When the World Says “No Way …”

January 14, 2011 | 24 comments

My passenger knows why my hands tighten around the steering wheel right here, where the jagged line of trees rises up from a snow-filled ditch.

Most days, I think I’m so over it. I drive by at 57 miles per hour — day after day — on my way to the college. Some days, I’ll find myself a mile past these trees before I realize I passed by without remembering.

It will be two years on January 17. The snow blew wild, in satin ribbons across the ice-patched highway that morning. It was a subzero Saturday. Blue-gray light slanted over shorn farmfields.

I remember the steel, crumpling around my body like tin-foil. I remember the stunning smack of airbags, the spinning, the neck-whipping stop in the ditch, and the way the blood felt warm against my left leg. I remember how the whole of me shook, cold, while winter blew straight through my ripped-open van.

I remember two men leaning through the broken window, both of them calling for help. One dialed 911; the other held my hand and prayed.

The roads are clear today, but I think of all of that. I decide, on this day, that it’s good to remember.

She interrupts my thoughts: “What were you thinking when it happened?”

I keep my eyes straight ahead and answer in six words: “That I was going to die.”


She asks if we can listen to the song I was singing the moment the car crossed the center line and hit mine.

I nod, grateful. Kelly finds “Exalted (Yahweh)” by Chris Tomlin on the iPod, and we sing the words together:

Yahweh, Holy is Your Name
Yahweh, Holy is Your Name

Yahweh. It’s a name composed of four Hebrew consonants — YHVH — called the tetragrammaton:

Yod, Hey, Vav, Hey.

Believed in Jewish tradition to be too sacred to be uttered aloud, the name is often referred to as the “Ineffable.” But the veil was torn. We may speak the sacred name audibly. Yod, Hey, Vav, Hey.

Each letter has an underlining meaning in the Hebrew language — a meaning that just floors me. Before Christ walked the Earth, those who knew the name YHVH surely must have wondered what this could have meant. In the Hebrew:

Y (yod) means “Hand.”
H (heh) means “window of breath, or Behold.”
V (vav) means “Nail.”
H (heh) means “window of breath, or Behold.”

When we cry out to YHVH, when we sing his exalted name, we say: “Behold the Hand. Behold the Nail.”

Author and friend Ann Voskamp shares this awe for the Holy name of YHVH. She wrote these words at Holy Experience yesterday:

“We pray to YHWH whose name embodies suffering, Who takes our hand with His nail scarred one and we behold the Wounded Healer, the One in Whom is our window of breath in a world suffocating with pain and ache.”


Two years ago, I came home changed. They stitched up a wound on the leg. It formed the shape of a Y, and I’ve prayed to God: “Heal the wound, but leave the scar.”

I see my scar every day. I think of scarred YHVH, the Wounded Healer. What if we would see Him in all our scars?

I see Ys everywhere these days — on my leg, in tree limbs, in clouds, in flocks of geese, in crowds of worshippers with arms raised high in the shape of a Y.

I see Him in you.

Dear one: When the world tells us “No way,” let’s respond with this: YHVH.

Tell your problems what YHVH stands for: Behold the Hand. Behold the Nail.

God has marked our world with his initial, Y.


On the way home yesterday, Kelly asked me: “What would you say about me if you ever wrote about me on your blog?”

Dear Kelly — There is much to say about you. But more than anything, I’d say this: I love watching how You lean on YHVH daily. I see God in you. I love you …

by | January 14, 2011 | 24 comments


  1. A Simple Country Girl

    Oh my, Jennifer.

    That is how I met you. I had only just learned about blogs and was enraptured by Ann V.'s words. She led me to Laura B. And then one of those two fine ladies had a link for a friend in need of prayer. That was two years ago. That "friend" was you. And a friend you are!

    Your digs are beauty. As are you.


  2. Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus

    Simple Country Girl,

    That was how we met? And you prayed for me, then a stranger? Oh, that gives me goosebumps.

    Thank you for letting me walk down this path again. When the calendar turns to January, I can't NOT think about this time in my life. And then, Ann has been writing so beautifully this week of YHVH. It stirred up much emotion in me.

    God bless you, SCG. Thank you for walking with me. I love you.

  3. RCUBEs

    So beautiful that through that accident, you were forever scarred…but for good reasons as you shared "Y"…

    "Scarred hands…Windows of breath…"

    He surely showed His unfathomable hands in those nail-scarred hands and for those who will believe…He is the Air…that we breathe. Glory be to God! Love the pics and I forgot to tell you the last time I visited that your new look is awesome! God bless.

  4. RCUBEs

    I meant unfathomable "love" not hands…Now your words are being etched in my heart and mind…"To look for Y in everything"…

  5. Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus

    Rosel — Oh, how I love your Y-shaped heart.

    And the "windows of breath" part of YHVH was new to me. Ann Voskamp discovered that in her research of the name. I'm just in awe. IN AWE!!!

    Think of all the things we will learn one day during Heaven's Hebrew classes! We've barely scratched the surface!

