These bones are My daughter, Karina. She says, “My bones are dried up and my hope is gone; I am cut off.” This is what God says: “My daughter, I am going to open your grave and bring you up from it; I will bring you back to your home. Then you, My daughter, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your grave and bring you up from it. I will put My Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own place. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it.”
I wrote these words in my journal during a particularly rough day. Ezekiel 37 happened to be in my reading for that day and I wondered what it would be like to put my name in the passage, to put myself in the valley of dry bones. It seemed appropriate, really. For quite awhile I felt like I was in the depths of a grave. I was dying spiritually. I often referred to it as darkness or a pit. Months ago, I started meditating on Psalm 86, particularly verses 11-13, “Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.” It would take another post entirely to explain why I need this whole passage but for now you just need to know that somehow in the depths of my pit, I started to believe that God would do this for me. I believed that delivering me from the depths of my grave was how He planned to restore me.
Back to the dry bones. Believing that God would restore me from the darkness has not been easy. Some days the light seems very dim. I wrote my name into the valley of dry bones on a day when nothing seemed to be going right. Then I decided to read back through my journal. I thought that reading about what God had been doing in my life would help me feel better. It’s not a coincidence that when I got to March 4, my birthday, my jaw dropped at what I saw.
On March 1, I wrote out Song of Songs 8:6-7, “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.” I remember being struck by the phrase “love is as strong as death” and a tiny spark of belief lit that God would use His love to deliver me from my spiritual death. That day, I eeked out a prayer that He would seal me onto His heart and that He would seal Himself onto my heart. I thanked Him for His jealous love that has so relentlessly pursued me even in the darkness, my grave. My prayer that day was one of desperation, wanting to believe that God would do this for me but doubting it could be possible. And the next day my journal entry was perhaps my most hopeless to date. I had prayed deliverance from the grave over myself on the previous day but I spoke hopelessness and death on the next. I poured out my angry heart to God and I commented that it seemed useless to even bother writing because it wouldn’t matter and my faith was wasted anyway.
So you can imagine my astonishment when my next entry was sermon notes from March 4 and the first note said, “Why this waste?” The sermon was about Mary pouring perfume on Jesus’ feet and wiping them with her hair (John 12). At the time of this sermon, I was completely unaware of the connection to my life it would have. I had just basically written that same question about my life as I poured out my heart at Jesus’ feet. Why this wasted life? And on the anniversary of the day God gave me this life, He planted another seed, the growth from which I would only see more than a month later, the day I let God breathe life over my dry bones. I continued to read the next note in the sermon and it said, “At a moment of life and death, the pouring out is not extravagant.” Whoa. I had just been at a moment of life and death two days prior and had expressed that I didn’t know why I bothered pouring out. And the next note, “Follow Jesus because of what you get out of it or because you love Him? Love is never wasted.” I had just written about my love of Jesus being wasted. But I probably only said that because I didn’t get what I wanted from Him. He reminded me that love is never wasted, even if I was unwilling to believe it at the time.
Months after I barely started believing God would deliver me from my grave, three days after I prayed God’s love stronger than death over myself, and two days after I lamented the hopelessness of my grave, God planted a seed of life. It would be more than a month before I would go back through my journal and see the growth, the tiny shoot of life sprouting from the seed planted in my darkness. It would be more than a month after I asked God to seal His love onto my heart and deliver me from death that I would let Him speak life over my dry bones. He promised me so many months ago that He would bring me up from my grave and on the day I wrote my name into the valley of dry bones, He showed me how He breathes life into me and lets me live. I’ve been picturing myself like Mary, on my face pouring out at Jesus’ feet, clinging to Him with all my might. I cling to His feet, extravagantly pouring myself out while I wait to see the fruit. Because love is never wasted. The pouring out is never wasted.
"A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit." - Isaiah 11:1
I want to start looking at my dead places and expect that God has already planted a seed. I want to look at my dry bones and expect that God will breathe His life into them. I want to look at all the suffering and seemingly hopeless circumstances and expect to see a sprout of growth, a shoot of life. I can’t wait to see the fruit that God will grow. I wonder what seeds God has already planted in our darkness, or even from the day of our birth, the growth of which remains to be seen. Let us cling to the feet of Jesus while we wait expectantly to see the growth and to enjoy the fruit. Maybe this is what it means to hope.
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only
Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing
Great are You, Lord.”