Jehovah Lord

Name of God

I thought my participation in a group hike up the McKenzie River one September Saturday was a good illustration of my Christian walk, especially to share with Christians who like to be "one of the guys," but I need to preface it by saying, don't laugh. That probably won't do any good, not after we've heard sermons on joy. I title my story:

Everybody Else Crosses by the Bridge.
Earl Walks on Water.

After listening to the weather report, upper 50's to 60, I dressed light with a short sleeve shirt over a long sleeve one, a hat for the sun, and just a poncho in case it rained. I couldn't find my hiking boots, so I wore my snow boots. They'd have to do.

We drove up to Sahalie Falls where at that elevation I discovered the temperature to be upper thirties to forty. There was snow on the ground. Anyway, I had warm fur lined boots, and the hat on top of the poncho hood gave me double insulation, and the poncho cut the wind. But it was cold.

At least my snow boots gave me traction while everyone else was struggling not to slip. We saw the waterfalls which were pretty awesome due to the runoff from the warm weather earlier. Then we got past the falls. We warmed up as we walked.

Feeling the call of nature, I hiked up the hill off the trail and found of all things an outhouse on the edge of a closed picnic ground. So I went in and did my business, leaving my poncho on the ground outside so people would know it was busy, though to be sure, there wasn't anybody else around. There was even toilet paper inside. Moldy but in good supply. After I was done I washed my hands in the snow, and then realized I didn't see the group.

No problem. Having an excellent sense of direction, I took off on the high ground to head them off. I was making good time, and sure enough, by and by, I came upon some tracks. Human tracks. Fresh tracks. My tracks. And there was the outhouse. I had gone in a big circle.

I needed another plan. Well, I knew they were going downhill all the way to the reserve cars, and the hill on the other side of the river was too steep to climb. Either they were following the river trail or they had gone up to the highway. So I found the access road to the reservoir which road they would have to cross to get to the highway and if I didn't see their tracks, it would lead me to the reservoir which the river trail would necessarily lead to anyway. It was a plan. Off I went.

I found no footprints crossing the access road. I came to the reservoir and walked out across the causeway on some car tracks. I got out quite a ways not seeing any footprints. Well, I figured, 30 hikers would have left some footprints if they came that way, so that wasn't it.

What I did was take off my poncho w/hood and listened real carefully for the chattering of the hikers. No chattering, but from the hills on the far side of the lake, I heard someone calling, "Earllll, Earllll!" So I called out, "Helloooo," and we spotted each other from the distance. I started to proceed across the causeway when they kept calling, "You're on the wrong trail," pointing out the bridge on the other side of the lake I needed to cross, way in the distance. And I thought to myself, isn't that just like my Christian walk. How many times have other brothers told me, "Earl, you're on the wrong trail," and pointed out the "right" way?

Evidently the causeway did not go all the way across the pond. They usually end up at a fence next to a spillway with no place to cross. The hikers were just trying to save me from a dead end. So should I continue on across or walk the long way around the lake to the bridge?

In situations where we need to make crucial decisions, I am told we should ask ourselves, "What would Jesus do?" Now, I'm not the most knowledgeable New Testament scholar, and correct me it I'm wrong, but I don't recall reading in any gospel where Jesus walked around a lake to get to the other side. And He didn't necessarily have a ferry service either. I continued on my way.

But then I recalled the counter argument that we can't simply do what Jesus would have done, on account of Jesus was unique. So I turned around and started the long trip to the bridge. But then I thought to myself, I know what unique is. Unique is walking in a circle. Do I mean to do it a second time? I turned back across the causeway.

It wasn't quite like an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. More like Peter on one side saying, "Just don't look at the waves," and Thomas on the other, "You've got to be kidding!" While I was pacing back and forth trying to work it out, my fellow hikers were promoting the bridge in the distance, pointing and shouting.

Evidently Peter got more milage out of me than Thomas, because I found myself at the end of the causeway next to a fence before the spillway and no place to cross the remaining distance. Furthermore, the leader of the search party was about to get there and she was none too happy with me. I didn't want to get chewed out and then have to walk all the way around the lake thinking about it. What should I do? Jump in the lake? Take off running? Pray?

A minute later she arrived to find me smiling nonchalantly on her side of the dam, dry as a bone, calm and collected. She looked at the open water between us and the end of the causeway, and her curiosity got the better of her. "How did you get across?"

