Each of us have a past, each of us have had things happen in our lives, either by our choices or the choices of others, that have impacted us in ways that leave us hurting, confused and pondering God’s plan. The cycle of sin continues until God’s final word makes it no more. Here is a message from Donna Ryan, one of our housemoms who has served at Big Oak Ranch for over 15 years. She speaks of the blessing of Big Oak, but more so of the blessing of a great God who wipes away the sting of sin and makes dry bones come alive.
Valley of Dry Bones - Ezekiel 37:1-10
37 The hand of the Lord was on 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, “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[a] 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, breath, from the four winds 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.
Big Oak is a beautiful place, a beautiful place in many ways. Beautiful in its landscape, in its creatures, in its quietness, in the sounds of the kids playing and laughing, in its people who desire to serve the Lord and breathe life into hurting children. Several years ago, these verses were shared at a staff meeting by another colleague. She compared the valley of dry bones to Big Oak Ranch. Until that day, I had never read these verses but they have stuck with me since. They are on my mind often.
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[a] 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.”
I see the hurting, joyless, sad, beaten down children who come to us for help, for love, for comfort, for peace, for safety, for family. Some have lifeless eyes. Some stand with their heads down. Some are in chaos and can’t be still. Some are obnoxious. Some are quiet and loving while still some are distant. Their hearts are dead. We can’t come to understand the hurt and neglect they have experienced. We try to but we will never know their entire story and where the hurt comes from. But, God knows their hearts, their hurts, their chaos, their needs and He knows it better than they do. THEY ARE HIS CHILDREN. But when we pour God’s love, His words, His deeds - when we are obedient to the Holy Spirit - these children, these dry bones, come to life. They begin to smile, laugh, be a kid, settle down - be the child they were created to be. Yes, they still have hurts, baggage, things to let go of, even manners to learn, but they are alive. I HAVE SEEN THIS. GOD is holy - King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I have come to realize that He has brought US adults and OUR biologicals together, to two plots of land that are both valleys of dry bones, to love His children and be a vessel for His spirit to heal them. Yes, of course, the Holy Spirit can do it without us but God is giving us the blessing of being a part of their healing.