I didn't think dry bones and a passage in Ezekiel would be what rocked my world this summer. Not really at all, actually. But, sometimes, God repeatedly opens my eyes and my heart to something He's trying to show me. This summer, it's been this passage in Ezekiel. Give it a look.
The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
Cool, right? Ever since Passion 2013 back in January and Chris Tomlin's new CD Burning Lights, this passage has been repeatedly running through my head courtesy of his song "Awake My Soul." Go take a listen, it's good. Lecrae raps that Ezekiel passage in a way that just gets you really hyped up, trust me.
So this passage has been one that I've repeatedly read, sung, and studied this summer. It's been applicable. It's been real. It's been God speaking into the depths of my soul. It's been a summer of a lot of transitions, a lot of hard things, a lot of discouragement and obstacles. It's been a summer where I've felt a lot like dry bones. I've felt defeated and disconnected from God and from community. I've felt like I lost my identity and everything that made me Rachel. Every time this passage has come up, I've related so deeply to feeling lifeless and brittle like those bones in that desolate valley.
This summer's big event was a big (like fifteen weeks later and I'm still recovering kind of big) knee surgery. Talk about dry bones... I'm telling ya, this passage really hits home with me.
I've been fighting all summer after the biggest surgery of my life to regain my strength and build my muscles back from being cut and realigned and worked on. My strength was taken from my leg in that surgery, and all my muscles in my leg atrophied in the weeks that followed as I was unable to walk or work on it at all. If you want to feel lifeless, try being stuck on a couch with a leg that doesn't work while on heavy pain meds for weeks on end. You'll feel pretty much like a dead vegetable. It's not fun. It messes with your head and your heart in the weirdest of ways. It made me feel weak and incapable, and I was. I was dead bones in a lifeless valley of a body that wasn't doing what it was meant to do.
So many times during this recovery process, I've found myself asking God, "Can my strength really come back? Can my knee be okay again? Can I run again for the first time in over 5 years? Can I get my normal body and activity back? Can I ever even climb up a flight of stairs normally, I mean COME ON."
At the heart of it all, I was asking God what He asked in this passage-- "Can these bones live?" Really, God, can they? I'm not so sure.
Every time I read through this passage, I've felt a little bit of life come back to my bones, I've felt breath come back to my lungs, and I've come a little more alive. I've felt the Spirit move in my soul that felt dead, and I felt Him stirring up life, breathing into me, awakening me. He didn't just heal my body, put skin and tendons back on the bones and leave them like that. He's been healing my physical body, and then He's been breathing his true breath of life into my soul, too. That's freaking awesome, and I'm humbled and in awe that my God not only can do that, but has been doing it.
David Dwight, in the middle of a sermon series on God's Questions, talked about this passage, too. He talked about how these people's hearts had wandered from God. They were defeated, dispersed, they had no hope, and no identity. Sounds a lot like how I felt for a lot of this summer.
But there is so much hope in this. So much life came from that valley, those dry bones. Something David said in his sermon resonated with me: like Matthew 19:26 says, "with God all things are possible." It doesn't mean that He will just miraculously relive us of all bad circumstances-- He will remake us. He promises that He will make hardships a vineyard of life, not a valley of death.
SO good. Vineyards of life. Not valleys of death. I love that. The hardships of this summer are bringing me to life, to hope, to identity in Him alone.
Abba, thank you for bringing life to the deadness in my heart and my soul and my spirit and even my body this summer. Thank you for remaking me through the hardships. Thank you for not taking the hardships away, even though I know I wanted that so many times. Thank you for being life; real, true, fulfilling, abundant life. Thank you for being hope. Thank you for being healing. Thank you for leading me to more than I could see for myself. Thank you for giving me identity as your beloved. Thanks for bringing my dead bones to life.