  6. Joan Davis

    You painted a beautiful picture of how our Holy God's name was and is woven in all you experienced…the song on the radio, the prayer of a stranger, the scar on your leg. Thank you for sharing your story and also enlightening us on the name Yahweh. Yes, let's always remember to "behold the hand and behold the nail."

    Living for Him, Joan

  7. amy

    this is so beautiful and i really, really needed to read it today. your words wash over me. thank you

  8. S. Etole

    This causes a definite lump in my throat on many different levels.

  9. Amy Sullivan

    I love how you prayed to heal the wound and not the scar. I never knew about your accident Jennifer.

  10. Lyla Lindquist

    The way to healing is through a wound. The way to life is through death.

    Have a good friend who says the way up is down.

    Maybe you know her. You can tell by the Y-shaped scar on her leg. Or was it on her heart… I can never remember…

  11. Julie

    Oh Jennifer…I remember when this happened. I had been a visitor of your blog for quite sometime.

    This story still gives me chills down my spine. To see and hear about how many of us were praying for you without really "knowing" you first hand was a blessing.

    I still love how you look at the scar and how you see Yahweh in everything. You have made me and encouraged me to look for the "Y" in everything.

    Love you

  12. Megan Willome

    This is how I met you, too! Just like A Simple Country Girl. Two years ago, I wasn't praying very well, but I lit a tealight for you and said, "Here, God. You pray for that Jennifer girl in that I-state."

    Isn't it just like our Lord, to use this awful situation to bring you in relationship with others?

  13. Jeanne Damoff

    I almost told you this when you wrote about the "Y" marring your table's surface, but now is just as good or better.

    There's a Y-shaped indentation in our dining room table's surface, too. I have no idea how it got there. It's located at the end where Jacob often sits, and when it catches his attention, he says, "Y."

    At first I thought he was randomly asking the perpetual question that plagues us all at life's difficult moments. But when I said, "Why what?" he simply pointed to the scar and repeated the word.


    When I read your words I felt like I had the rest of the story. The question and the answer.



    He alone brings purpose into pain and sense into suffering.

    Now when the light hits that scar and Jacob says "Y" (he does it every time), I think of Yahweh.

    Y + light + Jacob (and all his life represents) = Yahweh.

    Every breath is grace. Hallelujah.

    Thanks for the gift of your story. I wanted you to know how it touches mine.

    Love, Jeanne

  14. Toia

    This is such a beautiful and heartfelt post…full of grace!!! I enjoy reading it!!!

  15. Linda

    This makes me want to fall on my face and weep Jennifer. Thank you so much – you and dear Ann. It is miraculous – everything fitting one into another until we behold the Savior. There is still so much we cannot see, but how lovely that you see Him wherever you look. I will now too. We give to one another what we have and we are so blessed.
    Thank you dear one.

  16. Charity Singleton

    So hard to remember, and yet so good. You see more Y's in that day as you reconsider it now. I'm so thankful for the Lord's mercy that day. Blessings.

  17. Dakota

    Hey, I just came across your blog by doing a bit of blog-surfing, and I'm glad I did! I've added myself as your newest follower, and I hope you'll check out my Christian devotional site as well: wwwnocondemnation81.blogspot.com

    Have a blessed day!

    In Christ,

  18. Beth E.

    Wow, Jennifer…your posts always seem to be exactly what I need to hear. Thank you for explaining the meaning of Yahweh. Saying it now takes on a whole new meaning for me.

    You are always such an inspiration and encouragement to me. I love your heart for the Lord! Sending BIG HUGS your way…

  19. Cherie

    Our son had what could have been a devastating accident a few weeks ago. There explanation for how it is that he and his friends walked away without a mark – except that for Brady there was this moment… this moment in which hands and nails were real. At sixteen that's life changing. I'm thankful for the Y I see in him these days. Not that it wasn't there before, just, maybe not as prominent.

    Thanks for sharing your story again and in a new way. It's so good to thank God for your presence in this world being preserved! You are important and valuable and it just wouldn't be the same without you!

  20. Jennifer

    I'm sure a part of you did die in that crash just like apart of me died when my husband lost his career. But oh how God has given back life to my family many times over. So odd, God's economy–where losing our life means we gain it. So odd, but so beautiful.

  21. Kathy S.

    I love Y.
    Love your photos too. What a profoundly intimate scar and message.

  22. Jacquelyn Stager

    What a scarey thing to have happened to you. You probably will never be "over" it completely, but the memories will hopefully grow "softer"… Especially with that Y shaped scar…You'll never look at a Y the same again! And you will remember Yaweh! I'm so glad your lives were spared and you have shared the sory.

  23. Sandra Heska King

    Oh, Jennifer. This gives me God bumps. You are a thing of beauty. Because of Him. Because of YHVH. Forever etched–His name in you. I am so very grateful for you.

  24. Marsha

    Thank you for sharing the deeper meaning of YHVH, and the Y Scar. The words have been inscribed on my heart… ones I shall never forget.
    Blessings to you and yours.



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