As I grow in my new calling as a pastor, I’m learning to enjoy the unique journey. Though I’ve only been pastoring for three months, I’ve found myself playing the role of Ezekiel. Mercifully, I haven’t had to experience the physical ailments that Ezekiel experienced, but I have found myself living out the message that God has given me for the week. My first experience was prior to our first service when God gave me the message of Walking In Authority. He wanted me personally to understand that He would order my footsteps as long as I continued to yield to His will for my life.
I had to live out several other messages, but the most intense was a recent message entitled Dry Bones, Empty Barrels and Earthen Vessels. Probably just like you, I initially could not understand what God wanted me to do with these three items. On surface, it didn’t seem like any of these items had anything in common, but after a very long weekend, God revealed Himself very clearly to me. I found myself overwhelmed because there was a lot on my plate – I was out of sync with my normal schedule. Since I began pastoring, I generally meditate on the Word throughout the week, begin writing down my thoughts on Friday and then complete my message on Saturday. But due to a programming error on one of my major business projects, I found myself troubleshooting errors late into Friday night and all day Saturday. I was cognizant of what I needed to do to prepare for Sunday, but I kept pushing to resolve the programming issue that I created. I didn’t take a break to eat, nor did I take a break to nap (I like naps). By the end of the day, I had given my all and I was all dried up. I didn’t have anything left in me. I was beaten and worn.
As midnight overtook me, I was not prepared “as normal,” but I couldn’t do anything else. In times past, this would have been a great time to panic, become stressed or begin to vent. However, as I went to sleep, there was an absolute peace inside of me as I knew that God was already working this out for my good. Being consistent before Him is great as it builds character and strength, but as believers we must ALWAYS be willing to allow God to change our routine. We can find ourselves relying upon our routine instead of relying upon God. I have learned that to be effective in preaching, you have to allow the Holy Spirit to lead you and you have to have some experience. On this day, instead of following my script, the Lord spoke from my heart and He moved in our service mightily.
What do dry bones, empty barrels and earthen vessels have in common? In their past, they were greater than their present state. All three items are used to provide life or nourishment, but once used they are generally discarded. Each can resemble a stage in the life of the believer. Ezekiel saw a valley full of insignificant dry bones in Ezekiel 37, but God saw a great army. The widow woman only saw death in the soon to be empty meal barrel and cruze of oil in 1 Kings 17, but God saw a well of abundance that would never run dry. Paul saw earthen and worn vessels of clay in 2 Corinthians 4, but God saw a place to store His most valued treasures. All of these items alone are good for nothing, dilapidated of resources and thrown away. Many of us have found ourselves used up in life, taken advantage of and thrown away. But God reminded me that He can breathe life into any dead situation, supply any and every need, and use anything to get the glory!
Dry Bones, Empty Barrels and Earthen Vessels. What the world sees as insignificant, God sees as something great. I’m so glad that His ways are far above my ways and His thoughts are far above my thoughts. He knows “the thoughts that He thinks toward you . . . to give you an expected end.” No matter which state you find yourself in today, remember that God is able to turn your situation around and use you for His glory and honor. Place your life in the hands of the Master today and look for the great things God has in store for you!