CARETAKERS

Mature Vietnamese couple at homeReligion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:27

 

They are among us. They may be us. They may take care of us. Selfless people who assume responsibility for the care and well being of another, related or not. The young wife and mother who never leaves her husband’s side as he loses his battle with brain cancer. The pastor’s wife, a retired nurse, who provides all daily cares for her husband with dementia for years until finally, they find a place in an assisted living facility they can afford. The high school music teacher whose Guatamalan student must leave the country when his father is deported, but the teacher surprises him with a plane ticket back to sing in the spring music concert. The mother who cares for her son after he suffers profound brain and spinal cord injuries in a motor vehicle accident that kills his brother, until she and her husband raise the funding to build a special home for young adults with acute health issues.

 

These are the quiet legions of people who set aside their own lives, ambitions, dreams and hopes and adjust to a “new normal,” doing the unthinkable for others who are unable to do what needs to be done for themselves. They come from all ethic, religious, cultural and economic backgrounds, turning their faces to the howling winds of pain and discomfort that others endure. They make life easier for others, often while sacrificing sleep, paychecks, nutrition, good health, and companionship themselves, to meet the needs of others. They are shining stars in service to humanity, surely worthy of those stars in their heavenly crowns.

 

This is what Jesus meant when He said to the curious scribe, “You are not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34). Jesus also told the scribe that the second most important commandment, after love of the one true God, is to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31). To care for someone else at our own expense is one of the most noble acts anyone can perform. If you see one—if you are one—if you have one, you are blessed.

 

Jesus, bless and sustain all caregivers, paid or unpaid, and help them know they are valued in Your eyes. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan tells stories of wisdom, strength, fear, joy and risk-taking. Daughter of a raging alcoholic mother, and survivor of sexual assault at gunpoint, Corrigan has shaken a dismal past and flung herself into the arms of Christ, Who sustains her in her daily walk of grace. She shares with her listeners her incredible story of surviving and thriving through many trials during her seven decades walking this fragile earth. She has been described as a Renaissance Woman, integrating her formal training in psychology and counseling, an enlightening experience as a percussionist for a Polynesian show troupe, and most recently as an inspirational author and blogger. Her exposure to many life experiences has enriched her passion for spreading Christ’s word and helping other trauma survivors. She has a Master’s Degree in Guidance and Counseling and thirty-plus years of experience in the field of counseling and social work.  She lives in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, with the love of her life, Patrick, and their formerly disenfranchised rescue dog Ginger. www.MegCorrigan.com    MegCorrigan@comcast.net

EMPATHS

Father comforts a sad child. Problems in the familyContinue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Hebrews 13:3

 

The Wake Up by Catherine Ryan Hyde is a novel about a successful cattle rancher who suddenly “wakes up” to the animals on his ranch. This seemingly seasoned rancher discovers he feels the pain of the animals he raises and sells, rendering him no longer able to conduct “business as usual” on his ranch. His relationship with a young mother and her troubled teenaged son provides more opportunities for the rancher to experience his profound empathy towards both animals and people, completely changing his approach to life and the animals and people he cares about.

 

While reading The Wake Up, I had an epiphany of my own. With over thirty years as a professional counselor, I have always been a “soft heart,” caring a great deal for the students and clients I have worked with. And as an adult child of an alcoholic mother, I have often accepted the role of caretaker in personal relationships, even when that may not be my healthiest role. This book made me realize how much emotion I often invest in concern about people I don’t even know and may never meet. When I see the news about natural disasters, I am often moved to tears with compassion over how much the people and animals are suffering. It nearly does me in to see images of victims of mass shootings, racial hatred, child abuse—and the list goes on and on.

 

It is not lost on my that Jesus was—and is—an empath too. He labored in prayer for His disciples and all of His followers, and even included those persecuting Him and ultimately executing Him in His petitions for forgiveness. The disciples and the Apostle Paul emulated Christ’s compassion; Paul’s letters are mostly passionate pleas for peace and wellbeing for those whose paths he had crossed. It comforts me to know that Jesus bears my burdens too, including the weight of my concern for those whose lives are filled with trouble. I’m not sure I could live in this broken, sorrow-filled world without the grace and love of my Savior to see me through.

