My childhood friends and cousins grew up like siblings. Our families all lived on the same country road, so growing up, we were the best of friends. Our parents and grandparents would discipline any one of us. No matter what house we went to, we were always fed, and certainly always loved by the family watching us that day.
Looking back, I know there wasn’t extra money for extra kids to be eating all the groceries on the weekends. And groceries weren’t extravagant. These were Bologna and cheese on white bread days; drinking out of the water hose behind the different houses days. I now know how expensive being an adult is, and I know that by many standards of the words, our families were not well off financially, and they lived simple lives.
There was always room for one more kid. One more sandwich could be made. One more Apple spared for any of us. I didn’t know a lot of things then. I didn’t know that there were people in the world who lived any differently than we did, and I thought everyone I encountered would be my friend. I didn’t know that money was hard to come by, and I didn’t know there wasn’t a lot of it to go around. Looking back, we were blessed beyond measure that even if someone wasn’t expected for dinner, there was food for them at the table. I also didn’t know then, that they were teaching us to be like Jesus.
The Bible tells us that God loved the world [the people of the world] so much, that He gave His biggest gift [Jesus] so that WHOSOEVER came to Him, could be saved (John 3:16, paraphrase by me). Whosoever was/is hungry, tired, weary, burdened, depressed, anxious, poor, abandoned, forgotten, hurting… anyone could/can come sit at the table with Jesus, and there would/will be room for more always. There are about 7 billion people in this world now, and God has room enough for all of them, because He has already given everything for them (for US).
John 3:16 is simple, and true. It is the Gospel on which Christianity stands; if you believe Christ died to save you, you are forgiven and free. That’s it. It’s being like a child running from house to house and knowing there is always a hug, and a sandwich for you, and knowing there is enough for your friends, too. There is enough of God’s love to cover everyone.
Personally, I forget sometimes the lessons my grandparents and that neighborhood taught me. I have let cynicism creep in and lie to me telling me that there isn’t enough room for whosoever comes. “Maybe God can’t save them” I have thought too many times. That some people are far too gone to save, or maybe God didn’t hear my prayers begging Him to reach down and protect those I care about.
But God (those are some of the most powerful words), is bigger than the box I put Him in. He is a loving Father who draws me near to Him and reminds me that He gave Jesus on the cross for the “whosoevers”. He tells me they are precious, and they should not be forgotten, but cared deeply and patiently for. Time and time again, His Word encourages the perseverance of prayer, and loving our neighbors. He hears our prayers for those we love, even if we never see the “fruit” of those prayers. He hasn’t forgotten YOU, and He certainly hasn’t forgotten the whosoevers.
WRITTEN BY: SAMANTHA MERCEDEZ
Samantha Mercedez is an Arkansas Tech University graduate, who is head of the Demand Writing Department for an injury law firm in Charleston, SC.
She's recently married, and mom to one Cat, and loves local coffee shops and road trips -- (while listening to too much 90's music).