This past weekend, I had the honor of serving a group of ladies from Charlotte at their women’s retreat. Their theme was “Restore” and as I prepared my own heart to speak to these ladies, the hope of what is loaded within that word has stuck with me, and it has challenged me to the core. As I look back over my life, I have been in some process of restoration for my whole life, it seems. I’ve come to find the process beautiful as layers are peeled back and what is exposed is God’s work, and not my own.
The Lord sought Ezekiel for a big task in Ezekiel 36. A very dispersed, disorganized and lacking unity nation of Israel would be the hearers of Ezekiel’s message. The message? Ezekiel was to prophesy the rebirth of the nation of Israel would take place under the leadership of David. Seemingly impossible when this nation was so all over the place? The cards were for sure stacked against anyone believing Ezekiel and following. The message from the Lord that followed this initial instruction was even more profound, as we read in Ezekiel 37:1-14 (read here). We often refer to this passage as The Valley of the Dry Bones. That alone conjures up real emotions within me. It’s where I found myself over eight years ago…
My story found me uttering, “I will never step foot in a church again!” The brunt of hurt within the church, I had watched my husband wounded as the Shepherd of the church we served. I had been the hearer of malicious lies and selfish motivations toward my family and I quickly spiraled for the valley. I was done! It was hard to live in the reality that when I counted the number of those that were so destructive to be a few 26 people, the punch they packed was brutal for me to face. I knew so many more loved us there, but the hurt outweighed the love at that time. I had grown up in ministry, and I know my parents shielded us from this sort of thing when it happened, and I was grateful for that, but it was quite another thing for my husband and I to face it ourselves. It was the darkest, loneliest time of my life. There’s not been that dark of a time since. Ironically, this very passage in Ezekiel 37 was the one my husband preached on his first Sunday at this church. Little did I know, it would be the healer for me time and time again. As I spoke from this passage this weekend, three key points again challenged me, and I pray they challenge you:
1) We may have to go to the valley to breathe new life (v. 1-3) – I know my own valleys have been characterized by heartache and the singular feeling that I have no where else to reach but up to God. I’ve watched friends in my life, families to whom we minister, face such difficulty in their life that the decision is to turn away, or turn to God. Without a doubt, the one commonality we all shared was:
2.) We cannot make it out of the valley alone – (v. 4-10) – Every great story has one defining factor when we are way down in the valley, so lost we wondered if we’ll ever be found…a Rescuer plays the most vital role. We may get ourselves to a point of speeding up the process, but ultimately those who’ve found themselves stuck in the canyon have been airlifted out. Those who are facing the worst of health crises seek a doctor to make them better. The child of God who’s lost all hope sees the Father take them in His arms and lift them out. The danger of trying to make it out alone leaves us missing God completely and missing the relationship with others who will help us. The rescue from our Father will forever be our greatest story. I don’t want to miss Him in the valley. He has continually proved Himself to be my Defender. He has further given me others to be the lifters of my arms when I’m too tired to lift them myself. Some of my sweetest relationships have come from those willing to get in the trenches with me.
3.) We cannot tell others about it unless we LIVE it –(v. 11-14) – To be that person that can say, “I know what you’re going through” we must GO through it! Our going through it may be the key factor in helping someone else get through their own valley. You may be the only person that can look another in the eye and truly relate. Don’t keep it to yourself. Share your story! Do you believe God allows you to go through your own Valley of Dry Bones so that no one would know of His goodness?
Where are you today? In the valley? Trying to make it alone? Out and ready to testify of what God has done for you? At one point or another, we may find ourselves in all three places. I want you to know today that God can heal you and USE you right where you are! Our Valley of the Dry Bones will see life!
And 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, declares the Lord.” Ezekiel 37:14
What hope for you today, my friend! He only has to SPEAK and it is done! Let Him speak over you today with His truth!