 

Jesus, You said there would be trouble in this world, but thank You for overcoming the world! Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan finds ideas for her devotional blogs in everyday places and events, from comic strips to magazines and books, comments on the fly from people she meets, ancient memories of her childhood, and nigglings from God. To date, she has written nearly 700 different devotions, filling one book of daily readings, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, published in 2015. Meg is working on a second book (Saints TWO) which she had hoped would be completed by now. She posts once a week, which means in seven years, she will have enough entries to fill a second book. Sometimes life gets in the way of writing, so Meg is pacing herself, enjoying spending time with her husband, their four daughters and spouses, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, as well as their rescue dog, Bassett/Beagle mix Ginger. Meg is involved in volunteer work at her church, Christ Lutheran in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, and also with sexual violence/sex trafficking prevention and education. She speaks to groups whenever she if offered the opportunity. She is a voracious reader of other people’s writing, which gives her lots of ideas for more devotional blogs. Read more about her at www.MegCorrigan.com or contact her at MegCorrigan@comcast.net .

BY FAITH

Fifty DollarsBy faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. Hebrews 11:8

 

As a counselor in the two-year college system in my home state of Minnesota, I encountered many students who were down on their luck. I kept a $50 bill of my own money in my desk and loaned it to countless students during my time in that position. I told each one of the students who used the loan that they were on their honor to return the money to me when they were able. No one broke the agreement for nearly a decades. And then one day, the $50 was gone. For good. I do not remember who did not return the money to me; it didn’t matter. Circumstances prevented that person from keeping a promise to me. I just hope that the person did some good for someone else along her or his path in life. I had put faith in more students than I ever thought would keep the “loan” going, and everyone—but the last one—had kept the promise.

 

Hebrews 11 recounts many people God asked to trust him, to obey him “by faith.” The chapter is like the “Cliff Notes” of Old Testament saints who did God’s bidding because they had confidence in His everlasting goodness. From Abel to Enoch to Noah to Abraham and Sarah, “all of these people were still living by faith when they died.” (v. 13). How great a faith must it have taken for them to persevere and continue on God’s path even though they would never see the final results of His plan! We must believe that God has a purpose for each of us, no matter how small and insignificant our daily contribution may seem.

 

Each of the students who borrowed that $50 bill did not let the next student in need down. Each returned that money, in essence passing the loan on to someone else. Disappointing as it may have seemed that one final student did not pay the loan back, the faith of the others was passed on countless times. Can we trust daily that God will reward our obedience to Him?

 

Lord, inspire us as You did the saints of old, to trust and obey You daily! Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan finds ideas for her devotional blogs in everyday places and events, from comic strips to magazines and books, comments on the fly from people she meets, ancient memories of her childhood, and nigglings from God. To date, she has written nearly 700 different devotions, filling one book of daily readings, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, published in 2015. Meg is working on a second book (Saints TWO) which she had hoped would be completed by now. She posts once a week, which means in seven years, she will have enough entries to fill a second book. Sometimes life gets in the way of writing, so Meg is pacing herself, enjoying spending time with her husband, their four daughters and spouses, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, as well as their rescue dog, Bassett/Beagle mix Ginger. Meg is involved in volunteer work at her church, Christ Lutheran in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, and also with sexual violence/sex trafficking prevention and education. She speaks to groups whenever she if offered the opportunity. She is a voracious reader of other people’s writing, which gives her lots of ideas for more devotional blogs. Read more about her at www.MegCorrigan.com or contact her at MegCorrigan@comcast.net .

OPTIMIST AT THE APOCALYPSE

Optimist at the Apocalypse“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down….” Peter, James, John and Andrew asked Him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to be fulfilled?” Mark 13:2-4

 

I recently read an article describing a prominent female political figure as “an optimist at the Apocalypse.” I did not agree with that assessment, and no, I won’t name the political figure or the writer! But I began to think what that would mean to stand watching this world spin out of control and out of existence and be optimistic about that event. Webster defines “optimist” as “a person who is inclined to be hopeful and to expect good outcomes.” And the Apocalypse is described as “the expectation of an imminent cosmic cataclysm in which God destroys the ruling powers of evil and raises the righteous to life in a messianic kingdom.” So observing this “cosmic cataclysm” with mirth and glee might not be everyone’s picture of the “end times.” Hollywood has made many people very rich producing disaster movies that bring viewers to the edges of their theater seats if not their sanity. It is downright scary to consider being a witness to the earth’s demise!

