Another favorite book of mine is written by a Jewish Rabbi. The book is called Yearnings:Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life. The author is Rabbi Irwin Kula.
With sage-like wisdom Rabbi Kula does what rabbis (rabbinam) do best. He places more questions in your mind than answers. Jesus did this when He taught too. The next time you read a gospel, watch how He answers so many of the Pharisees’ questions.
On my coffee table (and all around my messy house) are books ranging from devotionals to Bible studies to nonfiction inspirational books. I usually ask the Lord which one He wants me to read during my quiet time, and often I will find nuggets of gold in the pages of the one He has led me to. The other day I was led to pick up Yearnings, and this is the paragraph I read:
“In the Jewish tradition there are hundreds of names (for God): Father, Mother, Lover, Creator, Destroyer, Nurturer, Redeemer, Forgiver, Friend, Life-giver, to name just a few. The name used most often in Jewish texts is also the most mysterious and intimate. It is YHWH, which in English is all consonants and no vowels. In Hebrew it’s actually a word with no consonants and all vowels. Either way, it is unpronounceable. When you try to say it, you hear the sound of breath, a simple exhale. What is this teaching? The name of God is not meant to be uttered. YWHW is not meant to be known. YHWH is meant to be breathed” p.18
Only words can be heavy and delicate at the same time. The last two sentences were like a feather with the power to knock me off the couch. YHWH is not meant to be known. YHWH is meant to be breathed.
You might want to argue that God does want to be known. That is His desire. But the point here isn’t whether or not He wants us to know Him, it is the fact that even with all of our study and searching, He will never be fully understood on this side of eternity.
I love theology. I love to try to figure God out, but this statement releases me from any presupposed ideas that I could ever grasp it all. So I’ve decided that when things get hairy, when life starts tumbling out of control, and I began wondering what in the world God is doing, rather than trying to figure it out, I think I’m just going to close my eyes and breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale deeper. Exhale longer. And I’m going to ask Holy Spirit to let me smell Him, breathe Him, taste Him.
I invite you to do this with me. Take a minute today and breathe. He’s waiting.