1 The Lord’s power overcame me, and while I was in the Lord’s spirit, he led me out and set me down in the middle of a certain valley. It was full of bones.2 He led me through them all around, and I saw that there were a great many of them on the valley floor, and they were very dry.
3 He asked me, “Human one, can these bones live again?”
I said, “Lord God, only you know.”
4 He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, Dry bones, hear the Lord’s word! 5 The Lord God proclaims to these bones: I am about to put breath in you, and you will live again. 6 I will put sinews on you, place flesh on you, and cover you with skin. When I put breath in you, and you come to life, you will know that I am the Lord.”
7 I prophesied just as I was commanded. There was a great noise as I was prophesying, then a great quaking, and the bones came together, bone by bone. 8 When I looked, suddenly there were sinews on them. The flesh appeared, and then they were covered over with skin. But there was still no breath in them.
9 He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, human one! Say to the breath, The Lord God proclaims: Come from the four winds, breath! Breathe into these dead bodies and let them live.”
10 I prophesied just as he commanded me. When the breath entered them, they came to life and stood on their feet, an extraordinarily large company.
11 He said to me, “Human one, these bones are the entire house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished. We are completely finished.’ 12 So now, prophesy and say to them, The Lord God proclaims: I’m opening your graves! I will raise you up from your graves, my people, and I will bring you to Israel’s fertile land. 13 You will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you up from your graves, my people. 14 I will put my breath[a] in you, and you will live. I will plant you on your fertile land, and you will know that I am the Lord. I’ve spoken, and I will do it. This is what the Lord says.”
Ezekiel 37:1-14 CEB
Sermon illustration forthcoming. Maybe you've heard it before. I know I've heard it a couple of times:
Once there was a woman who found herself stuck in a house during a really bad flood. The waters were beginning to rise and fill into her house. She prayed, "Dear God, save me from this flood."
A moment later a man floated by in a boat. "Ma'am, jump into the boat, and I will bring you to safety."
"No," she responded, "I'm waiting for God to save me."
The young man tried to talk her into getting in the boat, but she wouldn't budge.
The waters continued to rise. They rose so high she had to go up her stairs to the second story. Once again she went to pray, "Dear God, save me from this flood."
A moment later the Coast Guard came by in their boat. Knowing they would force her to leave, she hid in the house. "God will save me," she thought.
The waters continued to rise. The rose so high she had to go up on top of her roof. Once again she went to pray, "Dear God, save me from this flood."
A moment later a helicopter arrived and dropped a ladder for her to climb up to safety. She refused to climb, and eventually the helicopter gave up to save others. When the helicopter returned, it was too late. The waters rose too high, and she drowned.
In heaven, the woman went to God, "Why did you not save me?"
God replied, "Save you! I sent two boats and helicopter!"
A few things jump out at me regarding the scripture today. The most blaring has to do with the illustration I just shared. We want God to do it all, when that's not how this works. We are not here to be catered to by the All Mighty. God isn't some magical wish granter. We live in this world to be in relationship with one another and God. This requires us to take some action in the divine plan.
Notice in the scripture, dry dead bones came to life. No one can deny it was God who gave life where it appeared life had concluded. Where we tend to gloss over, is God gave the initiation of the event to Ezekiel. In other words, we have a part in God's plan! So a bunch of bloggers are up in arms because the American church is bleeding out. Here's the obvious question: What are they/you doing about it?! Instead of praying, "God, fix this problem," perhaps you should be praying, "God, help me find the tools to fix the problem." In other words, trust God enough to find the boat and take it. It just might save our lives.