 

The Gospel of Mark recounts Jesus telling the disciples a bit about what the end times will be like. He speaks of false prophets, deception, “wars and rumors of wars,” earthquakes, and famines (Mark 13:6-8). But still the timing of the end will not be clear to us. Many cling to the promise that “the gospel must first be preached to all nations” (v. 10) before the end will come. But we are not to concern ourselves with what we must say if asked to tell why we believe in God’s merciful love, kindness and justice. Jesus says, “Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit” (v. 14).

 

Why is it whenever the disciples—like us—are freaking out about life, Christ just raising His holy hand and says, “Fear not?” Well, if there ever was an “optimist at the Apocalypse,” friends and neighbors, that would be Jesus Himself.

 

Lord, You say “Fear not.” Teach us to trust You today and always. Amen

 

Alone on a Colorado mountain, Meg Corrigan faced the unthinkable, a situation that almost ended her life. Learn the details of her astounding rescue from the hands of a gun-wielding attacker and how she walked off that mountain. Hers is a story of tragedy turned holy, a journey of sorrow and healing, a powerful message of hope in the darkest hour. In her memoir, Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child, Meg credits her resilience to the grace of God. She is also the author of Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist, tales based on her years as a drummer in a Hawaiian show band; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, released this month. Meg is a retired college counselor, author, speaker, trainer and sexual assault survivor. She speaks to churches, civic groups, college students, mental health professionals and law enforcement personnel, as well as youth in juvenile facilities. She lives in Lake Elmo, Minnesota with her husband, Patrick. She loves to coax seemingly dead plants out of the soil in her yard. The couple have four daughters, ten grandchildren and a great-grandchild on the way. Contact her at MegCorrigan@comcast.net or www.MegCorrigan.com .

CRUISE CONTROL

Cruise Control“Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” Luke 8:45

 

There was a frozen fog the morning I picked Agnes up at the farm. Her only child, Edgar, stood peering at me from the barn. I went in the house and helped Agnes pack her one small suitcase, but I didn’t see Edgar sneak in behind me. We turned to leave, his mother hugged him. He looked straight at me and said, “Take care of her.” “I will,’ I said. After forty-six years of marriage, Agnes, a sixty-five year-old farm wife of an alcoholic and violently abusive man, was going to a women’s shelter seventy miles away. The public health nurse had told me the family were “backward.” Edgar did two years in the Army but came right home to help his mother. Seventy milk cows and thirty stanchions meant lots of bellering in the cow yard. His father Alfred could not be counted on. The corn stood unharvested. I didn’t know which was greener: the young county social worker picking Agnes up or the withering stocks in the field.

 

Oddly, we passed Alfred on the gravel road as he was returning to the farm, driving the tractor because he had lost his license for driving drunk. Agnes didn’t even duck, and Alfred wouldn’t know my vehicle anyway. I hit the highway and set the cruise. Agnes stared wide-eyed. “The car drives herself?” she asked. “How can thaThe shelter staff saw Agnes to her tiny room and explained the daily schedule. We all feared she would not fit in with the younger women and their small children at the shelter. But Agnes surprised us. She became the “house mother” to all those new moms; their children flocked to their new “grandma.” Agnes had been courageous to leave her abusive husband. She had turned off the “cruise control” of her daily life of sorrow and found a place where she was useful and cared for. Just as the woman who touched the robe of Christ found there was hope for healing and new life, Agnes found a way to begin again.

