GodReflection: Is Grace Still Amazing?
A cemetery must be one of the most revered places on the planet. All graves have one thing in common—dry bones. Never on any visit has the idea crossed my mind to attempt to change old bones from dry and dead to vibrant and alive.
The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel shares a story that is unbelievable in the face of known facts. God shows him a valley filled with dry bones then poses the question, “Can these bones live?”
To look closer at Ezekiel’s story, we find ourselves in chapter thirty-seven. By now God has shown Ezekiel enough wonders and sounds never seen by a mere mortal that Ezekiel gives the Holy Creator what would seem to be a cautious and yet obvious answer to God’s dead bone question: “O Lord GOD, you know.”
At God’s command the prophet begins to prophesy.
Bones start to rattle. Each bone moves to the exact right place, muscles and tendons form, organs are created, and perfect human skin encases God’s newly assembled bodies.
The bodies lay still and lifeless without the breath of God—like the first human named Adam by his creator. There they lay—dead and useless—without the breath of the Holy to give life.
God is ready for the next step.
Ezekiel follows the Lord’s command, and the prophet speaks once more.
“Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.”
I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.
God’s breathing Spirit makes life possible.
The Almighty’s vision to the prophet looks toward a future time. A time when the Holy would walk the earth as a human born in Bethlehem. He would be killed and then by the same God-breath rise again to live forever.
Hundreds of New Testaments witnesses-including five hundred who themselves were raised from dry bones—saw the resurrected Jesus. He conversed, ate, taught, and felt the touch of others in his resurrected body.
Then, as his apostles stand in his presence, the man from Nazareth ascends in that new body to reunite with Father God.
The facts now made resurrection of dry bones the new reality.
The resurrected Jesus brings life to dead bones.
Because dry bones can now live, I experience new life by belief and through resurrection from baptismal waters. AND, when Jesus returns my body will live eternally sustained by Holy breath.
Dry bones can now live. Even now Jesus is about the business of breathing life into dry bones across the face of the globe. Raised millions worship the Lord in fellowship of churches composed of “living bones.”
I have been thinking about another aspect of dry dead bones.
What about those we know and love who live without Jesus? This is one of those “I believe, help my unbelief” occasions.
From the human perspective it seems as if all circumstances place their dry bones out of reach from resurrection and a new life.
I think of the classic case of the fourth century Christian Augustine. Although, the son of his Christian mother Monica; he lived in complete rebellion to God.
As a loving mother she prayed constantly seventeen years that his dry bones might live. Nothing rattled inside the faithless son. But like the ungrateful son of Jesus’ story, one day “he came to himself” and said, “I have sinned against heaven and before you.”
Once God filled his dry skin with Holy breath, the case can be made that after the death of the apostles, Augustine went on to make the most influential impact upon Jesus’ church.
I wonder if his mother’s prayers were fueled by Jesus’ stories.
At the heart of Jesus’ parables and instruction is the desire of the Holy to breathe life into dry bones. Two occasion come to mind.
He taught, “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7: 7-8)
Again, and again, the mother of Augustine knocked on the door of Holy Father, Son, and Spirit to ask for life to enter the dry bones of her son.
Perhaps, Augustine’s mother thought often of Jesus story found in chapter eighteen of Luke’s Gospel about the persistent widow and the old judge.
Jesus begins the story about our “need to pray always and not to lose heart.” Day after day she went to the judge with her request, “Grant me justice against my opponent.” He concludes his parable with a question that demands an affirmative answer. “Will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night?”
Surely, Jesus listens as I plead with him to stir the dry bones of people I know and love who live without Jesus. Yes, “I believe, help my unbelief.”
What is so amazing about grace? Grace provides life to dry bones. God’s grace can transform bones dried with sin and despair into living tissue that embodies hope, peace, and contentment.
These life-filled bones will be transformed to live forever in the presence of Father, Son, and Spirit. I should never let a day pass without gratefulness for grace that makes such a gift reality.
Together, let’s renew our asking and knocking as we pray for more dry bones to rise by grace.
Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection on Dry Bones and Grace