Can these Dry Bones Live Again?
Are you experiencing a flagrant conflict with your conscience? We can feel so close to Jesus on Sunday morning, but then Monday morning comes. We turn on the news, and suddenly feel depressed. There seems to be a continual battle to draw closer to the Lord. Sometimes I feel so dry and thirsty for God. It feels like my prayers stop at the ceiling. The constant noise and distractions from the world labor to pull me away from the Lord.
Do you Feel Like you Belong in the Valley of Dry Bones?
There is an interesting story in the book of Ezekiel 37. Ezekiel the prophet had a vision that almost seems like one of our modern zombie movies. The Lord shows Ezekiel a valley of dry human bones. Perhaps there had been a fierce battle, and no one bothered to bury the dead bodies. God ask’s Ezekiel if all of these skeletons could live again. He proceeds to breathe on the bones, and flesh and blood come on the bones, and the army of people live again. This prophetic word had to do with the Nation of Israel. But it can be applied to our spiritual lives as well. God can bring new life to our spiritual walk with the Lord.
Have you ever experienced the presence of the Lord while walking in the woods? Just being in nature can reset our natural rhythm. God spoke to my spirit on a recent prayer walk in the American River Canyon. There was a great natural resting place on a big boulder overlooking the American River. It was also a great place to admire God’s handiwork and to pray a simple prayer. I paused from my walk and asked the question, “God, what are you stirring up in me?”
The Lord gently spoke to me about my need to rest, and to take a break from my busy-ness. Working in ministry can be precarious. It is easy to slip into a mind set that things have to be done, they have to be done now, and I am the only one who can do them. Sometimes we need to just breath and realize everything will not fall apart if I were suddenly removed from the process. The work will carry on.
Our driven society expects us to work more and sleep less. We are told we can rest after we accomplish certain goals. I once heard someone say “It takes a lot of work to get an airplane off the ground, but once it is in the air it takes little work to keep it there. You can rest after your plane is in the air.”
Alan Fadling, in his book “An Unhurried Life,” tells a parable. He tells about a king who had two loyal servants. One of the servants, who feared that they would not be pleasing to their master would rise up early in the morning. They would work hard all day, often until late in the evening. They were accomplishing things that they believed the king wanted done. They didn’t want to bother the king with questions about what work he wanted done. Instead they hurried from project to project. There was so much needing to be done, and there was never enough time. There were so many people to help, and so many projects to complete for the king.
The other servant was also very eager to please his master the king. They too would rise-up early. But they would get up and go spend time with the king, and ask him what he wanted done each day. They would then set about accomplishing the tasks the king wanted them to do.
The busy servant often got a lot accomplished before the inquiring servant even started for the day, but which of the two was really doing what the king wanted done and truly pleasing him?
God desires to have fellowship with us. Sometimes we get so busy doing things for God that we forget to spend time with God. Time spent with the Lord in spiritual formation will change us. When we take the time for regular devotions, and doing those things that will grow our spiritual life.
The book of Exodus tells about the Children of Israel enslaved in Egypt. Eventually God sent Moses to set them free. Have you ever thought about what made these people slaves? Of course the Egyptians overpowered them and forced them to work. But the Egyptians didn’t see the Children of Israel as people. They saw them as merely tools. They were forced to work 7 days a week. They never got a day off, never got a vacation.
When we work 7 days a week without taking a break, we make ourselves slaves. And when you work 7 days a week without a day off, you are forcing your spouse and your family to work 7 days a week and be slaves and tools as well.
Spiritual formation is about getting back to what is important to God. It is not just making sure we got proper rest and take at least one day off a week, although that is a part of it. Spiritual formation involves allowing the Holy Spirit to change our hearts. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV), “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit wants to transform us. Our part is to spend time in devotions, in service, and allowing him to change us.