 

Lord of Justice, the hands of those suffering domestic violence are reaching out for help. Show them ways to break the chains that bind them and lead then to better lives. Amen

 

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you or someone you know suffers at the hands of an abuser, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-7997233. Is this abuse? Follow this link: https://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/

ETERNAL IMPLICATIONS

EternityFor salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light…live honorably…,not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:11-14

 

It was a terrible week. We had just buried my father in Las Vegas, Nevada. I had flown back to Minnesota with my mother, placing her in an assisted living facility in spite of her pleading me to let her come and live with me and my new husband. I would not last a week with my mother, an eighty-nine year-old chronic alcoholic, living under the same roof as us. But I promised my father I would look after her, and I was doing the best I could. I was being laid off from the college where I worked, and I wasn’t sure I would have another job to go to at the end of the school year. With no time off left, I was trying to liquidate my parents’ home and belongings in Las Vegas via phone and email. A nursing assistant who had cared for my father asked to buy two recliners, but requested I hold the check until the first of the month. In the midst of all this chaos, the check fell out of my purse at a drugstore while I was filling my new prescription for anti-anxiety medication.

 

The pharmacist found the check and called the nursing assistant in Las Vegas. She called me and came unglued. She berated me first for losing the check, then for not being with my father when he died, then for “uprooting” my mother and dragging her to Minnesota in the middle of the winter. For what seemed like a very long time, I listened to her abuse and prayed for serenity. God delivered in spades. I took a deep breath and told her to keep the recliners, no payment was necessary. I thanked her for taking care of my parents when I could not. I am not always so gracious, but with God’s help, I made the best of an awful situation.

 

Jesus, Lord of Peace, help us see the eternal implications of our actions. Keep us in perfect peace. Amen

 

Alone on a Colorado mountain, Meg Corrigan faced the unthinkable, a situation that almost ended her life. Hear the details of her astounding rescue from the hands of a gun-wielding attacker and how she walked off that mountain. Hers is a story of tragedy turned holy, a journey of sorrow and healing, a powerful message of hope in the darkest hour. In her memoir, Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child, Meg credits her resilience to the grace of God. She is also the author of Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist, tales based on her years as a drummer in a Hawaiian show band; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, released this month. Meg is a retired college counselor, author, speaker, trainer and sexual assault survivor. She is a member of the RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) Speakers’ Bureau. She speaks to churches, civic groups, college students, mental health professionals and law enforcement personnel, as well as youth in juvenile facilities. She lives in Lake Elmo, Minnesota with her husband, Patrick. She loves to coax seemingly dead plants out of the soil in her yard. The couple have four daughters, ten grandchildren and a great-grandchild on the way. Contact her at MegCorrigan@comcast.net or www.MegCorrigan.com .

WHERE TO SEND YOUR DEMONS

Demom pigsWhen the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. Luke 8:33

Last Sunday, our pastor, Andy Evenson, preached on Luke 8:25-39, the story of Jesus casting out demons from a man who walked around naked and lived in the tombs in the area of Gerasenes opposite Galilee. When Jesus asked the man’s name, he said “Legion” because there were so many demons inside him. The demons begged Jesus to send them into a nearby herd of swine. The poor pigs were so traumatized by the demons that they stampeded over a steep embankment, plunged into the lake and were drowned. Before last Sunday, I always thought how mad the pig owners must have been that Jesus just gave up their pigs that way. But Pastor Andy explained that the Jewish people thought pigs were unclean animals, so they probably weren’t bothered by their demise at all.

But here’s the most important point of the story: when the newly demon-free man asked Jesus if he could come with Him, Jesus answered, “Return to your home and declare how much God has done for you” (verse 39). I would like to think I “outran” the old demons in my life—the things I did and said and thought before I got to know Jesus—and I’d rather not think about them. But here Jesus is saying we should remain in the places demons had us on the run—the tombs of our old sinful life—and make sure all the people who “knew us when” we committed all those sins could see clearly what God has done to make our lives so much better. Well. Who knew?

Pastor Andy made another really good point in his sermon: in today’s world, we might wish Jesus would cast demons into something seemingly useless, such as mosquitos. I’d like to watch all of them rush into an abyss, never to be seen again. While we’re at it, let’s send demons into robocalls, slow internet, spam email, single socks in the wash (the “hose zone”), you fill-in-the-blanks. If Jesus could banish a legion of demons into some pigs, think what He could do with our everyday annoyances!

