John 3:16 on the Lakeshore

IMG_2723We know John 3:16. We learned it as kids and can recite it without thinking.

Which is kind of sad –  the not-thinking part.

Because John meant what he wrote. God inspired what John wrote. We are to “live out” what John wrote.

Last week on Facebook someone put up a quote from someone else (I think someone well- known in the ministry world) that said something like: Every person you see, remember God loves them as much as He loves you. That wasn’t it exactly, but that’s the thought.

I know that, of course. That wasn’t a new revelation, but often I forget it.

Don’t you? Oh, we do fairly well with our friends and family, and maybe even the people we work with,  and the people at church, and the people in our neighborhood. But when it comes to people we don’t know, that knowledge becomes a little blurry.

I was thinking about that Thursday night. We had gone down to Navy Pier (Chicago) to watch the fireworks. Because we knew there would be lots of people (guesstimate – 60,000), we went early and sat on a step about 15 feet from an unfenced drop-off into the water. Between us and the lake was a path and as we sat there, we watched hundreds and hundreds of people walk by.


(I am changing to present test – because people are all around us every day – not just on the Fourth.)

Family-type people herding little kids, one toddler in her bare feet taking walking lessons with dad’s help.

Couples leaning on each other even as they walk, starry-eyed and not really watching where they are going.

Bikers dodging  people as they speed down the walk.

People taking pictures of the setting sun as it cast rays of gold, orange and pink over the yachts lingering on the lake and  in the windows of the nearby buildings.

Vendors selling ice cream.

Kids purposely falling in the lake, reveling in the resulting splashes showering water on the people on the shore.

A few homeless people shuffling down the walk with their belongings.


A group of teens saunters by and then stops right in front of us, blocking our view as others gather around them. Guys with their pants hanging low, and their uber-expensive, best-brand shoes gleaming in the now-dark evening.  The girls in dresses that cling to every micro-inch of their bodies. The guys’ swagger and the girls’ sassiness is evident with each movement. The group suddenly moves off toward another destination.


After the fireworks are over, we quickly head out and back to our hotel which is only three blocks away. The 17-year-old and I sit on the window seat in our room and watch the people coming back from the show. But something is off. Yes, you always hear sirens in Chicago, but tonight they are continuous. Police cars, fire engines, and ambulances wail by the hotel. People are rushing, running across the streets. Chaos everywhere.

And then we hear the news – three people have been stabbed at the Pier, then someone throws a firecracker into the crowd and a stampede results, trampling 12 more people. Hospitals are on alert.


Sixty thousand people, each one created by God. He knows the number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:20). He knows when we sit down and when we stand up  (Psalm 119). He knows our every thought (Psalm 119). He is not surprised at anything that happened that night.


He gives every single one of us the opportunity to accept His gift of salvation through grace. He gives every single one of us the opportunity to have our sins forgiven. He gives every single one of us the opportunity to have eternal life.

Because …


And then He says …

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (I John 4:11).





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