It has certainly been a year of uncertainty, loss, fear, anxiety, and fatigue. But also it's been a year of discovery. A year of finding what you can accomplish and who walks alongside you both on earth and in Heaven. We have all experienced some level of loss. Conceding that our expectations would not be met in so many areas created resistance to change and eventual acceptance. A changed perspective might say, "I guess I'm really not in control of anything. At. All."
In many ways, this past year has reminded me of the time surrounding my divorce. Loss of expectations, unwanted circumstances, fear, and fatigue consumed me. In pandemic circumstances, I felt more equipped to lean on Jesus, yet still feeling "stuck". The need to move ahead, but uncertainty regarding how to do so.
In Ezekiel 37 God sets his servant Ezekiel down in the midst of a dry and barren valley of bones.
Ezekiel not only had to look at these bones, this appalling scene of death, but he walks back and forth among them to get the full picture. I can only imagine the deafening silence. Then the crunching sound of bones underfoot. The desolate scene representing the Jews in Babylonian captivity. Spiritually dead. Cut off and without hope (v.11)
Although God knows the answer, he asks Ezekiel,
"Son of man, can these bones live?" (ESV, v. 3a)
Dry dead bones? Like the trauma of divorce? Like an empty and broken spirit within? Like the loss of the last year sucking the energy and inertia from our lives?
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.
The dust of death. Ezekiel surely doesn't think these dry bones can live again. In the midst of the most crushing pain and grief, we don't believe our melted hearts and dried up strength will ever revive again. And yet Ezekiel answers God saying,
"O Lord God, you know." (v. 3b)
Wise words Ezekiel. As God leads Ezekiel to prophesy over the bones he says,
"Behold I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live." (v. 5)
Those dried-up bones came back to life. God knit them together with sinews and flesh. With intentionality and finality, God brought life from death.
"And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord. I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord." (v. 13-14)
God's promises to the Israelites extend to us today. He promises life to us. Knowledge of who he is. The capacity to trust that he will always do what He says.
While these words and prophecies seemed impossible to the Israelites at that time, God had a purpose for them. A plan to bring His hope to others. To show His life and power in a hopeless world. To bring life.
So pick up the pieces of 2020. The good, the bad, the painful, and the hopeful. Take a big breath and bring those dry bones back to the life God has for you!