Word-y Gifts for Christian Faith & Life

Resurrecting Dead Dreams (by Faith)

In one of the most evocative stories of the Old Testament, the prophet Ezekiel finds himself in the middle of a valley filled with (very) dry human bones (Ez. 37). As he stared at the death about him, God asked if he thought the bones could live. “Only you know,” Ezekiel responded. Soon enough, the bones began rattling as they came together, and sinew by sinew flesh grew over them. As Ezekiel beheld what had become a pit of corpses, God told him to command breath to enter them. He did, and the corpses became a living army. Through the terrifying scene, God was making a point: He could do what was to human reason impossible—he could bring dead things back to life.

The people to whom Ezekiel was to deliver the message were in exile. At this point, having seen the hand of their Babylonian oppressors grow heavier and witnessed the fall of Jerusalem, few of the scattered Israelites were still envisioning a future in their own homeland. Many of them had made a pseudo-peace with their situation, but God was breaking into the scene and telling them that not only was national restoration still possible, it was most certainly in their future. It was the kind of message that under the conditions would have been met with rolling eyes or resigned shrugs, “if you say so…”

Like the exiles, sometimes we find ourselves in places we never thought we would be. Disappointed and saddled with the pain of unfulfilled dreams, we give up on things we once desired and settle into our Plan B, C, D or whatever “it is what it is” existence. We make a pseudo-peace with our condition because we’ve come to believe “it’s too late,” “I’ve lost too much,” “it will never happen,” “it is not meant to be,” “if it was going to happen it would have happened by now,” “I’m too old” and so on. In that valley of (very) dead dreams, God speaks, shattering our despair and challenging us to believe again, if not for what we lost (or think we lost) but for what he is still able to give.

Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones reminds believers that we do not let go of our deepest hopes simply because we cannot imagine how they could possibly be fulfilled. With God all things are still possible (Matt. 19:26). And as long as God is in the resurrecting business, so are we.

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