God of Great and Tiny Things, rid us of useless sins and small exasperations. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan tells stories of wisdom, strength, fear, joy and risk-taking. Daughter of a raging alcoholic mother, and survivor of sexual assault at gunpoint, Corrigan has shaken a dismal past and flung herself into the arms of Christ, Who sustains her in her daily walk of grace. She shares with her listeners her incredible story of surviving and thriving through many trials during her seven decades walking this fragile earth. She has been described as a Renaissance Woman, integrating her formal training in psychology and counseling, an enlightening experience as a percussionist for a Polynesian show troupe, and most recently as an inspirational author and blogger. Her exposure to many life experiences has enriched her passion for spreading Christ’s word and helping other trauma survivors. She has a Master’s Degree in Guidance and Counseling and thirty-plus years of experience in the field of counseling and social work.  She lives in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, with the love of her life, Patrick, and their formerly disenfranchised rescue dog Ginger. www.MegCorrigan.com    MegCorrigan@comcast.net

Meg Blaine Corrigan tells stories of wisdom, strength, fear, joy and risk-taking. Daughter of a raging alcoholic mother, and survivor of sexual assault at gunpoint, Corrigan has shaken a dismal past and flung herself into the arms of Christ, Who sustains her in her daily walk of grace. She shares with her listeners her incredible story of surviving and thriving through many trials during her seven decades walking this fragile earth. She has been described as a Renaissance Woman, integrating her formal training in psychology and counseling, an enlightening experience as a percussionist for a Polynesian show troupe, and most recently as an inspirational author and blogger. Her exposure to many life experiences has enriched her passion for spreading Christ’s word and helping other trauma survivors. She has a Master’s Degree in Guidance and Counseling and thirty-plus years of experience in the field of counseling and social work.  She lives in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, with the love of her life, Patrick, and their formerly disenfranchised rescue dog Ginger. www.MegCorrigan.com    MegCorrigan@comcast.net

THE JELLINEK CURVE

JellinekCurve860x655No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but…He will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

 

Alcoholism is a progressive disease. Dr. E.M. Jellinek studied alcoholism, addiction and mental health continuously from the 1930’suntil his death in 1963. Thanks to Jellinek’s acute interest in the personal drinking histories of many subjects, the doctor sought to educate the public about the gradual descent into oblivion that chronic alcoholics experience. His “Jellinek Curve” illustrates these deteriorating alcoholic behaviors, as well as the corresponding healthy behaviors when an alcoholic chooses sobriety. It is no coincidence that the “Curve” shows a beginning, a descent into the bottom of the curve, and a not-so-easy climb back out of the depths of addiction.

 

Chronic addictive behaviors, including alcohol and drug addiction as well as gambling, overeating, spending, sexual deviances, and many other obsessions, are indeed diseases (a condition that prevents the mind and body from working normally), and they are progressive (becoming increasingly worse without intervention to stop the process). But one hallmark of these compulsions is that recovery begins with a conscious choice to change. When I read 1 Corinthians 10:13, I am always struck by my own shortcomings. The passage brings me up short when I realize that I can, with God’s help, resist any and all temptations that befall me. I am not chemically dependent, but I have loved and lived with and lost more alcoholics than I care to remember. And I know it is not so easy for them to accept God’s help to end the cycle of addiction.

 

Does 1 Corinthians 10:13 apply to addictions? Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill W. said men and women who abuse substances “have not only been mentally and physically ill, (they) have been spiritually sick.” Many of the most successful addiction treatment programs include faith and spirituality. Clearly, an addicted person needs a profound change of thinking about herself to achieve sobriety, and one time-honored path to positive self-awareness is faith in God. As with any major life transition, support from friends, family, and society—including our faith communities—can improve the journey away from addiction.

