Fall is possibly my favorite time of year. I love wearing a jacket or a sweatshirt out on a crisp morning. It is not yet cold enough to be unbearable but it is cool enough to get your senses moving as you exit the house. For five years, Kendra and I served a church just outside of Portland, Maine. Autumn in New England is breathtaking. The foliage there bring “tree peepers” from all over the world to see the changing of one season to the next.
However, as fall continues to that time when it is not quite winter, the tourists turn away. There is not much of a draw to come and see bare trees waiting for the first snowfall. November is a rough month in New England. The sky gets dark early and the temperature begins to fall at a steady pace. There is a sense of dread, as the upcoming harsh winter is foreboding. Everything seems dead. There is little life left. The trees stand leafless, the grass is brown and lifeless, and the sky is an overcast of grey. What just a month before had been beauty at its finest, is now bleak and without hope.
I think we have seasons like this in our own lives. We may move from a time when we sense the beauty and majesty of God into a bleak and bare time in our spiritual journey. It is hard to remember the magnificence of the fall when winter is looming.
This makes me think about Ezekiel and the valley of dry bones. God’s messenger was standing and looking at what seemed to be a hopeless situation. Israel was in exile. The sin of this nation had enslaved them to the Babylonians. Thus far, the message to Ezekiel was that there was nothing but destruction coming to Israel. The situation was as bleak as the early winter.
But at this valley of dry bones God gives Ezekiel the key to restoring life to the spiritually dead. It was simple but challenging:
"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. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. 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.’ So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army."
The Word of God spoken to these dry bones brought them to life. God breathed life into the dead when the prophet spoke His Word to them. God’s Word can have the same effect on our spiritually dry times. When things seem lifeless and dark to us, a return to God’s Word can breathe new life into our spirit. The Scriptures are resplendent with verses of hope and encouragement. In our darkest times we need to echo the psalmist when he says, “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word" (Psalm 119:28) I challenge you to return to God’s live giving Word today to find the strength you need to prepare for the winter of your spirit that is sure to come.
-Jasper Rains is our Minister of Discipleship and Administration. He has been part of the Parkway family since 2005.