I don’t know who to credit for the phrase “mystery of the ordinary.” I can’t believe that I’d be the first to pen these words. But it is true that we frequently find the unusual in the most ordinary of places. I’m also reminded of the phrase “hiding in plain sight” – NOT an original phrase with me.
It happened again as I was sitting in a morning service at Discovery, pastored by Jon Fredricks. I would like to say that I am always “riveted” during Jon’s messages, but would be disingenuous in doing so. In point of fact, my mind wanders down trails chasing after abstract thoughts or ideas. Important thoughts. What’s for lunch. What time does the game start. Just such a thing occurred recently, but with significantly more import.
Frankly, I don’t recall the context, but at one point, Jon used the first Biblical verse I memorized. For those of us of the Christian faith, the text immediately comes to mind, unbidden. We can rattle off John 3:16 like one of those voices reading the disclaimers at the end of a radio commercial. Fast, virtually incoherent. We intuitively know it’s some sort of disclaimer, but we don’t pay much attention.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
We get it. God gave his Son. If we believe in Him, we won’t die and get to live forever. Great news for us as individuals and humankind in general. It’s the basis of our faith in Jesus, the Christ.
I won’t call it an epiphany, but as I wandered down that trail, it struck me. It was “hiding in plain sight”. It was a mystery contained within the ordinary.
It was the word “so.”
Everything I knew about the verse is true, but I have missed the magnitude of what actually happened. I had been reading this verse, quoting this verse, putting “so” and “loved” together. It was a single, two syllable word – “soloved.” In point of fact, the word “so,” has a major impact on the thought.
The word “so,” amongst its various meanings and usages, conveys the concept of magnitude, or degree of magnitude. I would say that the Seahawks were “SOOOOOO” close to winning the Super Bowl…” (No, I won’t get started down that trail). It accurately conveys to each of us who saw that game a “degree of magnitude” that we can understand with all of our senses. We could taste victory, we could smell a win, we could see the parade…. You get the idea.
The same applies to this verse. By degree of magnitude, God SOOOOO loved the world and me, that he did the unthinkable! He gave up a SON!
What was HE thinking!? How could any parent give up a child for someone else – least of all, for me!?
Anyone who would do that would be out of their mind! And, now as the mystery of this ordinary word begins to unfold, He is giving up His child to DIE for me?!
But, the mystery doesn’t stop there. Loving me SO much to give up a child to DIE for me is profoundly humbling and confusing – filling me with consternation. But, it isn’t just the dying for me. It’s the willingness of a child to leave his home, live in an existence entirely foreign to him, leave a relationship of love that defies description, and give up title, abilities, and prerogatives. But the absolute worst of all of these indignities is so be separated from the love of a Father.
In that moment, in that decision, made by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I am forced to acknowledge, that the Father SOOO loved me, He gave His Son so someone like me could be welcomed into relationship with Him. From my measure, an extremely unfair exchange.
Who does that? I could never give up my children for anyone or anything. I would lay down my life without a moments hesitation to preserve the lives of my children. The pain that I feel at the prospect is real. My eyes burn and the tears form.
The mystery of the ordinary; hiding in plain sight.
I could never give up what he did. But He did. God loves me SOOOO much….
By Steve Jones