Are you like me and look around and see dry bones? Dry bones come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Some of us see dry bones all over the place. Ever walked along a row of shops where every other shop is closed and boarded up. There is just not enough money circulating around the community after the main employer closed down. Dry bones could be a community where few people have an earned income or that is part of a food desert. A food desert is an area where it is hard to buy food because there are so few shops.
Or it could be a community where it is extraordinarily difficult to sell property. So tough that the prices are tumbling and the more they fall the more likely that the perceived quality of the area will fall. It can become a negative spiral. When you can buy a house for less than an ordinary family car you know that an area is struggling. OK you will need to spend some money improving the house before anyone can move in but even when you have done that you have a bargain home.
Life is tough in the land of dry bones. It is hard to survive and it is hard to escape. I have tried living in the land of dry bones and seen it and and felt it for myself.
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Why is it so hard?
In the land of dry bones the life is literally sucked out of you. Everyone around you is so dry that you get dry yourself. They say that we become like those we associate with. If we are around dry bones then we become like dry bones ourselves.
Once we become like dry bones how do we come alive again? I can tell you what I did one time when I found myself in that kind of situation. I found myself some real live people to associate with. I spent time with them soaking in the life that they offered.
I was in a tough spot in my personal life and I was struggling to cope. I looked for help locally but there was no one who had enough life in them for me to catch some energy from. It was then that I realised that I had the financial resources to do a series of teaching weekends that I had wanted to do for ages. I signed up for the first of that series and while I was away from the trials of my home life I got an infusion of life.
If it happened once it could happen again so I signed up for the next and the next weekend and before I knew it I had done enough weekends to complete the whole course. Something strange happened though. After I had had a few infusions of energy I started to look for a way out. I stopped accepting the situation and did something to make it change.
It is possible to escape
I could not do anything to move until I had those life-giving infusions to strengthen me. It was only once I had gathered strength that I could start the journey to move away from the dry bones. Once I had given God permission to help me escape He got things organised for me.
The problem is that many people are not comfortable leaving the dry bones behind even for a short time. Feeling life come into you is a new and different experience. It is strange. It is uncomfortable. You wonder if it is really right that someone like you has that kind of infusion of life. You feel that you belong amongst the dry bones. There is no alternative for someone like you.
I am thankful that was able to go somewhere and experience life away from the dry bones. I wonder though what happens to those who don’t or even those who try to move away but then find that they cannot cope with life away from the dry bones.
As i write this I am thinking of people that I have spoken to in the last few days who from my perspective are living in the land of dry bones. People who say that super encouragement approach is wrong. Well maybe that is something to do with their experience of living amongst the dry bones and they struggle when they are in a place where they could get an infusion of life. I am thinking of people who accept situations rather than fight back against them so end up with less than they might have otherwise. People who have a taste of what life could be like but then settle to live amongst dry bones as that is all that they can have or do.
Without an infusion of life it is not possible to escape. So how do we give people an infusion of life? For them life might mean hope of doing something different. For them life might mean encouragement and a belief that change is actually possible. For them life might mean feeling a burst of inspiration from worship.
I will be honest I don’t know how to give life to people. It would not surprise me at all if different people needed infusions of life in different ways at different times. However, what I do know is that there are times when God’s life flows through me to other people. He is quite capable of using me to help others if I let Him work through me.
Yes I do get frustrated when I see people who are able of having or doing more but seem to be stuck where they are. I would love them to get an infusion of life that would help them move forwards.
It is interesting to see what Ezekiel was told to do when he was faced by dry bones. First of all he was led to a certain group of dry bones. He had to go to the dry bones God wanted him to go to. Secondly God asked him if they could live. Ezekiel said I don’t know but you do. Thirdly even though Ezekiel did not know if what he was asked to do would work he still did it. Finally what did Ezekiel do? He spoke to the bones repeating what God said about them.
How do we copy Ezekiel’s example?
- Go to the dry bones God wants us to go to.
- Accept that it is only God who knows if they will live. It is not our choice whether they live again.
- Even if we cannot be sure whether it will work we still need to follow instructions.
- Tell the dry bones what God thinks about them and what He wants to do for them.
Do you see what that last step is? It is telling them the good things that God can do for them and with them if they agree. You see even God cannot make things happen if the people He wants to help do not respond.
Think of the man who was told to pick up his bed and walk. How could he have had a miracle if he had not tried to do what he was told? It would have sounded outrageous to his ears but he had a go and managed to do what he was told.
Put it another way what do the dry bones hear? They hear the Good News of the Kingdom. The Good News that they are valued and valuable, loved and accepted, cherished and respected. The Good News that their life can change for the better if they do things God’s way and believe in the right things. The Good News that their community can be transformed.
Thank God there is hope for dry bones!!!