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Posts Tagged ‘Valley of Dry Bones’

I know, I know… the Dry Bones guy was Ezekiel. Joshua was the oft needle-pointed “Choose this Day Whom you will Serve” guy. But for me, the two danced together today.

I’m feeling the beginnings of a valley of dry bones coming on. There isn’t any plainer way to say it: I’m tired. I’m staying so busy that I don’t spend much time with my husband. I don’t exercise. I don’t clean. (Fortunally, DH is really trying to help out as much as he can!) I don’t really do fun things. All the things I learned about the importance of self-care, both in seminary and by being a preacher’s kid, seem to apply to everyone else but me. As far as I can tell– I’m a super-hero. Except that I’m not.

The last few days, I’ve been praying among other things, that God would make my dry bones rise up. I’m starting to feel brittle, as if I’ve been baking in the sun too long with nothing to quench my thirst. One of the great surprises about ministry thus far is that maintaining my own spirituality is not the easy task I once supposed it to be. In fact, it’s really tough. I spend much of my time in prayer and in reading the scriptures, but sometimes the “business” of it all zaps all the life out of it.

This morning, things came to a head when I purposely set my alarm for 5 a.m.– yeah that’s right. On a Saturday. On my day “off”. I woke up and I was so angry that this was necessary, which was only compounded by the fact that I also worked quite a number of hours yesterday too. Also my day “off”. I began praying as I usually do in the few minutes before my alarm goes off again. And I began to weep from the sheer overwhelmingness of it.

One of the reasons that I was up so early was that I had been asked to speak at my presbytery’s fall Presbyterian Women’s gathering which was to take place this morning. Yeah, I was flattered to be asked to do it, but I was downright resentful this morning to think about losing that much more of my already precious weekend. But I began going over my notes for my talk on Joshua (the subject for the PW’s study for the next…while.) I was opening the talk with Lectio Divina using a couple of early verses from Joshua. “I will give you every place you set your foot, as I promised Moses. No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Suddenly, it dawned on me– that that was a powerful promise made not only to Joshua, but to tired, ordinary, not super-hero, me. I began looking back over my notes about the ways that God showed faithfulness to the promises made to Joshua, and the ways that God was such an adamant defender of the covenant. I had glibly written as a closing line, “It may be a great temptation for you to read through this book, and think, ‘What an amazing man Joshua was!’ But that misses the point. It wasn’t about what a great guy Joshua was– it’s about what a great God Joshua served.”
Huh…I’m smarter than I thought.

I’m still wickedly tired. But slightly restored. And I even had a genuinely good time speaking to all those women this morning. Joshua wasn’t in the Valley of Dry Bones– but even if he had been, God would have been present, and working toward his restoration. Just as God is doing with me.

The subtitle of the Joshua study is: A Journey of Faith. That’s just about the most accurate description of the way things are that I’ve ever heard.

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The prayer of my soul, for our restoration. It came out of preaching the Valley of Dry Bones on Pentecost, as I realized how much all of us ache to be brought to new life. I realized as I was preaching that Psalm 23 has a lot to say about restoration too– and maybe I even like it better when I pray it as a prayer for us, not just for me.

Even as we continue in a rhythm of prayer, living God, we remember that you are the one who sets the patterns of our days. Just when we are the weakest, you hold us with surprising strength. Just when we feel dried out, you bring to us your living water.
We pray now for the skeletons that we have become—bring us back to life, O God.
We pray for those around us that lack hope, that lack promise, that lack direction. Restore them, O God.
We pray for the ones who feel broken open, and have nothing with which to heal themselves. We pray for the addictions they face, for the bandaids they try instead of resting in you. Put them back together, O God.
We pray for the ones who don’t have enough to eat—either real food, or the spiritual sort. Feed them with the bread of Life, O God.
We pray for the ones who haven’t felt loved enough—Put your arms around them, O God.
We pray even for your church, which we tell ourselves is quite healthy, but isn’t at all what you’d have it be. Help us fling wide the doors, and take your good news to all whom we meet. Set us on fire with your spirit, to do your work, O God.
You, LORD are the shepherd, We shall not be in want.
You make us lie down in green pastures,
you lead us beside quiet waters,
you restore our souls.
YOu guide us in paths of righteousness
for your name’s sake.
Even though we walk
through the valley of dry bones,
We fear nothing, for you are with us– your rod and your staff,
they comfort us.
You prepare a table before us
in the presence of our enemies.
You anoint our heads with blessing
our cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow us
as love as we live,
and we will dwell in your house forever.

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