Mountains were your home just yesterday. The sky was dazzlingly bright and you soared like an eagle to heights beyond your comprehension, the wind on your cheeks and a laugh in your throat and a view of the whole wide world down below you. The praise seemed to bubble from your lips and your soul worshipped freely, for who could resist a life alongside such an awesome and powerful God? Peace permeated your very essence. You were chosen and held, loved and secure.
These memories are almost mocking now. They seem echoes of flower and moon and song, remnants of hazy dreams which violently clash with your present reality. And here is the reality: A valley of bones, dried beyond measure and lying in a parched ground. Destruction as far as the eye can see, dust clogging your arteries and vision blurring with despair. Sin and death and silence. You’ve never felt a silence quite so loud as this, a silence weaving in and out of rotting skulls that lay decaying, a silence rendering multitudes hauntingly wordless in the scorched heat.
Can these bones live?
When we are faced with valleys in our life, when the anguish of this world and of our own sin crush us to our breaking point, is the idea of hope even conceivable?
“Then he said to me, “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)
How often do we forget this? How often do we forget that our Lord is more powerful than our weakness, more powerful than the attacks of the enemy, more powerful than sin and death and doubt and fear and man? We parrot out words but forget in our hearts who the Lord is. That He is the one who he says he is, that he makes life out of nothing and works all things for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28), that he has conquered death and is risen and loves us not for what we did or who we are but for who He is. Alpha and Omega, beginning and ending, the savior and light of the world we can have full access to.
“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. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.” -Ezekiel 37: 7-8 (NIV)
Perhaps you are not bones left wasting in a valley, but you remain only tendons and flesh and skin. You move and walk and talk but there is no life within you. I am here to tell you that the Lord can and will restore you. He will revive you from within and breathe his Spirit into you to give you new life, to tell new stories and conquer new mountains together.
And now, suddenly! There is a loud sound, the sound of revival and broken chains and bones stirring to life as words are spoken and testimonies are shared and the dawn of a new age begins.
“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.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.” -Ezekiel 37: 9-10 (NIV)
How beautiful, how earth-shattering and explosively glorious is the hope which the Lord hands us. This is not the cheap, vain or naïve hope offered by the world but a hope which does not put us to shame (Romans 5:5). It does not put us to shame because no matter how hard it is to understand, God loves us and has poured his Spirit into us, giving us the power to overcome. He loves us even when we can not love ourselves. He wants us even when we do not want ourselves. This hope that we have in God is based on Him, not on our own capacity or strength, so we can therefore hold it in steady confidence. Betting on God has a 100% success rate (although your idea of success might be different than his, his idea is also always right). Hoping in God even in the darkest of valleys is an expression of faith, and that faith is counted to us as righteousness. It pleases the Lord! What an amazing privilege, being able to please the creator of the universe. But even when our faith is weak, when we are trembling on the edge of the cliff and struggling to keep afloat, the good news is that we are not alone. God has bestowed his Spirit upon us to guide our paths and comb out the frantic knots in our minds, no matter how messy.
“Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lordsays: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’” -Ezekiel 37: 9-10 (NIV)