I awoke from a nap with a single phrase from an old hymn running through my head. I haven't thought of it for years. But upon the memory, I smiled at also remembering, that it was an anchor phrase for me at one time. It was then when I learned there was power in a single word - the odd old-world word- whosoever. I can still hear my mother standing by my side in church when, I had to look up to her 4' 11' person, and could see the underside of the hymnal. "...Whosoever will, may coooomme." (by Phillip Bliss, 1870) She lifted the book a bit as she took solace in and rejoiced, as she sang the word whosoever with confidence it included her.
My Mom had been born with only one leg. She had a shorter partial leg on her right side for which they were able to make her a heavy wooden prosthetic. She was proud to have it, however, because with it, you almost could not tell she had a disability at all. She walked with a slight sway. Many people could not figure out the cause. They would sometimes ask us when she was not in earshot, "did your Mother have Polio?" We would shock them a bit, I suppose, when we said with big smiles, "No, she has a wooden leg!" It never phased us. It was part of who she was. We accepted her daily routine of dressing her leg as easily as her routine of brushing our hair. She did anything she wanted to do, and never paused. She wanted to live as if she was the same as everyone else. She had a tenacity that a lot of people in her youth went out of their way to impress on her. Many of her family saw in her a willingness to be a part of everything and they told her she could do whatever she desired in life. And that is just how she lived.
But it wasn't always so. She had endured her share of persons who mocked her and didn't include her. As a child, her leg was not a leg shaped prosthetic, but rather the proverbial "Pirate" style "peg-leg." My Grandmother told me once she worried about her, until the busdriver shared a story of a day when children pushed her to the back of the line until one unlucky fellow called her "that" name - "pegleg". Not able to take anymore belittling, she leaned back on her good leg and swiped a long round kick with her wooden one, putting him flatly on the ground. And she reclaimed her place in line as she stepped over him. The driver never chastised her to my knowlege. To my Mom it was important that she was among the "whosoever wills." In God's eyes she was never left out, or seen differently, as unacceptable. My Mom never once conveyed a feeling that God saw her differently.
Because of that and a number of other things in my life, the all inclusiveness of Jesus' promise, that whosoever believed could.., became important to me as well. I was so pleased when I totally understood that Jesus included children when he said "whosoever". And my mom was the initial planter of that seed in my mind as well. When I was a toddler, she sang a song to us at bedtime. It was usually, "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world." (Author Unknown) Thereby, I spent my youth fully believing that all children everywhere were a part of the whosoever.
I overheard someone in our church discussing this in the hall, if my memory is correct.. A lady was saying that she didn't think children "of this age" were old enough to understand a decision for Christ. I so wanted to pull her skirt and say, "that's not what Jesus said." When I looked up the word, and counted the times it was used in reference to believing in Christ, I found about 17 verses which indicated that the grace and salvation of God was available to anyone who would believe. (I totally loved the verses where Jesus sat the Children in his lap.) In some trasnlations, the word everyone is used, but to me something is lost. The word whosoever is melodic. I know it is a translation, but to me it is more all inclusive than any other translation.
Because I believed the message of the word, I have always been willing to accept "whosoever" in other walks of my life. I beleive in an all inclusive message - no one exempt from the grace, blessings and freedom of God if they will only believe that they are included in the whosoever. It becomes personal. Although many deny your right, anyone, everyone and whosoever will believe it, has a place among the children of God. I rejoice in this fact. I try to see every individual, first, as one of the whosoevers in the world, before making judgement on their character, or failures, or good looks, or the way they dress, or their age, or color, or whatever. I beleive Jesus looked through the filter of the words of his day that meant "whosoever." And I have my Mom, a great old hymn, a childs song, and at least 17 verses in the New Testament to thank for it.
John was the first disciple whose writings focused on that theme of universal acceptance to any who believed. (Chapter 3) But the Apostles used the theme often in Acts and other epistles, because they were actually teaching to a wide variety of individuals. Their message needed to be clear, that God accepted anyone, any nationality, any station in life, and any age as long as they believed. That is a powerful word. We like to think in America that freedom should be a whosoever term. Anyone who believes in and seeks freedom has a right to it. Salvation should be exactly like that. We should champion it for all men. Wars have been fought for freedom, and are ongoing today in many countries. That ideal goes hand in hand with the salvation message, and is of equal - no greater - value. It is one of the last messages that was left to us in the scriptures, as a reminder. In his closing comments, the author of Revelation (John on the Isle of Patmos,) wrote:
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Revelation 22:17
It is not only for whosoever will, but there are no strings attached. It is free. No acts of discipline, or adherence to law necessary. And it is as necessary as water. We are called to it, to come and if anyone will, take it. I hate when anything is added to this message. If you are thirsty, drink water. If you long for the grace of God, take it. Anyone, everyone, whosoever.
In this month of Thanksgiving, I am most thankful that the water of life is free to whosoever will partake of it.
Thank you Jesus for this marvelous word, and its concept of all inclusiveness. Open our eyes to the fact that there is absolutely no one exempt to the love and inclusion of a God who seeks the hearts of all - not some but all. Thank you for being that wonderful God! AMEN