A friend of mine recently talked to me about her family’s wait through a lay-off and subsequent job-seeking trial. She shared how hard the wait was. This is so true for any wait of any kind when we sit in the valley and can’t see the other side. I haven’t walked through that particular job wait recently, but I have waited out months on several prayer requests that have roots deep into my heart. We all can relate to that at one point or another. It’s the human condition: We sometimes cannot control ending up in the valley. And we do the best we humanly can, many of us, but we ultimately can’t rush the view of the other side, the one where we start climbing back up that majestic mountain of answers. This friend is one of my “authentic” peeps, the kind you can be real and raw around, no pretenses. So I said what I said to so many others in moments like these: “You are in the valley, and valley walking sucks.”
“Sucks” is not a polite word, but I don’t mean it in the way you might be thinking. Maybe I wouldn’t use it from a pulpit or even in my junior high Sunday School class. But sometimes “sucks” just nails it. Because it sucks the life and energy out of us…or tries to. Because it sucks in good and bad, like a vacuum that consumes the Polly Pocket shoe as well as the dog hair and pine needles it was meant to pick up. Because after it sucks it all in, we have to go through the vacuum bag or bagless canister and sort through our trash: what is not good to think on or dwell on—and what is. Because when I am valley walking, I find it is so easy to have my attitude suck in bad things as well; it sucks in negativity and discouragement and wants to then spew it back out.
So I keep in mind these verses below, where God is speaking through Ezekiel the Prophet that He will breathe life into the dry bones in the valley and bring His people back to their land. What? Valley walking won’t be forever! And my friend exhibits this beautifully through her trial. Trusting in this promise is the only way to walk until we get to the other side without leaving shrapnel evidence of ourselves all over the valley as we cycle through anger, disappointment, and grief in the wait. And you know what happens with shrapnel in the valley? It’s a minefield for those walking behind us. And I want to do better than that. I want to believe He will breathe life into the dry bones in my valley—in your valley—because we asked Him to, and that we will get up with renewed “tendons and flesh,” walking out stronger to the other side, His breath of life in us, if we trust Him.
Ezekiel 37:1-14, Ezekiel the Prophet narrating
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “O Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
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 from the four winds, O breath, 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.
Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”