Signposts: Daily Devotions

Thursday, February 5

The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.
—Ezekiel 37:1

Thus begins the famous story of the Dry Bones. Most of us know it from the song that goes something like, “the knee bone connected to the shin bone, the shin bone connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone connected to the foot bone…”

When I used to sing that song at camp or at church, I had no idea what it was about. I had not heard much about the bizarre prophet Ezekiel who had this vision of the valley of dry bones.  Also, I had no idea what the metaphor dry bones meant. As a teenager, I was not aware of how dry and arid and brittle people could feel.

Now that I am no longer in my teens, I have a much better idea of how Ezekiel’s vision applies to us mortals. Most of us have felt dried up and lifeless. Some of us have even experienced broken bones, not to mention broken hearts. 

The good news is that Ezekiel’s vision does not end in the valley of dry bones. Instead, the Lord tells him to speak to the dry bones and tell them that the Lord will cause breath to enter them, sinews and flesh to cover then, and that they shall live. And that is what Ezekiel does:

I prophesied as he commanded me; and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. —Ezekiel 37: 10

My experience has been that at the very driest times, new life has occurred, new breath, new ways to stand, and find my way through a valley. May God grant that sense of renewal to each one of us.

We thank you, O God, for your presence deep within us when we are dry and brittle. Help us to breathe in your presence and breathe out lethargy and despair. Amen.