Routine living seems to prevent boredom by bouncing us from elevated levels of pleasure and inspiration to a valley filled with dry bones. We experienced this dual moment of pleasure and pain Sunday evening, May 1, 2011. We were entertained and inspired by a group of over two-dozen beautiful wholesome young people who call themselves The Atchison Area SINGsation. Their professional-quality presentation deserved and received a lengthy standing ovation.
While basking in the inspiration of the performance, we glanced at the audience. We saw people who were smiling, clapping and enjoying the performance, that we knew were suffering from deep personal loss and grief. This shows the duplicity that many people live with constantly.
While enjoying this delightful evening, we were praying for many of our friends and loved ones who were in life-threatening and grieving situations. Suffering people can enjoy the highly inspiring times and also relate to the prophet Ezekiel as he describes about his vision of the valley of dry bones.
Ezekiel’s world was a total chaos. The Temple had been destroyed. The most faithful worshipers of Yahweh were exiled in a foreign land. Israelite nationalism had come to an abrupt end. The promises of Yahweh seemed to have been shattered. Hopelessness and despair were rampant.
Into that depressing situation God gave Ezekiel a vision of hope, recovery, renewal and new beginnings for the nation. God took Ezekiel to a dry desert valley and had him walk through thousands of very dry and disconnected human bones. There in that desolation God told Ezekiel, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 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.’” (Ezekiel 37: 4-6. NIV)
This scene describes totally disconnected skeletons. The average human skeleton has 206 bones. If there were only 10 skeletons that would total 2,060 separate bones to be connected. These bones represented death, separation, disunity and hopelessness that Ezekiel was feeling about his nation.
Many who read these words may feel that you are right in the middle of your own valley of despair. Hopefully you will be encouraged to believe that God is with you in your personal struggles.
We have just celebrated the resurrection of Jesus from his personal death and burial. God is the God of life and true living. Jesus went through the valley of death and conquered it for all who will let him lead us out of our dry valley.
It is interesting to note that after the bones were connected and flesh covered everything that there was no life. The bodies stood like statues. Then God sent his Spirit to breathe life into them. This may be clue as to why many people continue to live in a depressed state. Perhaps they have never let God breathe the breath of hope, life and renewal into them. God desires that every Christian will be able to live a victorious life.
The Apostle Paul was able to say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” He could say this because he had permitted Jesus to take charge of every problem that he faced. Paul was mocked, beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked and stoned. He did not have super human strength. He did have the ability to surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit.
May we surrender to God’s power to raise us up from our valley of dry bones.