When I was young I loved fishing out the craziest stories in the Bible—Moses parting the Red Sea, all of Revelation, etc. I guess you can say I’ve always been into Sci-Fi. (Except that this stuff isn’t fiction, which makes it one-thousand times more dope.) My favorite of all, though, was the Valley of Dry Bones in Ezekiel.
I had it dog-eared and highlighted and circled and I was always flipping back to it. Little Han laying on the floor wide-eyed at this weird desert prophecy.
All these years later it’s still popped on and off my radar. And in the midst of this most recent bout of difficulty, it started to really settle in. If you’ve been following along, you know the details—so don’t worry, I won’t spout off another summary or anything. But basically that valley of dry bones has been hitting home lately and, until this morning, I couldn’t have told you exactly why.
In a broad sense, the juxtaposition of death and life, the reality of God’s presence in pain, and all of that sort of tie me to that story. At times I feel like a pile of spent bones. Chronic pain is exhausting and terrifying and lately I’m prone to go quiet—mostly with God. Sometimes it feels better to internalize and shove it out of mind rather than address the things that have been culminating over the years.
Like the line between believing for healing and prepping your heart for the worst. And the not knowing. And the recent question: “Why still and why now?”
So sometimes I just roll over and dry up.
It’s dumb and unhealthy, but I’m not going to photoshop anything. There wouldn’t be a story.
Anyway, at the end of that passage I love, God instructs Ezekiel to tell all these dry bones that He’s going to pull them out of their graves and bring them back to their home and then they’ll know He’s God and He did what He promised.
Naturally, I thought that was the idea that kept poking at me: God’s going to pull me out of my grave and pump life into this bleakness. Sweet.
So I attached the thought to this awesome art my friend made and got myself a new tattoo. Of course.
But this morning while I was gingerly cleaning my freshly irritated patch of black and red skin, the thought occurred to me: God didn’t deal directly with the dry bones, He used Ezekiel.
I’d like to introduce you to the Millers.
They were the first people to really hunt us down at our new church. Immediately inviting and intentional. Joyful and real and so cool. We all became fans of each other pretty quickly and I was grateful for that alone. (I’m at the tail-end of thinking I can do life by myself—turns out community is not only valuable but vital. Lesson in humility #594.)
Our most recent hangout with the Millers was a happy last-minute thing. I wasn’t feeling well at all that day—props to a pain spike with a side of fatigue and discouragement—but Jess extended an invite after church and I really wanted to make it work.
We met them at a nearby coffee shop and pulled some chairs around a small table on the patio. It was a beautiful day. The sun was out and it hadn’t been lately and it was just so nice to be with them. After a little while, Brett directed a question at me and Trev.
“Is there anything we can do for you guys?”
I’m not great at asking for things. Of any kind—spiritual, tangible, whatever. But like I touched on earlier, I’m learning about the blessing of taking part in community. And taking part means not only offering but accepting support. So I decided in my mind that I would ask the Millers to pray for me. But before I could open my mouth to ask, Brett added something else.
“Well, to be honest, the reason we wanted to hang out with you guys is because we wanted to pray for Hannah. For her health.”
The tears happened immediately. Another love note touching down like lightning right in front of my face.
Are you kidding me?
So they gathered around me and they prayed. And the crazy thing is they prayed up all these things they didn’t even know about. They prayed that healing would happen (whatever that looks like), that God would use this story reach and encourage people—all this stuff I had put to bed because I’m so dang exhausted.
And then Jess sat beside me and spoke into that too.
Hello, Holy Spirit.
This morning, staring at the little floral coffin on my arm I thought of the Millers. I thought of Trev and my mom and my sister and my best friend. All these Ezekiels who have been dropped into my death valley and allowed their voices to be used.
Whenever I go quiet, whenever I want to phase out and be done—God throws me in the path of someone willing. Prophesy to these bones.
Like a crowbar to a coffin lid. Every single time.
The Valley of Dry Bones
The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”