Do you wonder, like I did, whether or not God would be interested at all in restoring you? I figured I had blown it and that was the end of that. I was a mess. Fit for the junk pile.
One of the weird pictures given to a prophet is so meaningful to me. About 7 years ago God used it to answer my question. Yes, He would restore me. I’m pretty sure the same answer applies for you. Not just restore me but restore my hope and my future.
The LORD took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the LORD to a valley filled with bones. 2 He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Ezekiel 37:1-2 (NLT2)
Very dry bones scattered all over the valley, like fragmented skeletons of soldiers that had been sliced and diced by enemy swords, now old and dried out. What exactly do they picture? Bones are the substance of who we are. (Strongs 6106). “Dried out” refers to “shame, confusion, disappointment.” (Strongs 3001, 3002) They pictured me. Perhaps they picture you. Consumed with shame. Overwhelmed with confusion. Deeply disappointed in the outcomes we see.
Dry bones can be individuals who feel they are utterly worthless. Or family situations that seem hopeless no matter how much you’ve prayed and believed God for change. Your ministry or dream that seems illusive can be dry bones. Perhaps they represent your church that you’ve prayed for over many years. Maybe your job that’s still stuck in dead-end. Even our nation, divided as it is right now.
We see hopelessness. And we are confused and disappointed.
Can dry bones live again?
The Lord had the nerve to ask the prophet a question. In that confused, disappointed, shame-filled, seemingly hopeless situation God asks him if the bones can live.
Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?” “O Sovereign LORD,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.” Ezekiel 37:3 (NLT2)
Are you kidding, God? I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed. I’ve tried so hard to be different. I want to be healed. I want my family to be free. I’ve struggled to accomplish what You created me to accomplish. I’ve prayed and prayed for my church to experience revival. My nation to be whole. You name it.
After all this, God wants to know if I think the bones can live? I’ve come to the end. I’m not sure at all anymore.
The prophet respectfully answered, “O Lord, only you know.” Indeed, the Lord does know.
The Lord then gave the prophet three separate things to speak that would bring the bones back to life. God’s words have creative power so yes, the bones did live again. Likewise, when God gives us the words to speak, they have the power to create new things. God also gives us Words that have life and bring our seeming hopeless messes back to life, promises that have power and life inside our hearts and minds. But that part of the picture isn’t my focus.
I’m wondering why would God even do that? Why would He restore dry bones to life again? Why not leave the dead in peace?
So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army. 11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’ 12 Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the LORD. 14 I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the LORD has spoken!’” Ezekiel 37:10-14 (NLT2)
How does God respond when we feel like all hope is gone?
We believe we have nothing at all to offer Him. We conclude we are broken beyond repair, our family can never be whole, our church will never experience God moving in a powerful way and people coming to know God’s love for them, our business will not flourish again, we’ll never get anywhere at work. Our calling and ministry seems to go nowhere. Our nation seems doomed. Hopeless. Failure.
Yet God responds in love and power that restores life and hope.
God will open the graves of our exile and cause us to rise again and bring us back to the land. We will live again and see that what God speaks, God does.
Graves of Exile
What does all that mean? What are the graves of exile for our lives?
Israel had been taken captive and exiled in a foreign land for ongoing failure to trust and obey God. They were removed from what God originally planned for them. They observed what was around them personally and as a nation and concluded they were finished and all hope was gone.
We can feel dead and buried under all the hopelessness. Finished. We may not be exiled to a foreign country but we are moved far away from God when we come to a point where we believe we are something other than what God says we are, when we doubt prayer can be answered, when we conclude His love can no longer reach us.
Yet that is exactly where God comes to us. In our grave of exile. And then He brings us back again to the place He had originally prepared for us. Yes, God is eagerly waiting to restore us and give us life again. To heal us. To make our family whole. To bring about the dream and ministry. To empower and enliven us in our churches again. To heal our nation. (photo via pixabay)
Again, His Spirit will be in us, bringing God-life. We will live and find His purpose for our lives again. We will know that what He spoke, He will do.
Yes, the Lord has spoken! His words are creative power in our lives.
Yes, the Lord eagerly waits to restore life and wholeness to you.
Carol Boggess, author and speaker
Rivers – A Journey of Restoration From Broken to Breakthrough and God Sees Broken Hearts