Devotional written by: Lorenzo Watson, CCDA Staff
“So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.”
All at once, the bones in Ezekiel 37 represent the life that has passed and life that is still to come. Yet, from either perspective, they are still just bones. At the direction of the Holy Spirit, Ezekiel prophesied to these bones which caused them to come together, “bone to its bone.” Yet, they were still just bones. Upon the bones, grew sinews, flesh, and skin. As they lay on the valley floor, the bones were simultaneously empty containers of lives already poured and newly prepared vessels ready to be filled with life’s first breath. Yet, they were still just bones.
Finally, Ezekiel, at the direction of the Holy Spirit once again, calls breath from the four winds that they may “breathe on these slain, that they may live.” As breath entered these newly prepared vessels, they stood on their feet and became “an exceedingly great army.” Yet, they were still just bones. Yes, fresh life had come. Yes, each of the bones had found an appropriate place in a body. Yes, together these newly formed bodies formed an army animated by the very breath of God. Yet, behind the breath, underneath the skin and flesh, connected by the sinews were the same bones that once lay dry upon the valley floor.
We learn from these ever-present bones that our hope should not be diminished by the dryness of a treacherous past, but it can remain steadfast and ever growing because we serve a God who creates armies of righteousness from valleys of dry bones. Like these bones, we experience the plurality of being. We are simultaneously pouring our lives onto the valley floor while being filled with the fresh breath of the Holy Spirit. We are an army of freedom fighters and yet we are still just bones.
In this Advent season, we celebrate and we lament. We remember the birth of Jesus, who is both King and servant; both human and divine. The same Jesus who raised Lazarus from the dead, but who also cried at the funeral. We remember him because this same Jesus still breathes within us today, creating an exceedingly great army. And yet, we are still just bones. As you pray and reflect over 2020, do not be dismayed by the bones you see. Rather, remember that each bone is both a sign of life that once was and life that is to come.
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