I think at some future time when I am being considered for sainthood and the bishops come to document the miracles of "Saint Earl," my critics will complain. Yes, they concede, I walked across a mighty river without artificial aid reaching the other side not even wet, but they will point out that the river below the dam naturally travels underground and all that remained on the surface was a stagnant pool about three inches deep. Splash, splash, and I was across. And as I was wearing waterproof boots, arriving dry on the other side lacks the force of the miraculous. To my critics, my reply is, I'm all the saint I need to be. I'm not going to fall into a lake to prove a point.

The leader had a pointed question, "Why did you do this to us?" I told her I didn't do anything to them. I stopped to use the outhouse, leaving my poncho outside to mark my presence, and when I was done, no-one was around. I did what was necessary to reunite with the group, all the right things and here I was. She was smart enough to drop the subject. She just wanted us to stick together.

You know, that reminds me of Christians, always wanting to do things together, and that is fine. But think of it, how was I going to accomplish my business there in the outhouse if I told the leader to stop the group to mill around and wait until I am done? I'd just be too self conscious. Similarly I feel that sometimes in the journey of a Christian walk a man feels the need to get away and do something with a woman which he can't accomplish with a whole group looking on. I've had arguments with other Christians who are opposed to any kind of dating except going to church activities together. My response is that learning to relate to the opposite sex requires "going out" or as Genesis puts it, leaving father and mother to cleave to the woman. One has to go through this whole process to learn a new dynamic of an eventual family unit which cannot be properly done doing the churchy things together exclusively. I think Christians need to cut each other some slack for this, just as the hiking group should have made allowance for a stop at the outhouse.

That's just one of my pet peeves with Christians in general, not about any particular church.

So I was back on the trail, skipping and cavorting, and having a jolly good time capering about. Just as the sermon on joy said. But I was in the awesome presence of nature all the same, just as the Christian life is done with an awesome God. Both God and nature deserve our respect nonetheless. At points on the trail there were bridges over the ravines. These bridges were nothing but a big log shaved on top with a handrail on one side but open on the other. And the log we walked on was covered with ice.

I think that there are places on the trail of our happy Christian walk when we should hold the name of God in reverence, and the Bible is like that rail to lean on, giving us stability. In the car on the way back one girl commented about her horror at a four foot gap in the rail on one of those bridges where she had to inch her way in the open. Man! When I got to the single log bridges, I just sauntered along in my sure grip snow boots with my hands in my pockets. I wasn't going to grab any cold rail.

Name Jehovah in
Bible Maybe you or I can respect YAHWEH in Exodus 6 or Isaiah 12 without the Bible specifying it, but some Christians might appreciate there not be that gap in modern translation.

In my dance class one Sunday night we were practicing a move called "fall off the log" where we kind of throw up an arm and fall back as if we'd slipped off a log. As much fun as that was, I wouldn't want to do that crossing on a real log above a chasm. I think it's fine that we can use the general name God in our day to day conversation, but where in the Bible it calls for the more respected name YAHWEH, I don't think we should be importing that day to day conversation into sacred text.

To be sure, the Septuagint which the apostles quoted uses just Thetaeosigma end, but if Greek doesn't have JEHOVAH which the English does, then we could hardly use that word in Greek, while in English we have no excuse not to.

I refer you to (Malachi 1:6) "A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where if my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?"

Well, how do we honor every minority and special group?

    "Calm down, honey," Bob says. "To you he's an African American. Five years ago he was black, before that a Negro, before that colored. How am I supposed to keep up? To me he's a nigger. His own friends call him nigger. What's the difference?
—Greg Iles, Mortal Fear481

    But wasn't that racist, always to be thinking, This person is white, this person is black? Not black, she reminded herself; a person of color was what one said these days—though, of course, twenty years ago such a phrase would have invited a punch in the face.
—Paul Russell, The Coming Storm482

Why do we use terms of lower respect for God's name: "The Lord" (NIV) when we have higher respect terms for God's name: "JEHOVAH" (KJV)? Moreover, why does my church then call a service using the NIV traditional? If we are so careful not to disrespect minorities by using lesser terms, where then is our respect for God who deserves it more than anyone?


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Earl Gosnell
1950 Franklin Bv., Box 15
Eugene, OR 97403


Copyright © 2004, Earl S. Gosnell III

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.

Permission is hereby granted to use the portions original to this paper—with credit given, of course—in intellectually honest non-profit educational material. The material I myself have quoted has its own copyright, which I cannot speak for but have used here under the fair use doctrine.

I have used quoted material for teaching and illustration in this nonprofit teaching endeavor. The source is included in a notes file. Such use must be judged on individual merit, of course, so I cannot say how other uses of the same material might fare.

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Scripture quotations marked NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION or NIV are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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