I love going to women’s events, conferences, and brunches and listening to speakers. Whether the speaker is a famous author, Pastor, or the woman who sits in the third pew. For me, I never walk away from these experiences empty handed. I learn something and gain from the gift of their words.
At the event from this weekend, there were two speakers. I shared my thoughts/notes from the first speaker, Julie Mullins, last post. The second speaker was Pastor Charlotte Gambill who Co-Pastors with her husband at Life Church across the pond in the UK. I’ve never had an opportunity to hear Pastor Gambill before, and it was an absolute treat.
This is a mixture of direct words from her and my response to it written in my notes…
Do you feel like you are in the dry places? The desert of your life?
But you feel knocked down, worn out, planted into the stones and yet you want to uproot and run… but you can’t because you are breathless.
The sun is beating on your back, you are parched with thirst, your lungs feel as if there is no air left.
You feel like you are dying.
Your dreams are dying.
Your marriage is dying.
Your relationship with your child is dying.
… and God seems so far away…
God will put breath back into your lungs & resurrect the dry places, but first you must stop carrying the load that He doesn’t want you to bear in order to go to the place He is taking you. ~Pastor Charlotte Gambill
You are carrying the dry bones of your past that you thought you buried away. Past pain and hurt, confusion and frustration, anger and guilt. The enemy wants us to bury these bones and hide them, so that we don’t face them and others can’t see. God says NO! In order to bring life to those dry old bones, we must face them head on.
He is the God who resurrects and restores.
The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. 6 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.’”
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
9 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, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”
God will drop you into the valley of dry bones because He has a question for you, because sometimes God’s answer to you is wrapped in your answer to Him.
~Pastor Charlotte Gambill
God asked Ezekiel “can these bones live” and Ezekiel avoided the question, he didn’t want to answer. When we avoid facing the questions we can’t find healing, have or joy restored, or our life returned. We are hiding in the desert places.
God told Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones, giving power to the Word of God… not the words of friends, not the words of family members, not the words of people who do not care for you… that may cause you to lay down your life and dreams and hopes prematurely.
But, God can’t work if you are living in the past. Facing the bones is not the same as living with them. If you are choosing the live in the bones of the past (of what was, or what you longed for and gave up)… you will be stuck.
When Ezekiel prophesied over the bones, they rose and assembled themselves and flesh covered them… but there was no life in them. It’s not enough to just assemble the bones, but we must ask God to breathe new life into them. To breathe new life into our dreams, breath new life into our relationships, breath new life into our world.
Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, fast forward he’s now in charge of the Pharoah’s household and serves as his right hand man. Everything was seemingly perfect for Joseph, but he still had bones he was carrying.
You can still bloom in the desert places, but you must deal with the bones for the super bloom. God will bring them right to you, bumping you into them. The woman who hurt you, shows up at the same retreat you are at. The person you need to apologize to keeps showing up in the random places. You can’t seem to escape it, because He needs you to face it.
Joseph carried a lot of bones in his life, he had every reason to be angry and hurt. Yet we never see him protesting, trying to prove himself to others, etc. Instead he spent time trying to improve himself. He didn’t worry about others blessings or failures, he concerned himself with his own stuff. This allowed Joseph’s heart to be open for restoration verses revenge.
The emotional cost of carrying a heavy bag of bones is that you will be breathless.
In Gen 42, Joseph faces his brothers… the ones who began His plight. He had to face those bones.
1. His pain was revisited. We don’t have to pretend the pain didn’t happen. The pain is real, but if we hold it in … the pain becomes toxic. We must exhale the pain, and inhale His breathe of new life.
2. He had to remember. It will cost you a lot to keep replaying the past. Remember it, but do not linger, move forward.
3. He had to be a silent witness as they recalled the events. Sometimes we have to witness those who hurt us reckon with their actions before we can release it. But, these silent tears are not in vain they are washing away the past.
“You can use your tears to water weeds or to sprout new life.”
“You can not get back the years of your past, but God can replace them with better years to come.” ~Pastor Charlotte Gambill
4. He had to grieve what was lost. Joseph’s youngest brother had nothing to do with what happened to him, he was just a child of 4 years. The actions of his brothers cost him years of relationship with his brother Benjamin. Joseph mourned what Benjamin didn’t even know about. Instead of bringing Benjamin into the pain, Joseph grieved this in private and then cleaned himself up and got a grip on himself.
“There is a time limit on tears. Stop crying about what was or was supposed to be. Exhale the past, it is gone. Inhale your purpose for now.”
5. He recognized God was behind it. The sorrow Joseph experienced due to his brothers was not wasted, God used it for purpose. A seed was removed from one place and planted for a greater future.
When Ezekiel followed the Lord’s instructions, the bones came together. It was better, but not full. Don’t just stop because things seem better… keep going. Because the fullness comes when God breathes new life into your dreams. New life into your marriage. New life into your relationships. New life into your prodigal. New life into your career.
New breath means you will not just stand but you will LIVE!
God didn’t just raise one set of bones in the desert that day with Ezekiel. He raised an army.
That God is calling to you… will you face your dry bones? Will you settle for better? Or will you command new life into the dry weary bones?
As each of us surrender to God our dry bones, and He breathes new life into our trials… and we are holding on for not just better but best… He is raising a King’s Army in us.