It’s 2:58 a.m.
God and I have been meeting a lot like this lately.
In the middle of one thing or another. In the middle of the mess. In the middle of life. In the middle of open-ended questions. In the very middle of my story.
While He may not have a need for slumber, I do. My body yearns for the covers. My mind aches to be relieved of its duties. But I roll out bed and my hands run the walls until I find my cane so I can stumble to the living room. I sigh, knowing, I won’t get any more sleep as I make my way to the coffeemaker. It’s barely been a week since I was released from the hospital.
One moment I was dizzy and trying to make it to the kitchen for a glass of water. The next I’m opening my eyes in the hospital. Everything is too blurry to even see. But I hear my husband’s voice. He tells me that he found me on the floor and rushed me to the ER. Then he tells me my brain is on fire. I’m fighting a brain infection. But I can’t talk back. I can’t even sit up by myself. So, I smirk at the irony that it’s my turn to in this hospital bed.
Just barely a month before, Chris and I found ourselves in three different hospitals because he had unexplained heart failure. His heart raced over 300 beats a minute. It would pump so fast; his body wasn’t getting any oxygen. His medical team would race to get his heart to stop until at one point, his whole body shut down. I had lost him for several minutes. Now, both of us were in the middle of fighting for our health after always being so healthy and active. We were well into our 30’s and none of this made any sense.
These thoughts are fresh in my mind as I sit in the dark and question why God likes to keep meeting me between the midnight and dawn. On the couch, covered in my favorite blue blanket, the thick, tattered pages of my Bible fall open to Ezekiel.
And this is what He whispers about our world, my family, and life, but most intensely, my bones.
Heather, do you believe I can make your dry bones come to life again? It’s 3:18, tears fall silently down my cheeks and I whisper, “God only you know that.” And He presses into my bones: “I am putting new breath into you again.”
And I sit there in the silence and think of what He’s telling me.
So, I breathe my first breath and I inhale so deeply. Do you believe in every season I am capable? Do you believe this here in the middle? He then leads me into the story of the valley of dry bones. He whispers how in many places; I am dead and dying because I am weary.
As I read, He unveils the truth about the very middle of the story. “I will put breath into you and make you live again. I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put new breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
This middle of the night moment is a Holy Awakening. This realization that He is with me in the middle. He is breathing new life into me in the middle of the mess. But sometimes we forget because life takes our breath away.
One minute we’re doing life. Kids, laundry, carpool, schedules, work, and dirty dishes. The next, we find ourselves in the messy middle. You learn you have cancer. You want more kids but your doctor says you need a hysterectomy. You’re thriving in a job you love, but your boss asks you to hand over your badge. Your son is the class clown and one of the most popular kids at school and then you find yourself ensuring he’s taking his antidepressants as you lock up all the medications, cleaner, and sharp knives in your home. One minute, you’re doing life, the next you can’t take a breath.
We don’t know how the story ends and we can’t go back to the beginning. But we have to know being in the valley isn’t where our story ends.
So, my friends, this is the work we are doing, to open our lungs and breathe deep and allow Him to breathe life into us again.
And if I’m being honest, it can be downright hard. It’s easy when we are at the beginning. It’s fresh, it’s new, it’s intoxicating.
Like the moment you hold your squirmy newborn and breathe in her scent.
The moment you say I DO to the man of your dreams.
The moment you stand in the living room of your new home.
The moment you survey your new office or the moment you sit in your first Grad class.
The beginning is fresh and new as we unfurl and unhusk a life full of possibilities. But what happens when you’re in the middle of that story?
Because it’s in the middle that takes our breath away.
It’s in the middle where we doubt. It’s in the middle where we learn to dig deep. But friends, it’s being in the middle that counts! Here’s the thing:
Between the deep breaths in and the deep breaths out is the messy middle. Life happens here.
He will breathe new life into you again. No matter how tired, no matter how you ache, no matter how weary, He will breathe life into your dry bones. He is still with you, here in the middle of the valley dry bones, here in the middle of your story. So, my darling, breathe deep