Once when preaching from Ezekiel 37 on the valley of dry bones, I had a very humorous and yet very powerful experience. In theatrical tones, I posed the question God asked of Ezekiel, “Son of man, can these bones live?” Then, describing in graphic detail the dryness of the bones, I very dramatically interspersed that question, “Can these bones live again?”
As I continued, a little boy who had appeared to be sleeping on the pew actually was listening very intently. One more time, powerfully and in the deepest of tones, I asked, “Can these bones live?” Suddenly, a shout came from the pew, “Yes!” Needless to say the congregation was lost to belly laughs, and it took no short time to regain their attention.
I have often thought of that incident. Truthfully, my heart resonates with the faith of that young boy. Though we face troubled times, and the moral landscape of America resembles the devastation left in Picher by the recent tornado, I am convinced God can revive the work among His people in our nation. The dead bones in our churches can have the breath of the Holy Spirit fall fresh upon them, and we can live again!
Last week, Bill Robertson, one of the leaders of the awakening in Jena, La., spoke to our staff. He described the miraculous work of God breathing new life into the parched churches and the community of Jena, a little town that had been torn apart by racial tension. But God came down. The dry bones began to rattle.
As he talked about the unbelievable reconciliation between races, church members and even churches, my heart soared. Few things give greater testimony of the powerful work of God than the reconciling of deeply torn relationships. In service after service, people crossed the church aisle to seek forgiveness and find healing for relationships. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.
Churches that had split and were left with bitterness among the people publicly reconciled relationships. Can you imagine when Temple Baptist asked First Baptist to forgive them for severing their relationships? Almost every town has at least two Baptist churches, and it is not because they decided it was time to plant a new church. Church splits result in hurts, bitterness and a fractured testimony to the community. But when God blows across the valley of dry bones, reconciliation takes place.
Robertson also spoke of the conversion of many adults. The conversion of adults is not more special than the conversion of children and youth, but when large numbers of adults are saved, be assured the Spirit is mightily at work.
One last mark of the dry bones living again is the reduction in crime. Jena and the whole parish are seeing crime rates drop as God blows fresh wind and fresh fire upon that community.
I tell you these things because I believe God wants the dry bones in our churches to live again. He wants to step down and do a work that can be described only by the words “mighty” and “miraculous.”
There is a simple key to this and every other awakening in the church. It is desperate prayer-prayer that acknowledges before God and man that the bones are too dry, and nothing short of a miracle can revive them. Desperate prayer marked by faith.
I agree with my little friend. Can these bones live again? Yes! And I do mean YES!