Our God is vastly more than we can comprehend. I am struck daily by the fact that we serve a God, the One True God, who has the big picture in mind. Yes, he cares deeply about the intimate details of our lives. He knows us down to the number of hairs on each of our heads. He wants to direct our feet down his path. But YHWH is also orchestrating something bigger than just us and more spectacular than how smoothly our lives unfold. Our God, the King of Kings, has been telling us a story.
A magnificent story. His story. Our story, too, but it’s mostly about our God.
It began before the dawn of time and will continue on into eternity. It is a story in which YHWH desires us to be participants so that we are drawn to himself. Everything we are asked by him to do, from our specific way of worship, remembrances of appointed times, how we are to conduct our lives, to the way we are viewed in our communities is a part of the story. Everything that we do, out of a loving, faithful obedience, brings us to a deeper love of the Father, a greater understanding of the sacrifice of the Son and a more vibrant life through the Spirit at work in us.
Our God, YHWH, the God of Israel, wants us all to tell this story repeatedly throughout the generations. To teach our children, to remind ourselves, and to serve a witness to the nations. And God wants me to tell a small part of this story.
I had been feeling convicted for over six months to cover my head. Not just to cover in general, but cover in a manner identifiably Jewish. I resisted. I had many reasonable and legitimate excuses.
First, I generally don’t like to be told that I must do something, especially when it relates to my obedience to YHWH. Since there are many groups of believers who mandate headcovering, I didn’t want to feel like I was, or be viewed as, following a “movement” or a group.
Also, I didn’t want to others to see my headcovering as a legalistic symbol. I can’t earn the favor of our Father and in any way merit my salvation. The last thing I wanted was for others to view my actions in that way.
A serious justification for me not to cover my head was that I kind of like to blend in. Covering my head would be, well, kind of conspicuous. And anyway, it would not be relevant to anyone in my culture. I reasoned that I wanted to have conversations about my faith with people, not just collect stares.
Finally, I didn’t see a clear Biblical mandate to cover my head. I had read every position of this much-debated issue. I know the passages, the arguments. It was still unclear to me. Time after time, I justified my inaction because I didn’t see it word for word in the Scriptures.
So, I pushed the call of headcovering away. Again. And again.
Why would I feel continually prompted by the Spirit to search the Word and my heart on this topic? I didn’t get it. And my excuses still seemed to outweigh any conviction of the Spirit. I couldn’t comprehend the why of it. I needed to understand before I was ready to obey.
That’s when the it hit me right in the heart.
Why did I need to know why God was asking me to obey so that I would obey? So that I would decided at that point if I agreed with him? When did my finite mind become the measure to which all life choices are defined? Who am I that I should comprehend the ways of YHWH?
I really struggled with this for a long time. A friend of my reminded me that Satan asked Eve the same question, is that really what God said? The Father of Lies successfully deceived the very first people, and every human being since, into thinking that YHWH and his Word cannot be trusted. Therefore, we believe that we must make the most logical assessment of the situation, since we think our ways are above God’s, and respond accordingly.
What a lie! We don’t always have the answers for why God calls us to do something. Or not do something. And not everything that we are instructed to do is specifically written in the Scriptures. So much of it is being written in our hearts. We follow these instructions because we love Him and want to reflect Him, not just because it is something written. I shouldn’t be afraid to walk just because I can’t find an answer for why. The irony is that the entire struggle comes down to honoring and trusting the headship of YHWH regardless of personal preference or culture, which is exactly what headcovering symbolizes.
I made a choice right then that I didn’t need to know why in order to follow. It was not a requirement for my obedience.
At that point, the Spirit began to reveal some amazing truths about this story he is teaching me. In the Father’s graciousness he has given me words, as I so desire to reflect his story to others. I hope that this will be encouragement to you, too, as you seek to know YHWH more fully.
Here are a few words explaining what headcovering is not to me.
- It is not an explicit command in the books of the Law.
