I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.
The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” - Ezekiel 37:1-4
As we continue in this Lenten journey through the desert wilderness, I am reminded of the prophet, Ezekiel, in Chapter 37. The people of Israel have lost all hope. Because of many things that happened to them – war, exile, their own turning from God – they were (metaphorically) like heaps of dry bones, piled up in a desert-like grave. There was nothing left of them but bones that looked like they would just disintegrate any moment.
In a vision, the Lord took Ezekiel to this place to see all this hopeless devastation and asks Ezekiel, “Can these bones live?” I imagine the prophet shaking his head and thinking “No way!”
But Ezekiel was smarter than that and replied to God, “You alone know, Lord.” (Or I interpret it as God only knows!)
And in this vision, God tells Ezekiel to preach to the bones and God’s breath goes out over the bones and they begin to form flesh and have breath. They come alive!
And God says, “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.’”
The season of Lent is a time set aside to reflect on our own spiritual dryness. There are so many situations that we find ourselves in, and without even realizing it, we begin to feel that dryness. Sometimes it gets so bad we discover we have lost our hopefulness. We ache for the joy of living to return. Deep grief over the death of a loved one, divorce, a serious illness, broken relationships, regrets about our own bad choices in life, or our sinful turning away from God – all these, and more, can lead us into the dry desert where we are barely able to breathe, where we languish and long for renewal.
Inside, our souls are crying out, “Can these bones live?”
C.S. Lewis said “One road leads home and a thousand roads lead into the wilderness.”
I think it is so good that, once a year, we observe the season of Lent because in that past year there often seems to have been a thousand roads that have led us into the wilderness. Our hope is that journeying through this time of desert reflection, we can find that one road that leads to home, which is God, once again.
In the Lenten desert our dry spirits thirst; we search for that cool, refreshing spring that flows cold and sweet, that satisfies our thirst. The work of Lent is to be still, to sit with our thirst, our uncomfortableness, to allow our minds to take an honest look at where we’ve been, and to see which of those thousand roads led us to this wilderness place. Our task is to ask the Spirit of God to move over us and give us life again – new life, joy, even in the midst of whatever pain we might be experiencing; to give us a newfound purpose; and to fill us up with the very breath of God so we know we are on the road that leads to home and hope once again.
I pray you are taking the time to reflect, to breathe out the spiritual dryness you may be experiencing and to breathe in the reviving breath of the Spirit of God, who loves you beyond all measure. I pray you are reading the living Word of God, opening your hearts to its truths and allowing it to renew your spirit, as it did the dry bones of Israel.
This song, titled Spirit Song, is sung by a former group by that same title: Scott York, Cindy Powell and Craig Powell from Cindy Powell Ministries.
May you know God’s great love for you this day and may your spirit be alive with blessings and joy.