Summary: When we are dried up and burned out in life, it is the Holy Spirit who refreshes us and empowers us for life.
A Message for the Dried Up
I just got my van back after $600 worth of repairs. Oh, what fun to deal with cars! Turns out it was the fuel pump. Apparently, the fuel tank was almost empty and the older fuel pumps in the tank use gas as a lubricant. The pump ran dry and burned out.
Do you ever feel like your running dry and burning out? You usually don’t notice it right away. That’s because you’re so busy. You’re rushing about life like one of those ducks at the shooting gallery, first this way, then that. Back and forth from one appointment to the next. Life gets nuttier and nuttier, stress saps you dry. Tempers are short, pressures are cooking, everything’s a blur. And suddenly, you realize that your original, child-like zeal for Christ has dried up. Not only can’t your faith move mountains, it’s barely crawling deep in the desert of despair; the joy is gone. You find yourself constantly questioning God or hollering at him with a parched heart. Your marriage, friendships and other relationships are reeling. Spiritual study has dehydrated; your prayer life comes in little drips. You feel dried up and burned out.
This is how God’s people felt as they languished away in Babylon. They were captives in a foreign country because they had rejected God repeatedly until he rejected them to ravishing armies of Nebuchadnezzar. Now home was hundreds of miles away. The beautiful city of Jerusalem was a pile of junk; the towering temple was a total wreck. And the people lost all hope. They were all dried up. It was all over. Things would never get good again.
But let’s look at what God, through Ezekiel told these dried up people and what he tells us when we are dried up and burned out.
Eze 37:1-14 1 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. 2 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. 3 He asked me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" I said, "O Sovereign LORD, you alone know." 4 Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, `Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6 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.’" 7 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. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. 9 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.’" 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet-- a vast army. 11 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.’ 12 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. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 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.’" (NIV)
The Spirit refreshes us.
What a sight that must have been. Thousands of bones scattered across a vast valley. Nothing but death for miles. And then God asked Ezekiel, “Son of man, can these (dry) bones live?” It was a picture: could these spiritually hopeless people ever find hope again after all that had happened to them? Or were they too dried up?
Then God did an amazing thing. He brought the bones together and covered them with flesh—the toe bone was connected to the foot bone, the foot bone was connected to the ankle bone. That was amazing in itself, but there was still no life, until the breath, or Spirit, entered them. In the same way, God’s lifeless, hopeless people would only come to life when God’s Holy Spirit entered them.