- It is not for modesty in the true sense, at least in this culture.
- It is not a sign of maturity or piety.
- It is not a requirement for salvation.
- It is not a symbol of bondage to the Law or to man.
- It is not a sign that I am inferior to my husband, nor did he even ask me to do this.
- It is not necessarily a response to the 1 Corinthians passage on headcovering in worship.
- It is not something that I think all women should do.
Here is what headcovering is to me.
- It is a practice referenced throughout the entirety of the Scriptures.
- It is a testimony, a witness that my obedience doesn’t depend on my comprehension of the Father’s will.
- It is my call of obedience to be set apart in appearance, as I am in heart.
- It is my opportunity to share the story of YHWH and his people.
- It is a symbol of the glory and headship of YHWH over man, as seen in 1 Corinthians.
- It is a reminder of our identity with the people of Israel, where it is still deeply cultural to cover, that we are adopted into one family.
I have many thoughts on each of the points I have listed above, as this has been swirling inside my head, for months. I am not going to take the time here to delve into each of those. I would, though, love to share them with anyone on a more personal level if you have concerns or questions yourself.
Though I am not entirely comfortable with this yet, my Father is strengthening my heart and giving me courage every day. In my pride I’d like to think that God would never want or ask me to conspicuously stand out like this. But, humbly, I have to admit he has already called us to be set apart in many ways that haven’t always been natural or cultural. He has called us to eat differently, act differently, worship differently, care for others differently. Now, he has asked me to look different.
It is so counter cultural. But, then, that is kind of the point.
I really see this part of my story as a call to be set apart, in my life and my dress. Not because I want people to stare at me or be distracted…but to wonder why. This isn’t my feeble attempt to convince anyone that headcovering is a more righteous way to live. It is most definitely not contrary to what is already written in Scriptures, and there are some compelling reasons I see for doing it myself. Namely as obedience to testify to the work that YHWH is doing in me and as a witness of the big picture of the salvation of his people.
I pray that my headcovering will testify to the reality that we have been grafted into a family tree, adopted with a new heritage. We are branches broken off of a wild tree and now growing as one tree with the chosen people of YHWH. We shouldn’t take this lightly, becoming prideful in our understanding, as we are not the original tree. Though, becoming Jewish is not a prerequisite for entering the family of God’s people, because we enter through the covenant extended to us by the Messiah and the Spirit, we are still one family. My headcovering represents that all believers are united through the Messiah in one family whose Father is YHWH of Israel. I desire to be a reminder that there are not two separate stories; one for believers of Israel and one for Christians. There is one beautifully orchestrated story for the true people of YHWH, both rooted and receiving life in the Messiah.
I pray also that through my headcovering you will visibly be reminded that YHWH’s grace and glory is the covering of his true people. We are told in 1 Corinthians, whether you read that passage as culturally applicable or not, that by covering the head we symbolize the definition of headship. There is a natural order within creation; YHWH, man and then women. Not in an inferior way, because man comes from woman through childbirth, just as woman came from man through Adam’s rib. When I cover my head I am acknowledging that my head, which is man, is under the covering of YHWH. I don’t want my own glory to be represented by my own head, but that of the Father. What grace YHWH has given us in being covered by the blood of his own Son. This is not by anything that we could accomplish ourselves, but purely due to his abundant grace for his glory.
So, every time you see me with my head wrapped in scarves and looking very Jewish I hope it makes you stop and think. Contemplate the beautiful reality that we are a part of the true Israel and called to be set apart in the way YHWH asks, for his glory. Sometimes in ways that we understand, but often in ways that don’t make sense through human logic. Also, remember the big picture of this story YHWH is weaving together. He is the head over man and through his immeasurable grace he has extended his covering over our heads through the Messiah, Yeshua. Without this covering there is no hope.
Because of Messiah, we have a new spiritual family, a heavenly Father, and the hope of true life everlasting. To YHWH be all glory and honor forever!