Today's Old Testament passage comes from chapter 37 of Ezekiel. It is the story of the dry bones. (Click this link if you'd like to read it.)
Here's the Reader's Digest version: a prophet peers into a valley and it is filled with bones. They are very dry. God instructs the man to tell the bones to listen and hear of His promises. Ezekiel does what he is told, and watches as sinews and muscles and skin grow over the bones. Last of all, God's breath enters them so that the bones came alive. As the scene closes, the valley is filled with a vast army of the resurrected.
I've previously found the story to be fanciful and a bit spooky. It seemed like a good reading for the Day of the Dead. It is very visual, and I think the imagery must have distracted me from the message.
Today I heard it differently. For the first time, I realized that it is my story.
While I had not been whittled all the way to bone, I was nearly dead, held captive by an idea and a hope of what could never be. My hair was brittle and my jaw so tight it ached. I couldn't sleep and my body was rigid with tension. If it weren't for my children and my church, I would surely have died.
The darkness was very dark and my bones were very dry.
But God watched, and waited. And finally, He spoke, His breath flowing in and out and around me, releasing my inert soul from it's shackles and hauling me to my feet.
Here is the final verse in Ezekiel's vision, with God speaking to the resurrected:
14 I will put my spirit in you that you may come to life, and I will settle you in your land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.
And that is what He did for me. He breathed life into the decay, and carried me both symbolically and literally into my land, a land that is also His.
I am speechlessly grateful for my Lord's breath.
If you are hurting, broken, and hopeless may God send you a prophet to speak life and truth to all your places of captivity. Be on the lookout, but don't assume he'll bear the name Ezekiel.
In my case, her name was Diane.