle of new birth (that you have any desire for him at all) but then it needs to be cultivated. I have acquired a taste for all sorts of pleasures and joys. Consequently my body has learnt to crave them. Recently I have been challenged to teach my heart to yearn for Christ, to find joy in knowing Him. I am consciously trying to train my mind to look for Christ’s glory in all circumstances.

So, every morning I pray for this acquired taste, as I read the Bible and pray. Slowly I am seeing a little progress. I think it is going to be harder than giving up sugar though… even if far more rewarding.