Dry Spirit

Times arise in our lives when we lack enthusiasm. We lack motivation, we lack the drive we need in our lives. We feel constantly drained, almost as though we are just moving emptily through time. I call this spiritual dryness. It’s when you just can’t connect with God like you used to. I think everyone feels this from time to time, some longer than others. Sometimes we don’t notice it, but for the person who is trying to build their relationship with God, it is excruciating and unbearable.

Things seem like they just aren’t clicking between you and the Almighty. But why? You might be praying, reading your Bible, going to church, and doing everything right. But still, it never fails, you find yourself in a place of spiritual dryness. You are thirsty for God, you want to grow and mature spiritually, but you just feel so lifeless and void.

Sometimes it can become so deeply dry, you may feel unmotivated to do some of the things I just listed. You might feel tired. You simply aren’t in the mood to read your Bible, or you just aren’t getting anything out of it. You don’t feel like going to church. Even listening to praise music, which for many people can help revive their spirit, seems empty and fruitless. It becomes mere sound, losing the power you usually feel when listening to it.

So, why does this happen? And how? Take a look at Ezekiel 37.

Now some background information before I hand you these verses. The book of Ezekiel tells the story of one of God’s greatest prophets. The Israelites mingled with a lot of sin, which in turn got them in a lot of trouble. They turned their back on God and forgot how He had brought them out of Egypt, believing it couldn’t happen again. God gave them warning after warning, urging them to turn back to the righteous ways of their fathers. But they completely ignored Him and the prophets He sent, like Jeremiah. Therefore, God handed them over to bondage at the hands of the Babylonians and their pagan king, Nebuchadnezzar.

Jeremiah served as a prophet before the exile, and Ezekiel served as one during it. Ezekiel tells us of all the amazing visions God gives him, and how God promises to restore Israel once it has been cleansed through this trial.


1 The hand of the LORD came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. 2 Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. 3 And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
So I answered, “O Lord GOD, only You know.”
4 Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. 6 I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.” ‘ ”
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.
9 Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the LORD GOD: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” ‘ ” 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.
11 Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD GOD: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. 14 I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it” says the LORD.’ ” (Ezekiel 37:1-14 NKJV)


Dry Bones

The book of Ezekiel is one of my personal favorites, simply because of how many weird visions are in it, like this one. But there is so much to learn from this. The story of the dry bones teaches us so much about our own seasons of spiritual drought.

Let’s start by dissecting the first part of the chapter. Ezekiel tells us that God set him “down in the midst of the valley“. And we know that the valley, throughout scripture, represents a trial or trouble, a time of darkness, a period of life where we are in dire need of hope. Psalm 23 captures the greatest meaning of this when it calls it, “the Valley of the Shadow of Death”.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

From this verse alone we know several things about this valley. We know it is a dark, scary place, and we know that we must walk through it. Emphasis on the word through. Then, we are told we should fear no evil, because God is with us and comforts us while we are in the valley.

Back to the first verses of Ezekiel 37, Ezekiel is placed in the “midst of the valley”. Then, we are told that the valley “was full of bones”. This is an even clearer indicator of why it’s called the valley of the shadow of death. The Scripture goes on to say: “Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry.”

Here is what we must realize from this. Dryness happens in the valley. When you are fighting something, whatever it may be, you use all your strength on fighting it that you exhaust yourself. Tragedy hits. You get laid off, you’re fighting an addiction, you get mixed up in drama, you lose money, you’re sick, your loved one is suffering, you’re fighting depression, you’re battling your mind. You’ve lost all hope. You are in the midst of the valley.

The valley exhausts us, and it saps our stamina. We are left with no spiritual energy when the time comes to pray, read our Bible, or go to church. We’ve developed such an exhaustion, such a weariness, such a weakness that we can’t put our whole heart into our day-to-day interaction with God. And our spirit, like the bones, dries up. Spiritual dryness is often a counterpart or aftermath of being worn thin in the valley.

The famous Death Valley of California is notorious for being one of the hottest places on earth, with summer temperatures being up to 125 degrees and higher. One of the reasons Death Valley is so excruciatingly hot is its elevation. It dips into levels far below sea level, despite being far from any coast. Heat gets trapped in these low pockets, and with the mountains on the walls of the valley, moisture is blocked from the air. Solar radiation beats down into the heart of the valley, sticking in those deep recesses and burning anything found there.4LSUnsK.jpg

Sometimes we find ourselves in the lowest point of the valley. We’re in the darkest point of our struggle. What heat tends to do is it exhausts us. We can walk outside all day and feel fine, but on a blisteringly hot summer day we get tired. Leg pain, headaches, sweaty stickiness, and total fatigue are all things we know from those experiences. So it should come as no surprise when we get to those points in the valley that we are left tired, pounded to the point we’ve lost our drive.

And even if you haven’t necessarily gone through a hardship lately, you can still dry up. You might still be dry from when you were in the valley weeks or months or even years ago. You might be dry simply from a lack of God in your life, which in itself is a hardship of the valley. Spiritual dryness happens to us all.

The Scripture continues:


4 Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. 6 I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.” ‘ “


God told Ezekiel to take action and prophesy. We can’t be cured of a dry spirit if we do nothing but desperately beg for God’s miraculous intervention. God won’t intervene and quench our thirst until we take the action He’s commanded us. We have to speak life to ourselves and those around us.

One of the ways I’ve found to instantly help a dry spirit is to go out and compliment someone and tell them God loves them, and to help anyone with any trouble they may have, trying earnestly to bring them closer to Jesus. You feel a certain rush within your heart after the words come out of your mouth. It makes you stop and think, “Wow, look what God had me do today. Maybe He’s not as far as I think.” He is in the valley with you, after all, let’s not forget.

