He Gives Me Breath…and Takes My Breath Away

“Yahweh.”

It’s the personal name of God (Exod 3:14). 

It comes from the Hebrew verb “to be”—the verb of existence.

In context, it refers to the true and living God—the self-existent God who rescues his people and owes his dependence to no one and no thing. 

God just is.

And was.

And always will be.

God says, “My name is I AM.”

You are not a God created by human hands
You are not a God dependent on any mortal man
You are not a God in need of anything we can give
By Your plan, that’s just the way it is

You are God alone from before time began
You were on Your throne
You are God alone and right now
In the good times and bad
You are on Your throne
And you are God alone

We’re not really sure how “Yahweh” was pronounced—and it was seldom pronounced out of reverence for ha shem, “the name.”

But it was something approximating breath.

The sound of breath.

Breathing.

To say God’s personal name is to sound like you’re breathing.

Like you’re being.

Like you’re being a human being. 

So, go ahead. Take a breath. 

In and out. 

Do it again. 

In and out.

It’s something we do about 24,000 times a day—unless you’re just a few days old. Then it’s even more.

I was reminded of that when I got to hold Samuel for the first time last week. It was an indescribable joy to hear him breathe and watch him sleep.

Short rapid breaths.

In and out.

Each one softly stating the name of God—“Yahweh”—the God who knit him together in his mother’s womb (Ps 139:13).

Every single breath is a light movement of air, wind, spirit, ruach, pneuma—praising the self-existent God who is.

The self-existent God who beautifully creates in his own image.

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken

Great are You, Lord

It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only

Even better is watching Samuel when he’s awake. Looking around. Watching me. Watching others. Watching his fingers. Exploring his brand-new world.

Crying.

Oh, there’s lots of crying. 

Stronger movements of air, wind, spirit, ruach, pneuma—praising the God who is.

The God who beautifully creates in his own image.

The deepest praise can come through the hardest tears.

And all of it comes from the breath of God.

“The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Gen 2:7).

Every moment thereafter, we say his name.

“Yahweh.” 

“Yahweh.” 

“Yahweh.”

In and out. 

Out and in.

In our waking and our sleeping.

In our coming and our going.

“Yahweh.”

“Yahweh.”

“Yahweh.”

This is life.

And when I think about all this, it takes my breath away.

But only for a moment.

To stop breathing permanently is to stop saying, “Yahweh.” 

To stop breathing permanently is to die.

Think of it! Death is so pathetic it cannot praise God. It cannot say his name.

Even a newborn can do that!

Poor death. He seems so strong, but a baby can best him.

Little Samuel can best him.

But death gets all of us in the end, doesn’t he? 

He comes to where we are, and we stop breathing.

So, is Death the final victor? Will he succeed in getting us to stop saying “Yahweh” forever?

Will he prevail in getting us to stop praising God just by breathing?

Will the silence of the grave mock the God who is and was and will be? The God of life?

No.

“With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last” (Mark 15:37).

But then—in resurrection life—Jesus breathed again.

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia! 
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia! 
Dying once our souls to save, Alleluia! 
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia! 

The Son of God is still breathing today.

In fact, he will never not breathe again. He is life itself. 

“Before Abraham was born,” said Jesus, “I AM” (John 8:58). Like Father, like Son!

Indeed, Jesus breathes on his creation to give us new life.

Eternal life.

“Jesus breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:22).

The holy air, wind, spirit, ruachpneuma—that which praises the self-existent God who is. 

The self-existent God who beautifully RE-creates in his own image.

That’s why Samuel takes my breath away, too.

He’s being, and breathing, and praising the God of life.

So, I breathe in.

And I breathe out.

And with every breath, I praise the Lord.

I just can’t help it.

2 thoughts on “He Gives Me Breath…and Takes My Breath Away

  1. Love the name Samuel. I have one too!

    You give life, You are love
    You bring light to the darkness
    You give hope, You restore
    Every heart that is broken
    And great are You, Lord
    It’s Your breath in our lungs
    So we pour out our praise
    We pour out our praise
    It’s Your breath in our lungs
    So we pour out our praise to You only!

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