In children’s church, we’re doing The Gospel Project. Today we finished our Prophets and Kings books. In the last four weeks, our big picture question has been: “Why should we obey God? We obey God because He loves us.” The last few weeks got so deep in my soul. I can’t even begin to explain it.
In the leader bible study, the book shares a quote from Ravi Zacharias which says: “Jesus did not come into this world to make bad people good. He came into this world to make dead people alive.” Ohhhhh, how I got the chills.
The last story in the book is in Ezekiel 37. The story said: “In one vision, God led Ezekiel through a valley filled with old, dry bones. God asked Ezekiel, ‘Can these bones come to life?’ Ezekiel replied, ‘Lord God, only You know the answer to that question.'” Ohhhhh, Lord. Ezekiel’s response got me good. I got a never ending list of questions that end with that response. Lord, I do not understand this world or anything in it, as a matter of fact. Lord, sometimes I’m so lost, I can’t even find myself. But ohhhhh how You’ve got me. You know exactly where I am and exactly where I’ve been hiding. You see that deep valley. You see my old, dry bones. You told Ezekiel to tell those bones that You said to breathe and come to life. Those bones came together: “bones to bones, tendons to bones, flesh over bones, skin over flesh.” Then breath entered the bones. Lord, You take our sin filled lives and our dry bones and literally breathe life into us.
We asked some questions at the end of the story and one kid was answering. He said something along the lines of belief didn’t matter because we still go home sinnin, that we ain’t going to Heaven still sinnin. This right here is where a lot of people get confused. I stood up out my chair and walked right to the middle of the room and said no, no, no, no, hang on, wait a minute. Then I pointed at that Bible verse we’ve been working on the last four weeks: Ezekiel 11:19-20, which says: And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, so they may follow My statutes, keep My ordinances, and practice them. Then they will be My people, and I will be their God. I explained that we don’t get to Heaven because of the good we do because we would never be able to do enough to earn Heaven and pay for all our selfishness and greed and sin. He get Heaven because we believe and because we believe we get that new heart. We no longer have those hearts of stone, we are dry bones no more. We obey because You love us. We have a new spirit within us. We have been changed. We do good because of that belief. We ain’t livin for us anymore, we’re living for You.
Lauren Daigle has a song about this very story. She and Michael Farren explained in a interview she wanted the song to be about those prodigals that went away for whatever reason and specifically for the people praying for You to bring them back home. Michael pointed out the next verse after Ezekiel’s response of “only You know.” Verse 4 says: He said to me, “Prophesy concerning these bones and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Michael said that invites us in and there is an action required. Lord, we are Your hands and feet. We not only have to leave behind our old lives and our dry bones. We have to use that new heart and we have to get moving, That army of dry bones rises when we speak Your words.
So, here is my prayer today. Lord, breathe in my dry bones. Lord, I know that I don’t have to clean myself up to come to you and I know that you love me too much to leave me that way. Lord, sometimes, I’m so far into my mess that I don’t even realize I’m in the valley. Lord, help me to look for those ways out that you provide. Lord, I pray that I keep moving. I pray that I remember I do have your breath in my dry bones. I pray I remember I have a new heart and a new spirit. I do not have to live that way anymore. I do not have to stay lost and defeated in that valley. Father, I pray that I take that new heart and put it to work. I pray that I get moving. I pray that I take that invitation and pick up my cross. I pray that I go tell that army about your words. I pray that I stop living for me and start living for you. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.