 

Healing Lord, touch those with addictions where they need Your help. Restore them to wholeness. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan finds ideas for her devotional blogs in everyday places and events, from comic strips to magazines and books, comments on the fly from people she meets, ancient memories of her childhood, and nigglings from God. To date, she has written nearly 700 different devotions, filling one book of daily readings, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, published in 2015. Meg is working on a second book (Saints TWO) which she had hoped would be completed by now. She posts once a week, which means in seven years, she will have enough entries to fill a second book. Sometimes life gets in the way of writing, so Meg is pacing herself, enjoying spending time with her husband, their four daughters and spouses, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, as well as their rescue dog, Bassett/Beagle mix Ginger. Meg is involved in volunteer work at her church, Christ Lutheran in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, and also with sexual violence/sex trafficking prevention and education. She speaks to groups whenever she if offered the opportunity. She is a voracious reader of other people’s writing, which gives her lots of ideas for more devotional blogs. Read more about her at www.MegCorrigan.com or contact her at MegCorrigan@comcast.net .

SADNESS

SadnessBe gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also. Psalm 31:9

 

I am incredibly sad. As I write this, the Covid-19 cases and deaths are on the rise again, after many states in the US opened up many public venues against the advice of the Centers for Disease Control. As I embraced my sadness, I began to think how much worse the situation is for others in our nation—and in the world—than it is for my husband and me. We are retired, and although we are at higher risk to contract the Coronavirus because of our age and some underlying health conditions, we do not have to leave our home to do much of anything. We can order groceries from home and stay away from public gatherings, plus we have sufficient retirement income so we do not need to work at this point in our lives. We are truly blessed. Others are not so fortunate: they may be forced to work as an “essential employee” and they have many more worries and responsibilities than we do. So…if I’m sad, I cannot imagine the anguish some others are experiencing now. Add to that the current racial unrest following the murders of a number of innocent Black citizens at the hands of police, and we have a powder keg of sorrow, fear and anxiety on top of the pandemic.

 

As I thought about all these people and what they are going through, I was reminded of a favorite Christian song of mine, “Held” written by Christa Wells and first recorded by Natalie Grant. The lyrics relate unspeakable tragedy in the lives of those who have suffered greatly. The chorus reminds us that God is always there and that His promise is to hold us in our darkest hour. The moving words of the song continue: “This is what it means to be held/How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life/And you survive.” For those of us enduring the triple catastrophe of the pandemic, the economic downturn, and the deep-seated racist issues facing our nation, we can know that our God cares and is holding us up when we don’t believe we have the energy to stand.

 

Great God of Compassion, hold us when we are too weak to go on. Amen

 

To listen to the song, “Held” performed by Natalie Grant, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJhsexd8Qqg

EZEKIEL AND THE DRY BONES

Valley of the Dry BonesHe brought me out by the spirit of the Lord…in the middle of a valley…full of bones. There were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Ezekiel 37:1-3

 

“Not quite two weeks after the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died after a now-former Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck, it (was) already clear that what happened to him—and the protests that followed—will be in history books someday,” reported Time Magazine. “The moment is not only a striking turning point in an ongoing Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality, but also set apart by a global pandemic that is disproportionately affecting African Americans.” The questions remained: how long would the protests continue, and would there be real, sustainable, systemic change in the way police interact with the black and brown populations in the United States? I am standing on God’s promise that love will overcome hate and peace will replace outrage.

 

The story of Ezekiel and his vision of the dry bones has some parallels with the George Floyd killing and the world’s reaction. The ruthless Babylonians destroyed the temple in Ezekiel’s hometown of Jerusalem in about 587BC. The Israelites were discouraged and thought God was not powerful enough to protect his chosen people. But God gave Ezekiel a vision of a valley of skeletons and instructed Ezekiel to prophesy hope to the bones. Flesh and sinews appeared on the bones and God breathed physical and spiritual life into them. The vision meant that the Israelites would survive the oppression they were experiencing. More importantly, the people would survive because of God’s power and love for them throughout their dismal circumstances.

 

Ezekiel’s story became popular among black preachers after the Civil War. James Weldon Johnson even wrote a song, “Dem Bones,” which became an anthem for early black social movements. And today, we see the Black Lives Matter movement engaging the entire world in support of humane treatment for people of color. God can put new life in those who have been oppressed far too long. Let us all work towards a world of zero oppression.

 

Lord, speak to the weary bones and hearts and souls of the oppressed. Let them feel Your resurrecting power. Amen