The second verse I wrote in my little white Bible (2 of 5) was John 3:16 –
What exactly did this mean to a little girl who was secretly studying the Bible. It was taboo at the time and perhaps that made it all the more interesting to the family rebel.
A search for faith became more interesting about this time as I was ‘caught’ exiting the church of another denomination and as a result of parental punishment by the church leaders I was assigned to correspond to my godfather. (Not as in Chicago gangster — as in representative at infant baptism who promised to guide my spiritual growth.)
This was as exciting to me as being turned loose in a detective bureau! And John 3:16 became a focal point of one of our discussions.
The verse (King James version) reads: John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
The most important word in this verse to me was probably not what you would expect. It was this little word:
I thought adults would often generalize, pull out the big themes of things and miss some important treasure. It was great fun for me to examine places, people, and words which I believed held great mystery.
God SO loved the world
Have you ever made something that felt pulled from your heart and soul? That is how I imagined God felt about the world he made – order – design – heart-touching – and wild, to some extent as well. Explainable but not. But I was only about 12. And when I thought about how “the world” he made was not ‘just’ the big round orb, earth – sky – and all that is in it – but included the people – and me (!) I was over the top.
Right there I saw it – God loved me!
He SO loved me …
That SO became a cause for several letters and questions – and the SO became discussed in many languages. The conclusion was not “so MUCH” but
In such a manner – in such a way
It made sense to my young mind that Jesus would and could love differently than any human, and of course it made me look around at how humans loved (or didn’t love) one another.
And it wrings my heart years later that Laurie also used this verse and 1 John 4:19 (we love Him because He first loved us) at age 4 to explain to me how she knew she was a child of God
God loved his world, including me, in such a manner that…
That is a good lesson for me, right there. I loved to get. I was a conniver and would plan and scheme how I could possibly GET what I wanted.
God just gave.
My understanding began then and has developed since, to understand that what God DOES shows who He IS.
God is a giver.
And – He gave his best, His most valuable, His greatest treasure.
That – in order for something to happen-
Here I learned a big (for me) word – Consecution. An orderly sequence – this happens and that makes that happen. I turn on the light, so that I can see. We turn the knob, so we can open the door. I loved that my godfather was studying Latin in seminary and enhanced my love and interest for words and their root in different languages.
So just like the first verse James 5:16 which I shared last week, there is an orderly sequence to understand, to appreciate and to follow.
Whoever believed in that gift – which I found means to trust
Like I trust in a chair to hold me up, I need to commit and trust and relax myself – my soul – my spiritual well-being — to God.
God did that because only then would we not be destroyed (perish) but have
To my mind, His yielding was an ultimately romantic move!
That is all I understood of love at that point, and to me, for one to SO love another as to give their very best, their highest treasure, was awesome.
I wondered if I could ever feel, or learn, to love another like that.
Perhaps, I thought, I could start with loving God back.