It’s 5:50 a.m., an hour earlier than I usually rise on a Monday.
My favorite farmer slumbers. Our blankets rise and fall with each breath. Outside, his fields hibernate under a white duvet.
And my thoughts are on one word: So.
I push back covers, fumble in shadows for my Bible, and pad to the kitchen. I make coffee, turn on the news. They’re talking about the crisis in Egypt, the Super Bowl, a fraternity shooting in Ohio.
I open the Word on the kitchen counter — Bread as breakfast. I lean over pages, and push the slipped-down glasses up the bridge of my nose to find the word: “So.”
One word. Two letters. Immeasurable love.
There it is. Right there.
“For God so loved the world …”
— John 3:16
That much. So loved.
I know these verses. I memorized them in nursery school, sitting on tiny wooden chairs, curved by the piano in the church basement. Hortense — I still remember her bluish-gray hair — bobbed her head to emphasize each word.
“God. So. Loved …”
Maybe this sounds like old news to you. But for me, it’s banner-headline material. Will someone call CNN? Does the world yet know that this — THIS! — is the antidote to the pain? Do I?
“So loved.” That much!
I read the words again, mark them in green for the first time.
Could it be I missed this all along? Could it be I missed the depth of the love?
If the Gospel were a novel, this would be the one verse on the dust-cover. If I were the author, this would be my 30-second elevator pitch.
“What’s your Book about?” they would ask.
And I could say: “Well, the main character, God, so loves this messed-up world that He does the unthinkable: He sends His only son as a gift-offering to die a painful death for a world sitting on the ragged brink of disaster. And if these people believe in the story’s protagonist, they will never die. The hero will spare them from death.”
I stare at the words. And I look at the one … single … word.
Outside, the Creator sends another day. Do I ever really notice? Is the “so” I say, most often this one: So what?
Outside the blue morning light sends darkness scampering. Snow blushes pink.
I click at the keyboard, and Google “Bible commentaries on John 3:16.”
I want to know about the “so love.” But can I ever really comprehend the depth of that love — limitless, infinite, sacrificial?
I find a piece of the answer. The commentators say the Greek word is this: houtos. The commentators say that rarely do the Bible’s authors use this one word — houtos — to convey deep emotion.
But here, God moved the pen strokes like this: οὕτως
So = οὕτως.
“He has put an eternity of meaning in the particle, οὕτως, so, and left a subject for everlasting contemplation, wonder, and praise, to angels and to men.”
— Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible
I write houtos in my Bible.
He houtos loves me because He houtos loves me. I’ve got a mind to live this day like I so believe that.