Feed on
Posts
Comments

walking skeletons

azin-javadzadeh--OnXvfO8tmw-unsplash

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 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.’” Ezekiel 37:4-6

Six years ago, in January, I stepped away from my position at our church in Portland, Oregon. For quite some time I had been sensing that my life was losing focus; my priorities were out of whack. The emotional needs of our children were increasing, as was the desire in my heart to start giving attention to some of the dreams and personal goals I had, long ago, put on a shelf.

While no longer employed by the church, I was still busy with teaching Wednesday night classes and partnering with Joel in some of the ministries he oversaw. Simultaneously, I was recalibrating our home life and writing out manageable steps towards some of my personal goals.

I really felt like something new was on the horizon. I believed that this was going to be the season when I started to see dormant dreams wake up.

I felt excited.

I felt energized.

Then I felt sick.

Really sick.

And this sickness wasn’t going away. It was lingering and getting worse.

In order to rule out every possible scenario before calling my doctor, I took a pregnancy test.

Lo, and behold, I was pregnant.

Pregnant.

It took me a while to wrap my mind around this.

Another baby?

At 41?

“I’m not equipped for this, God!”

“I’m too tired, God!”

“This isn’t the NEW THING I was expecting right now, God!”

“I don’t want to give up this season – a season that was supposed to be about me – in order to start all over again, God!”

I cringe when I recall all of the selfish feelings, emotions, tears, and honest confessions.

It was a struggle.

I was struggling.

After a difficult pregnancy and a rough post-partum, there, in my arms, was this very unique baby. While I couldn’t put into words all the concerns I had about Jasper – even as a newborn, I could tell he was much different than our older three- from day one I found myself in a parenting conundrum. I understood that “all children are different”, but at the same time I couldn’t shake this feeling that there was something more different about this little guy.

Six years later we have a diagnosis.

Autism Spectrum Disorder.

It has been a journey.

I have bounced from grief to relief countless times over the past six months.

And I am settling into a peace, contentment, and grace that I haven’t felt in a really long time.

I have hope.

I have joy.

I am praising.

God likes to take dead things and breathe new life into them. Dreams, hopes, calling, relationships, families, and ministries.

I am fascinated by the vision Ezekiel had of the bones being raised to life. Jasper and I were just reading this story in his little story Bible the other night. There are pictures, but to Jasper’s dismay, no pictures of walking skeletons. Only dirt with scattered bones. Even still, Jasper, too, finds this story fascinating. These bones weren’t partially dead, almost dead, or “mostly dead” (ref. The Princess Bride), but they were completely dead.

You see, six years ago, when I was making my grand list of goals and dreams for myself, I didn’t realize the unexpected path that God was going to take me and my family on. I didn’t have a clue how much my world would flip.

I believe with all my heart that God raises dead things to life.

He also allows things to die.

He allowed those dreams of mine to pass away. They weren’t just “mostly dead”.

They completely died.

Not because they were bad, or evil, or even self-serving. He allowed them to die because they were not complete.

The process he has taken me through, and continues to take me through, has been refining, reshaping, and reframing the dreams I once had.

Refining is defined as “to remove impurities or unwanted elements; purify, clarify, clear, cleanse, sift.”

Think about that. When the Israelites were in captivity, God was using that time to refine them. To cleanse them. To remove the impurities so that their hearts would return to Him. Every time we hit a dead end to a dream, we can be confident that God is removing the impurities of that dream and bringing it into focus. His sifting brings clarity.

Reshaping is defined as “to give a new form or orientation to; reorganize.”

The Israelites had morphed into a shape – form – that was no longer reflecting the image of their God. Through captivity God was allowing the disfigurement of his people to die so that he could reshape them back into an image that reflected his glory. When we walk through those hard seasons, when life appears to pull us away from where our hearts were so eager to run, it is really God’s way of reshaping our hopes and dreams into ones that truly reflect God’s image and his character.

Reframing is defined as “to frame or express (words or a concept or plan) differently.”

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8

The Israelites had moved so far outside of God’s perfect ways that it took captivity to reframe the trajectory of a nation. So often we make plans. We think we have the best scenario in place, and we believe we have the best of intentions as well. And then we get frustrated with God when our plans suddenly die away. Sometimes it is simply that the plan is not right for the moment. Sometimes it is because God has a better plan. And sometimes it is because life happens…and the plan has to change. But God is still very present, and very capable of reframing the dream.

The vision that God gave to Ezekiel was a symbolic picture of the hope coming to Israel after a season of judgment and exile.

Hope was on the horizon.

New life would breathe into the soul of a nation.

Our dreams are in the making. Sometimes that means they will die. But in death there comes refining, reshaping, and reframing.

The process God is taking us through is a part of the dream. It is not a sideways interruption pulling us aside until the timing is just right. This season is probably the most significant part of the story. God is doing some big work. He is breathing his life into our dreams.

Resurrected hope. Resurrected joy. Resurrected praise.

These are some of the fruits of the past six years. And the dreams are being remade.

God likes to take dead things and breathe new life into them. I’m so grateful for that. I’m grateful that the same God who brought his people from death to life, from captivity to freedom, is the same God that transforms dead dreams into life-giving hope.

This is walking in abundance.

This is the dream awakened.

These are the rattling bones…the walking skeletons.

And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. 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 from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So, I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood on their feet – a vast army. Ezekiel 37:7-10

If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!

Leave a Reply