Sunday, 8 January 2017

Valley of Dry Bones

Sometimes when I am worshiping at church, God will drop something into my spirit.  Most often, it is something for me, a word of encouragement that He sees me and that He is there, an exhortation to change something that is hurting me or my family or His heart, things like this happen pretty often.

Then sometimes something drops in and I know it isn't just for me, though sometimes it is for me as well. It is something he wants me to share publicly.  Many people might call it a prophetic word or inclination. Sometimes it is meant to be shared before the church body and sometimes it is meant to be shared here on my blog with all of you.

About a month ago, I was worshiping at our local church (Tri-County Worship Center in Seneca, SC, The worship team was singing the bridge of the song "Great are You Lord."  We were singing....

Our hearts will cry.
These bones will sing.
Great are You Lord.

"Great are You Lord" by All Sons and Daughters

As we sang, the Holy Spirit quickened the story of the Valley of Dry Bones from Ezekiel.  So I pulled out my phone with the handy little Bible App to read the story.  Isn't technology convenient?  You can read the story here or use your own Bible to go to Ezekiel 37.

I quietly read through the words of Ezekiel's vision.  As I read, I thought of how the story applied to my own life and realized that it is very likely that many of the people in my church and friends in my life may be having a similar experience where their life feels like a valley of dry bones.

What I saw in my mind was a valley of scattered bones...broken, picked apart by vultures, scattered everywhere, and just left there as a memorial of destruction and desolation.  I felt great sadness in my heart, for my own life and for others who may be feeling that they have also been broken by life, broken by others, or even broken by God and left out to rot and decay.  I began to grieve for those of us who feel like we have been picked apart by vultures, torn to pieces, and scattered all over a valley of death and destruction.

The music played on...
"These bones will sing. 
Great are You Lord!"

And I am crying out to God and thinking even though these bones are battered and shattered and though it feels like Habakkuk 3:17-18, I must still sing "Great are You Lord"?

17the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.  (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

In my spirit, I was overwhelmed and overcome with a newfound resolution to rejoice and be joyful in God in spite of my current circumstances. My spirit just wanted to shout out, "Come on church, I know your bones feel scattered and dry, but He is great. Let us praise Him!"

I went back and read the Ezekiel story again.  God asked Ezekiel, "Can these dry bones live?"  When we are in the Valley of Dry Bones....when we are the dry bones, we feel like we can't live.  We feel hopeless just like Israel, "our bones are dried up and our hope is lost, we are indeed cut off."

Thankfully, like Israel in this story, God doesn't leave us there hopeless and dried up.  He said to Israel and is saying to you and me, "I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people.  And I will bring you into the land of Israel.  And you shall know I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you from your graves...I will put my spirit within you and you shall live and I will place you in your own land.  Then you shall know that I am the Lord, I have spoken, and I will do it."

There is nothing in this world like being raised from the dead.  I have never been physically dead, but I have certainly felt spiritually and emotionally dead many times. Losing a loved one, changes in life, jobs, marriage troubles, wayward children, parenting challenges, addictions, troubled relationships can all leave us feeling dead and dry, but when Jesus comes and tells your dry bones to live (or asks you to tell your dry bones to live,) something changes inside.

God told Ezekial to prophesy to the bones. Sometimes, we have to speak to ourselves like David did in Psalm 43:5.

 5Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

We have to tell the broken, scattered, dry bones to come together and function again.  Hard times in life knock us down, but it is never God's intention to leave us broken and useless in a wasteland.  If you find yourself in a place where you feel like those bones, prophesy to your life and tell your bones to live.

Ezekiel spoke to the bones and there was a rattling and the bones came together bone to its bone.  I would have freaked out. Rattling bones coming together before my eyes and joining together by my words!  (Well God's words spoken through me I guess, but still!) Those desolate bones came together. At least now, those bones could function, right?  They were not just lying around in waste.

I must confess that in my life at the moment, my dry bones might be pretty content to be out of the wasteland and to just function. Functioning would be a welcome improvement and would be good enough for me.

Well, thank God that He had a better plan for those bones in the valley than to just function. Thank God that he has a better plan for you and me than for our bones just to function too.


A functioning skeleton can walk I guess, but in this Ezekiel story, God did not stop there.  Ezekiel said sinews formed on the bones and flesh came on them.  That's a lot better than a funky looking skeleton walking.  These bones in Ezekiel even started looking normal, whole, healed even.  All the bones gathered and assembled, muscles working, skin formed.  Hallelujah! It's a miracle.

I've experienced this.  Have you?  It is a miracle and most of us would be content and happy to stop there, but God isn't finished with just functioning.  He isn't even finished with us looking whole.  He wants to breathe His breath into us.

God wants better than to just see us functioning.  He wants to heal us completely and that means more than just functioning and looking normal on the outside. He wants us whole and restored on the inside.

In Ezekiel's experience, the bones rattled and came together with sinews and flesh, but there was no breath in them.  Our lives can sometimes feel this way.  We function, we look normal to everyone around us, but inside we find it difficult to breathe.  We feel like life has knocked the breath out of us.


Have you ever fallen or been hit and had the wind knocked out of you?

I remember a middle school basketball game years ago.  Yes, this short little mama played basketball, and I think I was pretty good. Not a star, but a pretty decent guard and an even better defender.  The other team had a player who, compared to me at the time, was a giant.  I know memory tends to exaggerate (and realize I'm still only 5'2" full grown) but she was close to 6 foot tall and weighed at least 150 pounds (probably more). I maybe weighed 85 soaking wet and holding a bag of bricks. Our team shot the ball.  She was in the middle of the paint and went up to get the rebound.  I was behind her, ready to steal as soon as she turned around.

