The uncertainty continues…we have definitely reached a time of the unknown. With the announcement of the stay order that begins tomorrow afternoon, it brings an extra level of awareness to the seriousness of our situation. I am grateful for the opportunity to worship with you through online means. It may not be the same, but we are able to worship a Holy God from where we are because he is with us in our worship…he inhabits the praises of his people…may he inhabit our praises today.
Since everything is so unusual, it can be a bit disheartening. We tend to lose our perspective when we are constantly seeing four walls or our own property…when all we hear about is the number of people with the virus or how quickly it has spread…when we see the stores empty that once were overflowing…and when we are not able to interact with others the way we always have. These tend to bring us down, distort what is going on, and make us fall to the situation. But I want you to hear today that there is hope. There is life. There is joy. Just when you think it is the end…God is not done yet. He is still working. And God sees a completely different perspective…he doesn’t rely on the news to get the facts, he doesn’t need the rumors to know what is going on…he is not afraid of the situation…and he isn’t done yet.
When I think of God seeing things completely different than we do, I am instantly pulled to the passage in Ezekiel…the one that most of us know well. It is a passage that has been spoken about, taught, and continues to be an interesting perspective to a very dire situation…actually a completely hopeless situation if we are honest. And I think it speaks so very loudly to us today.
Ezekiel 37:1-5, “37:1 The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.
37:2 He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry.
37:3 He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.”
37:4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
37:5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.”
I will cause breath to enter you and you shall live. It is a picture that most of us can only imagine. The driest of dry…nothing but a barren landscape of bones…dry bones deep in a valley…bones that have lost their usefulness…bones that are becoming a part of the land as they lay there having sand blown over them…to be an archeological find one day for someone…the dryness of the situation gives an overwhelming feeling of loss, of finality…this is the end. In this landscape, there is nothing to look forward to…nothing to reach for…a whole land of nothingness…it is a sad and beyond desperate situation. It leaves a feel there is no more.
But that is not what happens. That is not the reality of the situation. That is the perspective of the viewer. Ezekiel looks out and sees hopelessness…he sees despair…he sees that there is nothing separate or collectively in these array of bones. What he doesn’t understand just yet is that God is in the midst of the bones…and when God is in the middle of something…things can change. It is not the end when God is a part of it. What God saw and what Ezekiel saw were not the same thing.
God asked Ezekiel to prophesy over the bones…to hear the word of God. And God says to the bones…I will give you breath and life…I will breathe life into you…God is not done with these bones just yet. And that is what happens…God breathes life and those bones do live. In the scripture, we are told in verse 11, “37:11 Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’”
We are reminded that God is speaking to the hopelessness of his people. He is speaking to the desperate situation that they have found themselves in. God is speaking to them in their most difficult places…and he is speaking life. He is speaking hope. He is speaking a future. God is not done with Israel and God is not done with us yet either.
God breathes life…and it is good. His breath revives even the most dry, desolate places. His spirit ignites even the most hopeless lives. God is not done yet. God can breathe life into our most hopeless places as well. He is speaking hope into your life and you may not even notice because all you see are dry bones. God sees an army rising up…you see an archeological dig. God has plans that you haven’t even seen yet. God has plans you can’t even imagine. It doesn’t mean it will be easy or quick or according to your plans. But it does mean when he breathes life, it is good.
I can almost feel God breathing life into our world when I feel the gentle breeze of a spring morning. I feel like God is breathing life when I hear of a new birth or participate in a beautiful wedding of a couple focused on God and each other. I feel God breathing life when I hear of someone recovering from surgery or making it through one more round of chemo. I feel God breathing life when people are feeding each other and sharing their resources and supporting one another in an otherwise stressful difficult situation. I see God breathing life when we do not let physical separation hold us back from worship. God is breathing life into our world…may our dry bones live.
I do know there are so many that are hurting…so many that are scared…there are those grieving losses that are unimaginable…there are those that are dealing with deep depression and insecurity…those are those that are unsafe in their own homes and this just magnifies that…I know there are those that are dealing with health issues that cause great pain and anxiety…I am not dismissing or ignoring you. I hear that you feel the dry bones. I get that you don’t feel the breath of life because you are in the valley of death. I hear your struggle and your pain. This separation for so many is one of the most painful and difficult times of your life…I hear you…and so does God. He hears your struggles…he feels your pain…and while I may not be able to understand…God does. I pray that he breathes on you in a mighty way today. My prayer is that you find hope, even if it just a glimmer, and you are reminded that God is breathing life into your situation.
Friends…I pray that you feel God breathing life today…that you feel his presence…that you are guided by his love…that you are revived by his hope…and that you are reminded, you are not alone. He has not left you. May these dry bones life…Breathe life God…Breathe life.