The heat of the sun is beating upon me as I survey the valley before me. The sight is immense and it takes me a moment to grasp the severity of what is in front of me. As far as my eye can see are bones. Thousands upon thousands, or more, of bones of all shapes and sizes. It’s as if someone gathered them up and threw them at random, much like the game pick up sticks. The bones are disconnected and in pieces so that one cannot tell which set belongs with another. There are so many before me that I am unable to separate the hills of the valley from the hills of the bones.
As I begin to walk through this place, my spirit becomes overwhelmed with the feeling of great loss all around me. Lost lives, lost dreams, and lost hope. I wonder about the lives of those who are before me. What were the dreams they had before their lives were turned upside down? What plans did they have for their family before the heartache, sickness or loss came? What battles did they face? Before their lives were plundered, what hopes did they have? My thoughts go to Israel, my beloved Israel. God’s chosen people. Oh, the heartache and pain we have experienced being exiles.
I turn my focus to the Lord God, as it is by His hand that I have been brought to this place. With my full attention now upon the Lord, He asks me this question, “Son of man, can these dry bones live?”
Whenever I read God’s Word, I try to put myself in the thoughts and places of who and where I am reading. What is triggered in me and brought to my mind through my senses, are all questions I ask myself. Now a valley of dry bones, this is one which takes some contemplation. I am not a girl who likes scary movies. In fact, I steer clear of them as I will have nightmares for days. A valley of dry bones, could quite easily be the beginning of a scary movie, but in this case God is about to show us a powerful illustration of His restorative power. Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself and I don’t want to go to the end so quickly.
As I contemplate what Ezekiel may have been thinking and feeling as he surveyed the valley of dry bones before him, my attention then goes to you and me.
What are the broken places within us?
What are the broken dreams, hopes, plans that are represented in this valley of dry bones to each of us?
I am reminded of lost dreams I have experienced over the years. Seasons of being broken, letting go of what I thought life was to be, and loss of dreams and hopes I once had. I’m sure all of us can relate to this. A loss of a marriage or relationship, loss of a child, infertility, infidelity, loss of a job or ministry, betrayal of friendship, loss of loved ones are just some of the broken places these bones may represent to us. For the Israelites, these bones were of what life was to be and instead living in exile was where they ended up.
Isn’t that the truth about broken dreams? They represent what and where we thought our life should be versus where we ended up.
Over three years ago my dear friend, one of my best friends, and ministry partner in so many ways, passed away from cancer. It was a six month battle that resulted in her homecoming with Jesus. The loss of her was so great. Much of my focus at first was on her daughters, being a support for them and her grandchildren. When I finally allowed myself to feel, to sit with my grief, it was as if wave after wave came down on me. For months I cried every time I was at church. I cried at home, in the car, and yes at times in between seeing clients. Yes, counselors and pastors cry too. I realized part way through my process of grief, that I was grieving not just the loss of her and our friendship, but the dreams of ministry we had together. She was my support, visionary partner, and God often used us as a tag team in ministry.
Now, I was on my own, leaning on Jesus in a greater measure than ever before. I had to let go of it all to make room for God’s new vision and dream in my life. Let me just say, God did bring new dreams, new visions, and in that He brought together old dreams in a new way, not the way I thought they would happen.
Letting go, surrendering our dreams, hopes, plans, and letting them die is so hard.
This is where the Israelites were when Ezekiel came upon the valley of dry bones by the hand of God.
One final thought for this week, Ezekiel was brought to this place by the hand of God. The Spirit of God brought Ezekiel there. God was about to bring revelation and do a mighty work of healing and restoration not just for Ezekiel, but for all of Israel. The exiled children of God were on the dawn of restoration! We need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit working in our lives.
Where is the hand of God, the Spirit of God bringing you to right now?
What is the Holy Spirit whispering to your heart today?
I challenge you to spend time waiting on the Holy Spirit to speak to you. You might be surprised to find yourself in front of a valley of your broken dreams. If so, get ready, for God is about to do a mighty work in your life!
It’s a work of restoration and healing!
All we need to do is let go of our perceptions of our dreams and embrace God’s dreams for our lives!
1. What are the broken dreams, hopes, plans that are represented in the valley of dry bones for you today?
2. What is God asking you to let go of in this season as He prepares you for the next season?
3. Where is the hand of God, the Spirit of God bringing you to right now? What is the Holy Spirit whispering to your heart today about your life?