Well, she turned around with her elbows out. Her elbows were right at the level of my throat and that is exactly where her elbow landed.  It hurt, but I thought it was no big deal.  I turned around to shake it off and get down court.  I quickly turned around....took a breath....but no air came into my lungs.  I tried...nothing. Cue the throat grabbing followed by falling to my knees followed by coaches (and probably my mom) running out to check on me.

Fortunately, the breathless trauma passed quickly.  I don't think I passed out.  I remember being told to stay calm and relax.  I remember trying, but it is hard not to panic when you can't catch your breath.  

After a few minutes, my breathing returned to normal and I was able, after a rest, to get back in the game and life went on as normal.  Sometimes, life knocks you hard you can't breathe.  Usually, we can pause for a few, wait a while, and then get back in the game.  Other times, life takes your breath away completely and you end up dead in the Valley of Dry Bones.  Thankfully, you don't have to stay there.

Ezekiel 37:9
Then He (God) said to Ezekiel,  "Prophesy to the Breath. Say to the breath, "Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds o breath and breathe on these slain that they may live."

Sometimes we have to use our mouths and speak life to ourselves or those we love.  We can't settle nor let the ones we love settle with living life breathless.  We have to let God's breath, His life, His hope, come from the four winds and breathe on us.  There are many times you may not feel it, but you have to speak out in faith and command life to come...not just functional life, but abundant life.  I think there are times we say we are waiting for God to come and fix something when He is waiting for us to open our mouths and command life to come forth.

Look what happened when Ezekiel spoke!  Breath came into the bones along with the sinew and flesh, and the dry bones lived...not functioned...not looked ok...they LIVED! They stood on their feet an exceeding great army.

"To Our God" by Bethel
"An army of dry bones is starting to rise."

There is an army God wants to raise up.  Too many of His soldiers are in the grave or living as skeletons, barely functioning, or looking OK on the outside but feeling lifeless on the inside.  God wants to put His Spirit within His people and raise them from their graves.  When God raises you from a place of brokenness, dead and rotting, picked apart, and scattered by vultures, you know beyond a doubt that He is LORD.  When we have experienced His resurrection and we know in a new way who He is, we become His army ready to push back the kingdom of darkness in not only our own lives but in the lives of others.  When we finally grasp this revelation, He will place us in places and situations where can make a difference by sharing what we have learned with others.

Here is the catch, we have to start opening our mouths and start speaking life.  Do you feel like you are the dry bones in Ezekiel's valley?  Do you know someone who is in their own Valley of Death?  Maybe a child, a co-worker, a relative or friend or perhaps there is a situation that feels dead, lifeless, and hopeless?  Perhaps the situation you are in feels hopeless-- a sickness, a broken relationship, financial difficulties?

Are you ready to look at those dead, dry bones and tell them to live?  Don't just tell them to come together and function or to look good, but tell them to rattle and come to life, whole and filled with the breath of God!

Are you ready to raise the dead and build an army for Christ?  You may be the prophetic voice God wants to use in someone's life or someone's situation. My voice may be the prophetic voice calling you to raise up from the grave! I don't have to stay the way I am. You don't have to stay the way you are! We do not have to stay broken and scattered. We can be gathered, mended and whole and full of the breath of God.  (Yes those are song lyrics...shocker!)

"Broken Vessels" by Hillsong

I might have ignored this message on that Sunday morning.  I might have let it go, but then, the following Sunday at church, all of the songs were about God breathing on us.  I'm convinced that God is wanting to breathe His breath into our dry bones and fully restore us. As I sat there listening to the songs, I asked God about my own dry bones.

Personally, many times, the year 2016 left me feeling broken, dry, scattered, abandoned, and breathless.  My family and I left a ministry position that we loved in a city that we loved with people that we loved.  In fact, we left vocational ministry completely.  It's a long story that I won't go into here, but we lived in two different cities for almost 6 months because financially it was our only choice.  I had a miscarriage.  When we all moved back in together, it was strange.  The new town we now live in is small.  The culture is different.  The people are different.  The new church we are in is different from the Every Nation family that I have been apart of for 21 years.  Not bad, just different. I've felt out of place.  My heart has been broken.  I have at times felt abandoned and left out to rot and be picked apart by vultures of loneliness, depression, contempt, anger, and unforgiveness...just to name a few.

I feel God is telling me that it's time to speak to my dry bones and tell them to live again.  Even though I often feel dry and like hope is lost, I am making the choice to open my mouth and command these bones to LIVE.  Not to function, not to look ok to the world but feel lifeless inside, but to truly LIVE.

I hear the bones rattling.  I see them coming together and sinews and flesh coming on them, and I feel the breath of God coming into my lungs and giving me new hope and new life.


And now, I'm speaking to the bones I see around me.  To the people around me and to the situations I see around me that seem hopeless. I'm not leaving any bones in a valley of desolation and destruction. I'm commanding them to LIVE.

I'm challenging you to LIVE and to speak out to the dry bones around you as well.  I'm commanding you to LIVE and know that God is the Lord!  He raises the dead from their graves and He can raise you and any hopeless situations you are facing.  He wants your dry bones to LIVE. You may just need to open up your mouth and speak it forth!

Can we do it together?  Can we be whole and filled with the breath of God? Can we raise up an army of dry bones that have been fully restored and are ready to change the world for Christ? Can we call out to dry bones, "Come Alive"?  We can! In fact, this is God's heart and His desire for us.  We just need to agree with Him and speak it forth!  I'm up for the challenge, are you?

"Come Alive" by Lauren Daigle


I hope reading this encourages you to know God more.  If I can pray for you in any way, please feel free to contact me at