Escaping the Valley of Dry Bones
Awhile back, a bewildered soul asked readers at Answers.Yahoo.com, “Why do I feel incomplete?” Similar to Solomon in Ecclesiastes, he wrote:
“I have everything. My parents are rich. I have dozens of loyal, dedicated, friends who follow my every order. I have love. I have the most recent phones. I have a flat screen in my room, a drum set, everything. I have everything I could want, but something is missing. I feel hallow.
“When I was walking around the mall with my friends, we saw a homeless man, and he was begging for some dimes. My friends laughed at him. I did, too, but I felt like trash afterward.
“I know something isn’t there. What is it? What is missing?”
Apparently, after thinking it over a bit, he returned to post two updates.
Update 1: “I am a spoiled (insert expletive). I need to know why I feel empty, though.”
Update 2: “I do have a girlfriend.”
Welcome to the Valley of Dry Bones! Three thousand years ago, it was another resident of that place who penned these mournful words: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer” (Ps. 32:3-4).
The prophet Ezekiel once visited that still valley and beheld its horde of inhabitants. The question God posed to him then is the same question anyone who ever has spent time there has wondered, “Can these bones live?” Everything about that valley suggests the answer to be an emphatic no! However, Ezekiel, knowing a thing or two about Him who asked the question, judiciously replied, “O Lord God, you know.”
What God said next might strike you as about the most pointless thing He could have told Ezekiel to do under the circumstances. “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord.’” How do you suppose they were supposed to do that? They had no ears! Yet, the prophet did as he was told, and as he would later testify, “The breath came unto them, and they lived and stood on their feet.”
It’s a familiar story for many of us today, and in years past was a favorite of our African-American brothers and sisters for reasons that are obvious when you understand the point of the vision. Israel was a broken nation. Her bones were scattered from Palestine to Assyria, from Egypt to Babylon. What hope did she have of being made whole again, of going home? It’s that question the vision answers. God would intervene, in time returning everyone and everything to its rightful place. It was a hopeful vision—a vision you can claim for yourself—but don’t overlook two important details in our text.
The Appearance of Life
At Ezekiel’s command, things started happening. There was a sound, a rattling, as bones began reassembling themselves. Then muscles, tendons and flesh appeared. There was the appearance of life but no breath.
Don’t mistake activity for life. Don’t let appearances fool you. Laodicea may boast of wealth, health and self-sufficiency, but she’s wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked (Rev. 3:17). A do-it-yourself resurrection is no resurrection at all. You might as well shake the pieces in the box and hope the jigsaw puzzle will come out whole as to think you can pull your life together on your own. You may succeed at creating the appearance of life, but Frankenstein’s monster will have no breath.
The Spirit of Life
There is no breath until God’s Spirit comes (Eze. 37:14). As He breathed into Adam, transforming him into a living soul, so must He breathe into your dry bones if you’re truly to live. The entrance of the Spirit brings life, making broken people whole!
Don’t let the Valley of Dry Bones become your graveyard. Having been exalted to the Father’s right hand and having received the promised Spirit, Jesus is ready to pour His life-giving, soul-mending Spirit into you (Acts 2:33).