Thursday, November 3, 2016

Dry Bones...

     "The hand of the LORD was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold,there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry. He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, You know.” Again He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.’ “Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. ‘I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the LORD." Ezekiel 37: 1-6

    This passage has captivated my heart and mind for well over a month now. It all started with a song written by Lauren Daigle. She sings these words, "As we call out to dry bones come alive, come alive. We call out to dead hearts come alive, come alive. Up out of the ashes let us see an army rise. We call out to dry bones come alive."  As I listened to it, I couldn't help but ask God how do I call out to dry bones to come alive?  In my search for an answer, I found this passage in Ezekiel. Can you imagine what it must have been like to be Ezekiel?! 

     God takes him out and sets him in the middle of a valley full of very dry bones and then asks him if those same bones can live. Ezekiel  says, "Lord God, You know."  I wonder if it was a reverent remark to holy God, or a shoulder shrugging," if they can it's beyond me" remark. It's moments like these that I wish I could hear tone of voice when I read my Bible. I can only imagine how impossible those bones looked scattered utterly void of life or any hope of ever having life take hold of them again, they looked... I know people who look like this. 

   People whose relationships with God were once vibrant. People who used to serve Christ with reckless abandon, but now spend their time running as far away from Him as they can. I believe we all know people who fit this description. The question is do we care or have we given up? If God were to ask us, whether or not we thought there was any hope of them having a vibrant and healthy relationship with Him again would we say "Lord God, You know." with hope? Would He hear just the slightest glimmer of faith being the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not our voice? Or...would He see our shoulders shrug, witness the discouragement on our face, and know that we had given up hope even before we could verbalize our answer to the question? 

    There are moments when I fit into the shoulder shrugging category. Perhaps you do too. Maybe like me, you've been praying for, encouraging, and running after those who are running away from Him. Still, you see no sign of change. Don't give up! Remember that God specializes in the impossible. He specializes in bringing new life out of death...just like He did with the dry bones in Ezekiel.  

     "So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.”’ So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army." (Ezekiel 37:7-10) Just when it seemed the dry bones were going to remain lifeless, God stepped in. There are two things that have caught my attention here. First, God doesn't bring them to life all at once. He makes them come together, then He adds sinews, next flesh grows, then skin, and finally He breathes into them. He could have just done it all at once. Instead, He built one thing upon another until they were once again made whole and given life. Second, God enlists Ezekiel's help. He didn't need Ezekiel to prophesy in order to bring the dry bones to life. He required it. I believe there is a lot that I can learn from this as I pray for the ones I love who are running away from God. 

   When I pray, I want God to act instantly. As months and years go by, and the prodigals I am praying for show no sign of returning it can easily appear as though God is doing nothing. The truth is that He is busy building one thing upon another until they are made whole again. See, I want the end result. I want them to enjoy a vibrant, life-giving, joy-filled, and loving relationship with Christ- just like they used to. God knows that in order for this to happen and for it to be sustainable, healing has to start at the bone level. Then it must be built upon until finally He can breathe new life in them again. What good would it do to make them whole on the outside, if they aren't whole or structurally sound on the inside? It would be no different than breathing life into those dry bones in Ezekiel but neglecting to add sinews and skin! 

  I also need to speak life just like Ezekiel spoke life. This involves a few important things. When I pray, I need to pray in faith believing that God is in the process of bringing life. If I am given the opportunity to speak anything at all to the prodigal, they must only be words that God gives me. Ezekiel only spoke what God told him to say and God's words brought life. Finally, the way I live my life needs to call out to dry bones so that they will desire life. God tells Ezekiel to say, " O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD." No one will listen to me speak the words God gives me if I am not already living them. They won't hold any weight! 

     I don't know about you, but I want my words to hold weight.  I want my relationship with Christ, my love for Him, and the way I love others to breathe life into every dry and thirsty soul that I come in contact with. People are looking for what we say to match up with what we do. If I say I follow Christ, then my words and my actions need to match His seamlessly. We live in a time when the smallest amount of hypocrisy will be used as a tool in Satan's hands to give those who are running away from God an excuse to run faster and farther. I believe that the best way to call out to dry bones to come alive, is to let Christ's life within me speak. 

    We live in a world full of very dry bones. What are we going to do about it? Are we going to give up? Or are we going to follow Christ so closely, love Him so dearly, and love others the way He loves... so effectively that our lives call out to dry bones and stir up a desire in them to come alive? Will we like Ezekiel, faithfully speak only the life giving words God gives us both in person and in prayer?  It's a tall order especially in the tough times we live in. Are you up for the challenge? Let's look ahead in faith and believe that we like Ezekiel, will see and army rise! 


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