Create by: Hungsu Lim December 17, 2015 at 1:45 pm
[Advent Devotion] Day 16 “Dry Bones”
“He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”” (Ezekiel 37:3 NIV)
As I was standing in the sanctuary, Marsha took me aside and reassured me that nothing was going to change at this church. “It has been this way for the last twenty-five years, and it will be this way for the next,” she said. All of my youthful optimism was useless for Marsha. She was certain that things just were not going to change. Anger, frustration, and determination began to well up inside me. I thought, I’ll show her! I can do this! God can do this! We will change! Of course, I took some of what Marsha had to say personally; but more than feeling hurt, I felt embarrassed for God.
“God, don’t these folks believe that you can do something about their situation?” I prayed. “Where is their faith? What about their trust?”
For months I experienced the hardening nature of disbelief—not just Marsha’s disbelief but mine. Soon my optimism turned into frustration, and I began to argue with God: “Is this all you are giving me to work with? What am I supposed to do with people who don’t want to change? Are you sure I am supposed to stay here?”
I felt pretty self-righteous in my anger, but I quickly realized I was not angry with the people. No, I was angry with God! I wanted different circumstances—a different setting—but all I could see was dry bones.
When Ezekiel had his vision in the valley of dry bones, he too did not see much hope. When asked, “Can these bones live?” he replied (perhaps with a hint of sarcasm), “Lord, you alone know.” I totally can relate to that response! I would have said it this way: “I do not know if it is possible, God. You know everything, so you tell me: is it possible for these people to change?” In the middle of a vast valley of death, Ezekiel could not see what God saw—the possibility for new life. Honestly, neither could I.
I needed God to open my eyes and help me see the potential in the seemingly dry bones in front of me. I also needed to see the dryness in my own life. “Those people” were not the only ones experiencing spiritual death. I was missing one key ingredient to spiritual revitalization—the very breath of God. No matter how determined, strategic, and focused I was in changing the church’s culture, I was wasting my time without the breath of God, the Holy Spirit.
The funny thing about the movement of the Spirit is that it doesn’t just transform the people around us; it transforms us. We have to change too. I needed God to help me see what God saw in the people around me.
Instead of seeing the Marshas of the world as dry bones, I began to see them as children of God—people with a holy purpose. I began to believe that God was going to raise up a spiritual army in our church, and that God would use the Marshas of the church to do it. That’s just what happened, and in the process God opened my eyes to the power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of everyone.
Can these dry bones live? You bet they can!
PRAYER: God, pour out your Holy Spirit on us—on me. Even though I see a valley of dry bones, open my eyes and heart to the potential of new life. Help me to name everyone I encounter “child of God” instead of dry bones; in Jesus’ name. Amen.
(from “SENT: Devotion” Week 4 – Jesus Brings New Life by Rachel Billups)
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