Ezekiel 37:1-6 (ESV) | “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ And I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’ Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.’”
Our feet rhythmically hit the pavement as we walked down the sidewalk. Making our way down Market Street, my teammate, Claire, and I were met with the familiar realities of San Francisco’s street scene. An old lady hunched over in a huge coat walked past us, muttering to herself, trapped in a mental world far from reality. A cardboard sign with a plea in black marker covered the face of its author whose fingers spun a few loose dimes. A group of people gathered around a crack pipe.
On this particular day, Claire and I were looking for Andrea. We had seen her spiraling into a deeper hole of addiction and felt God calling us to pursue her, even as he was chasing her with his life-giving love. We found Andrea and met her new friends, Jess and Mike. After we had been there a short while, Mike passed out after swallowing some unknown pills. As the ambulance whisked him away to the hospital, the girls turned to us, wanting to pray.
And so we knelt, huddled together on the concrete with Jess and Andrea, who were both tightly squeezing our hands. Jess rocked back and forth as she mumbled fervent prayers. Our tears mixed with the raindrops that now began to fall, the gray clouds expressing their mourning.
I often imagine Ezekiel’s stroll with God through the valley of dry bones to be a lot like our daily trek through the streets. God set Ezekiel down in a place with death on all sides. And not just one set of bones; “there were very many.” And not recently dead ones with any life left in them; “behold, they were very dry.”
I sometimes feel as if God is leading me around by the hand as we look upon San Francisco, saying, “Daughter of man, can these bones live?” I reply with a meager, “Maybe in another city with another ministry, but probably not here, Lord.” Yet God consistently reveals himself as the One who indeed brings life—piece by piece replacing the sinews, the flesh, the skin, and finally the breath.
The call of God by his Spirit often takes us into bleak places, but these are the very places where he is present, creating and restoring life. He is calling us to step out in faith and speak to scattered bones, proclaiming with our words and our lives that they shall live and they shall know that he is the Lord.
REFLECT AND RESPOND
- Is there a situation in your life that feels dry as bones and beyond help? Bring that situation to God in light of this passage.
- Think of experiences where you have seen God breathe new life into what was dead. Write these down as pillars of remembrance that help build your faith for what God can do in the present and future.
- What is God calling you to pray about where you would like to see his Spirit move freely and with power?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mariah Nix now lives in Los Angeles with her husband Paul and two children. In addition to serving on the L.A. InnerCHANGE team, Mariah works as a mobilizer for InnerCHANGE, helping others discern God’s unique call on their life and to the poor.
This reflection was originally shared in CRM’s 2013 Lent Devotional.