July 01, 2023 | Letters from the Lead Pastor by Brandon Lenhart
The LORD took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the LORD to a valley filled with bones. 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. 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 37:1–3 (NLT)
This passage from Ezekiel is very well known, and though somewhat disturbing, has powerful implications for GOD's ability to bring back to life that which was once dead and gone. The prophet Ezekiel, in the Old Testament, was not only a prophet, but also a priest, and thus, well versed in Jewish theology and thought. He prophesied during the time of exile after the Babylonians (under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar) had conquered Judah.
While in exile, GOD called men like Ezekiel to speak to GOD's people and remind them that He hadn't forgotten them. He wanted them to know that, even though it seemed like there was no hope for the future, He was still in control and would eventually restore them with new life and new purpose once again. GOD wanted to prove to them, once again, that He truly was LORD of all!
There are times in our own lives when we feel that GOD has not only left us but that there is no hope for anything beyond our current circumstances. We feel lost, hopeless, and dead inside, and believe that there is no way out. When this happens, many people believe there is no use in trying, and they give in to behavior that is not only destructive but perpetuates their "lostness." Another reaction to the feeling of hopelessness is taking one's own life. Neither of these actions produces the results of a life that GOD truly desires for us.
So, what's the solution? What does one do who finds themselves at the end of their rope, so to speak? How does a person find their way out of the pit that they're in?
The first step to leaving "the valley of dry bones" is to remember that GOD is GOD. The next step is to be patient in the waiting as He works behind the scenes to set the stage for His will to be accomplished. The final step is to act and move when GOD's Spirit acts and moves.
Though at times we may feel like empty shells (skeletons) wandering around aimlessly, GOD ultimately desires to regenerate our lifeless existence and bring us back to the Promised Land of salvation and eternal hope. No matter what we've done, how far we've gone, or how hopelessly lost we think we are, there is a GOD who loves us so much that He longs to give us abundant life through His son Jesus (John 10:10).
It's been told that there was once a brier growing in a ditch and there came along a gardener with his spade. As he dug around it and lifted it up, the brier said to himself, "What is he doing? Doesn't he know I am a worthless brier?" But the gardener took it into his garden and planted it amid his flowers, while the brier said, "What a mistake he has made planting me among these beautiful roses." Then the gardener came once more and made a slit in the brier with his sharp knife. He grafted it with a rose and lovely roses bloomed on that old brier when summer came. Then the gardener said, "Your beauty is not due to what came out but to what I put in."
Today, you may feel like a corpse laying in a valley of dry bones. GOD desires to make you whole again; to make you live again. But you cannot live again unless you are willing to allow the Holy Spirit to breathe new life into you. Submission to the Spirit's moving is the only way to experience this. It will be painful at times, as GOD grafts you into His tree of life, but it will be the most fulfilling thing you will ever submit to in your life.