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Can these dry bones live?

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It’s one of the odder scenes in the Bible: a valley of bones. Dry, sun-bleached bones. We don’t know why they’re there, or even where “there” is. We only know that God takes Ezekiel and sets him down in a valley filled with dry bones. Very dry.

But the odd isn’t over. God tells Ezekiel to speak—or rather, to prophesy—to proclaim God’s words to the bones. “Say to them,” God says, “‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.'”

Ummm… God? Bones can’t hear. Especially dry bones. 

But isn’t that sort of the point? If the bones could hear, they wouldn’t be dry. Resurrection wouldn’t be resurrection without death.

We speak of “the miracle of modern medicine” – and I admit, it’s pretty amazing stuff. (My 80-year-old Dad had three major surgeries last year; I’m convinced.) But miraculous? Even Miracle Max knew that his “miracle pill” would only work because The Man in Black was just “mostly dead. … With all dead, well, with all dead there’s usually only one thing you can do: Go through his clothes and look for loose change.” (The Princess Bride)

Lazarus was all dead when Jesus called him from the grave. Jesus was all dead when God raised him that first Easter morning. And the dry bones were all dead. But that didn’t stop Ezekiel from prophesying.

What part of you is God bringing back to life?
Where is God’s breath blowing,
the dry bones moving?

Read Steve Garnaas-Holmes’ reflection (from which those questions come) at www.unfoldinglight.net. Then listen for the rattling of the bones. Listen for the wind (God’s breath, His Spirit; they’re all the same word). And, as Steve writes:

Be open to the miracle
Let God breathe, and wait.

Because even if you’re “all dead,” God can breathe life into your dry bones.

Beyond Numbers – Beyond Borders – Beyond Ourselves

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Immigration isn’t an easy topic with easy answers. Even the questions are hard. Add the dynamic of refugees—immigrants fleeing war, persecution, famine…or even economic hardship—and everything just gets more challenging. But look into a refugee’s eyes for a few minutes and something changes. The questions are still hard; the answers don’t come any easier. But you see not a number or a statistic, you see a human being – a person. And behind those eyes is a story….

Psalm 8 Revisited

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Abba, Father, Mighty God —
a name resounding throughout the earth
echoing through canyons
a sonic boom shattering across the land

Children sing your name with delight!
Babies coo and gurgle it
long before they say “mama” or “dada.”
Your enemies’ mouths are shut
in the face of these infant worshippers!
Who can withstand their profound praise?

I walk outside and look up at the skies,
gaze on the carvings of the Rocky Mountains.
Escaping the city lights, I try to count the uncountable stars
stare at the barely discernible hills and craters of the moon….

Why, in all creation, do you bother with the likes of me?
How can you possibly even notice me,
let alone love and guide me?

But you do! Among all your magnificent creation,
only the angels outrank us!
Only those who stand in your very presence
are higher than we who are created in your own image.
And somehow, you’ve laid upon us
the honor and glory of royalty.

What’s more, you’ve put us in charge!
All creation (save your angels) is under our management.
You’ve made us to be shepherds and ranchers and farmers,
zookeepers and fishermen,
birders and boaters, botanists and foresters…
all to care for and oversee and enjoy
the beauty and wonder of your handiwork.

O LORD, our lord,
We are awed by you.
Your name brings wonder and praise to our lips.

Leaning On The Bier

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We spoke of death quite easily
When you were only old
But health was yours
And theory checked our fears

We spoke of When, not If, but still
The When was down the road
And years were yours
And time, it checked our tears

Now When is feeling imminent
And hearts are breaking down
And words are hard
When leaning on the bier

Drought Resistance

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But blessed are those who trust in the LORD
and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit.
(Jeremiah 17:7-8, New Living Translation)

What does it look like to “trust in the Lord”? What does it mean to make him your “hope and confidence”? I’ve been wrestling with those questions over the past couple days – ever since my Dad reminded me of Jeremiah’s words.

Part of the answer lies in the alternative: trusting in “mere humans” and relying on human strength. Do that, Jer’ says, and you’re cursed. Not necessarily damned, but certainly doomed. Like a “stunted shrub in the desert… in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land.” With “no hope for the future.” Dismal words. Dismal picture. Dismal life.

“But,” he says, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can be like a riverside tree, “with roots that reach deep into the water.”

Look at the picture above. The landscape looks pretty brown and barren. Lots of weeds, but no crops. But the tree is flourishing. Green, leafy, healthy. Why? Because down to the right of the trunk, below the canopy’s shade, is a river. Not much of a river here, but water, nonetheless. And the tree’s roots reach through the brown soil deep into the ground where the water sits.

This particular tree, a few miles west of Ethiopia’s capital city, is a prayer tree. Christians from nearby villages meet here to pray in its cooling shade. In the midst of a dry and weary land, they come together to put their trust in the Lord; to make him their hope and confidence. And they—like the tree—aren’t afraid of the drought, but stay green and fruitful.

I’ve been through some wilderness times. I feel like I’m in the wilderness now. But there’s something different this time. More than ever before, I know I can trust in God. I know he is worthy of my trust, hope, confidence. It’s not easy; I’d really like to be able to just move forward, to pop out one more resume and get the job I’ve been waiting for, to be done with the waiting and wondering and wandering.

But he’s faithful. And even when I can’t see it, he’s growing fruit in me…and maybe even through me. And I don’t have to fear the drought.