When I was in 10th grade I went to a youth camp at Ridgecrest. On Thursday night, that one night when emotions are high and the Gospel is presented as clearly as possible, I sat silently in the center of the room. And I felt within me that it was time. This was the moment where I would have a startling revelation about the course of my future. I’d be called into ministry. Or God would ask me to become a foreign missionary. So I sat. Expectant. And God said: Wait and listen. And I nodded my head and sat quietly. Listening. He said that a few more times and then I was convinced I had listened and waited long enough and now was the moment. The climax. My big epiphany. So I held my breath and leaned in. And God said: Speak Life.
I let out the breath I’d been holding and just sat there stunned. Speak life? That was it? After all of my praying and waiting and hoping and listening, I got a line from a TobyMac song? Speak life. To say that it wasn’t what I wanted to hear would be an understatement. I was disappointed. And I felt just as confused as I did before. How does “Speak Life” help me choose a college major? Decide a career path? Find a job? I felt I had wasted my time and energy.
But I couldn’t get those words out of my head.
So I carried them with me, thinking that maybe I had just received a tiny piece of a jigsaw puzzle that I was supposed to put together.
I’ve kept them with me since then. I’ve prayed those words for myself. I’ve prayed them over other people. I’ve prayed asking God to reveal the truth about what He wanted to do in my life with the words Speak Life. And for years I didn’t understand.
Many of you are familiar with the story found in Ezekiel chapter 37. The subtitle in my NIV Bible reads “The Valley of Dry Bones” or in the Message version “Breath of Life”. And in this story (I encourage you to look it up and read it now if you haven’t) Ezekiel is asked by God if the dry, sun-bleached bones in a valley of bones can live. And Ezekiel answers “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” Then God commands Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones.
In the ancient Hebrew, this word “prophesy“ literally means to speak or sing by inspiration.
Verse 4-5: “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.”
And so Ezekiel prophesies. Ezekiel speaks life into the bones. Do you see it? Ezekiel Speaks Life.
And suddenly, those words made sense. “Speak Life” was no longer a vague indication of a future career, it was the foundational principle of the Gospel. It was the mission of every believer on the face of the earth.
Each and every day we are faced with a world that is a valley of dry bones. And God asks us “Can these bones live?”. To us, who are mere humans, the answer is clear. If it were up to us, the bones would never have life. In Mark chapter 10, the disciples have a similar response.
Verse 26 says “The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
But look at verse 27: “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
God is able to bring life and salvation to the dry bones around us. God desires to restore them. But we must first be obedient to His command: “Speak Life”. “Prophesy to the bones.” Imagine how different the landscape around us would begin to look if we followed through with this instruction. Instead of dry bones, there would be abundant life in all directions. The world would no longer be a valley of dry bones, but rather a valley full of living people. A renewed army, ready to fight for the cause of Christ.
I’ve been called to Speak Life. But so have you. Pray for opportunities. Listen to the voice of God mentioning a specific person or group of people and asking, “Can these bones live?”. He desires to resurrect the bones. To bring life where there is none. Only be obedient to SPEAK. God can handle the LIFE.