Dry Bones and Fresh Starts

From dry bones to fresh starts - that's how our God works.
From dry bones to fresh starts – that’s how our God works.

Them bones, them bones gonna’ walk around……

Today, the message at church was about (among other things) Ezekiel, the biblical Old Testament prophet. I  know only a few things about Ezekiel – that there is an unleavened bread named after him that is okay to eat if you are on the Daniel Fast; that he saw a wheel  “way up  in the middle of the sky;”  and – courtesy of another song learned as a child  – I know that God asked  him to raise the dry bones of soldiers into an living army.

Dry bones, like the skeletons we keep in our closets. Living with active addiction is like having only dry bones with which to function in life.

Addiction renders our spiritual bones dry as desert sand. Active disease sucks the marrow from us, the very cells that keep life going. It saps our souls of the muscle to get up and move out of that place, our lifeblood drained from veins and vessels. Without the sinew to hold us together, our skin – protective covering for what has wasted away – falls away until.  Our hope gone, there is nothing left of us but dry bones.

This week, having published my first book – a tome of essays addressing my alcoholism and recovery – my bones have been rattled a bit. I long ago decided that if I were to share my experience, strength and hope with others, it is important to be authentic, but sometimes who I authentically am is messy. In publishing the book, I unlocked the closet, swung the door open, and let the bones fall where they may for all to see. If I tidied up my story, I would be in danger of becoming only a bleached-out, “dry” drunk, and not a person in active recovery.

But it’s hard. It’s really difficult because my humanness – my flesh – still just wants to get a bigger closet for my skeletons.

Until this morning, I had been feeling a little embarrassed going public with some of the details of my story; the graphic nature of my pain. And then in church (of all places!) I was  reminded about Ezekiel, because you see – what God asked him to do is not all that different from what God has asked me to do – what he asks each person redeemed by his love to do:  To spread the message that dry bones can rise up in life again.

In Ezekiel’s own words:

“…Dry bones, bleached by the sun.  God said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ I prophesied just as I’d been commanded. As I prophesied, there was a sound and, oh, rustling!

The bones moved and came together, bone to bone. I kept watching. Sinews formed, then muscles on the bones, then skin stretched over them. But they had no breath in them. He said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man. Tell the breath, ‘God, the Master, says, Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!’

 So I prophesied, just as he commanded me. The breath entered them and they came alive! They stood up on their feet, a huge army.

 Then God said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Listen to what they’re saying: ‘Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone, there’s nothing left of us.’

I am prophesying today as he commands me.  Yes, me. This middle-aged, middle-American, middle-classed woman seemingly of no great consequence….I am prophesying to the breath to those alcoholics and addicts all the world over walking wounded. The hopeless ones.  Because God grabbed me and showed me the bones strewn about, you see. And he says that we are ALL of great consequence.

“I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!”

He is raising an army of the lost and broken, the addicted. God, breathe on these slain bodies! Breathe LIFE!

There is a sound – oh, a rustling! Dry bones knocking together, but then a wind from Heaven giving breath to a  huge, living army. An army that goes forth in flesh to prophesy for the others who have only dry bones with which to function.

Now hear the word of the Lord:

“Therefore, prophesy. Tell them, ‘God, the Master, says: I’ll dig up your graves and bring you out alive—O my people! Then I’ll take you straight to the land of Israel. When I dig up graves and bring you out as my people, you’ll realize that I am God. I’ll breathe my life into you and you’ll live. Then I’ll lead you straight back to your land and you’ll realize that I am God. I’ve said it and I’ll do it. God’s Decree.” – Scriptures from Ezekiel 37 1:-14 (The Message)

Alleluia!  Make it so, God. Make it so.

12 thoughts on “Dry Bones and Fresh Starts

  1. I love how God spoke new life to your dry bones, Jana. And how He has transformed your mess into a powerful message! Also, congratulations on publishing your book! So happy for you!! Can’t wait to read it!!!!

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  2. Good luck with your book. I know how difficult it is to share your story with others but it does help us recover and it will likely help a lot of other people. God bless!

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  3. Oh, what a fantastic introduction to your blog! Karen at Mended Musings pointed me in this direction and… WOW! Every Friday, I go to a meeting with a whole slew of folks in all different recovery programs where we sit with the Big Book and the Life Recovery Bible. We take passages and stories from the Bible and see how they relate to our stepwork. It is truly amazing to find that there are all these Old Testament folks who had the same sort of failings that we have today and how they were called to do good works in God’s name the way we are called to carry the message. We have not yet studied Ezekiel and now I want to bring it to the group because it is so perfect!

    When I came into recovery, I had not eaten a full meal in I don’t know how long. Why would I waste my money on food when I could go score another shot? I was nothing but skin and bones – and that skin was all bruised and scarred. My eyes and my soul were completely void of… anything. I was an empty, hollow thing. I was a lifeless sack of bones. God sent some amazing folks to come speak prophesy over my dry bones and I came back to life in a huge way! The imagery of the bones is so perfect. Thank you for sharing your insight. And… Hi, I’m Laurie. I’m new here, but I think I’d like to stick around. 😉

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  4. Wow! This made my whole day, Laurie. Please DO stick around! We all need each other. I adore Karen and her way with words, by the way. She is amazing. I’m so glad you stopped by here – and so glad that God KEEPS sending us people to encourage, minister, commiserate and rejoice with! You have ministered to ME today with your post. God bless!

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