God spoke the world into existence (Genesis 1:3). Can He not also speak your heart into feeling alive again? Absolutely. But you have to make the choice, you must have the initiative, to take the first step and speak life, both to yourself and others. Be gentle, be kind, be loving.

Once we ‘prophesy’, God says He will make flesh return to our bones, and breath to enter us. Sometimes our depression and emptiness makes us feel like we carry nothing. Like we are lifelessly moving, stiffly, through time. But we hunger for the feeling of having flesh and meat–that fullness and feeling of completion. Like we fit in our bodies comfortably. We also desperately gasp for breath, sometimes the pain of life is like a boulder to the chest, taking the wind right out of us. But God declares that we will be put back in our bodies, that breath will return to us, and that we will be alive again.

Moving on to the next portion of the text:


7 So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.


After we speak life, there is a noise. God does something. And we must realize that our words didn’t cause the noise. Our works, our action did not cause the bones to come alive. God alone has that power. But God does something when we show Him our willingness and our obedience. God tells us to do something that normally would seem  fruitless. Normally you’d think talking to some old bones would be a waste of time. What could they possibly do? But God then makes something out of it.


11 Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD GOD: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. 14 I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it” says the LORD.’ “


The Israelites cry out “our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!” I think we are all no stranger to this. We feel so low all we can do is beg. We may even feel unworthy of anything else. But sometimes we need to fight the rut we’ve fallen into, and sometimes it takes a little bit of extra initiative from our side. We have to speak to ourselves and other people, and put our spirit to work prophesying to itself. Then, it goes on to say that God will raise us from our graves.

There is no greater misery in the world than being unsaved. But misery still remains when we are saved and don’t enjoy it. You may have received your salvation and handed your life to Jesus, and you may have renewed your mind according to what the Bible tells us about joy, but when you’re thrown into the valley you may lose that renewal. You know you’re saved, but you don’t feel saved. You know God loves you, but you’re so worn out you can’t open yourself to Him like you normally would, or engage with Him as usual. And no plant, animal, or any living thing can go without water. Its thirst will kill it, and likewise you will have a dead spirit.

In John 4 we find the story of the woman at the well. She is an adulteress and comes to an old well in Samaria, built by the patriarch Jacob and his sons. Jesus meets her there as she is drawing water out from it and tells her the following:

13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13-14 NKJV)

I love what the amplified version says:

13 Jesus answered her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. 14 But whoever drinks the water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water [satisfying his thirst for God] welling up [continually flowing, bubbling within him] to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14 Amplified Version)

Jesus provides us with ‘living water’. It quenches our spirit when we are dry and dead. This water is a flowing peace that we feel fluidly working through our form. Jesus carried it with Him wherever He went. He moves in grace–gently and carefully. This peace He presents gives birth to joy, motivation, love, etc. It’s like water to crops. Without the water, you have none. And we can count the crops as things like I just listed. Qualities that we want to have as a Christian and ones that clearly mirror God and present our relationship with Him to others.

But how do we obtain this water? This feeling of peace in fluidity?

We have to start with the valley, praising Jesus even while we are in it. Firstly, it helps to have a good start. If you are regularly reading your Bible, praying, going to church, the valley will be a bit easier to bear. If you start out doing those things, it’s much like taking a water supply into the valley with you. And the valley will attempt to tire you so that you won’t want to do these things, but perseverance is key. It is your only lifeline, your only water supply. Without it you will die in the wilderness. It is your sustenance.

We must not only start out right, but we must continue right all the way through. You need to approach the valley with a positive outlook, as much as you possibly can. And attempt to view it for what it is–a challenge of this world that will do nothing but bring you closer to God. You hate it while it’s happening, but you thank God for it, because it is a brick in your tower and makes you who you are. And if you maintain this mindset, the peace of mind will arise, which will block out the drought of the spirit and keep your ‘spiritual moisture’ maintained.

We know that God is in the valley with us. In 1 Kings 20 we are told of a conflict between Ben-Hadad king of Syria, and Ahab king of Israel. Ben-Hadad sends his forces to raid Israel because Ahab would not comply with his selfish demands of handing over all of Israel’s silver, gold, wives, and children. The Syrians attack and the Lord protects Israel, giving them victory in the battle.

“23 Then the servants of the king of Syria said to him, “Their gods are gods of the hills. Therefore they were stronger than we; but if we fight against them in the plain, surely we will be stronger than they.” (1 Kings 20:23 NKJV)

A few verses later:

“28 Then a man of God came and spoke to the king of Israel, and said, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The LORD is God of the hills, but He is not God of the valleys,” therefore I will deliver all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.” (1 Kings 20:28)

God is as much a God over the highest point of your life as He is in the lowest. Your spiritual or emotional elevation does not matter. We change, and our emotions are ever-changing, our mentality and our feelings are fickle and unreliable. But we know that God never changes. He governs everything. He is God when you are doing good and He is God when you are doing bad. God never changes. He is constant.

In Exodus 17, the children of Israel had recently escaped the hand of the Egyptians. They walk through the deserts and the wilderness, the scorching sun at their backs. They become so worn down and thirsty that they contemplate going back to Egypt, where they were enslaved. The thirst becomes so great, they are tempted. (Satan always tries to get you when you’re tired and weaker and easier prey for him.) God tells Moses to strike a rock at Horeb, in the desert, and immediately water flows out of it for the Israelites to  drink.

God is with us in the valley and will keep us from going dry, but we must ask. (“…You have not because you ask not” James 4:2)

In conclusion, we must constantly admit our need for Jesus, endlessly look to His example and develop a mentality of peace, bringing forth other fruits in our spirit and keeping it well-watered. I hope this helps!

BLESSINGS,

Ethan Curtis

 

 

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