It’s a mad dash between trying to get the rebellious four-year-old to nap and dabbing on enough under-eye concealer to look presentable while finishing the imminently due assignment before dashing out the door. The crowded campus parking lot with narrow spots is easy to navigate compared to the skill it takes to delegate kids’ schedules in order to pull away from the fray.
I climb the final flight of stairs slightly huffing and make it to my seat with but a breath of time to spare. I look west out the picture windows that span the length of the classroom — foothills and trees and a bustling street, reminders of life and all that keeps breathing.
We do introductions, then go over the course syllabus for English 510: Literature and the Bible. “Now let’s dive into our first class activity,” the professor says. “Turn with me to Ezekiel chapter 37.”
He reads from The Message version a story about dry bones. God grabbed me. God’s Spirit took me up and set me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones.
I follow along on my Bible app, taking in the story to the cadence of the professor’s voice.
He stammers a bit but my eyes stay locked on the words. So I prophesied, just as he commanded me. Then breath entered them and they came alive!
I glance up and understand the cause of the professor’s pause. He’s choked up. Trying hard to swallow the lump in his throat and not let the welling tears spill over.
He regains his composure and finishes the passage. I’ll breathe my life into you and you’ll live. Then I’ll lead you straight back to your land and you’ll realize that I am God. I’ve said it and I’ll do it.
The white-haired professor’s eyes are rimmed a bit red. He cracks a smile and gently shakes his head. He’s been teaching for 37 years and didn’t expect to get emotional, he explains. Then instead of launching into an explanation of the literary devices used in the text or discussing how this passage mirrors another piece of literature, the man behind the podium looks out into the eyes of each attentive grad student and says this:
“As we study the Bible this semester, it’s not just academic — it’s the Word of God. You can study the Bible, as many have, and not believe it. But I believe it. As Christians, the Holy Spirit speaks through the Word. I feel like this course would be a failure if it were only academic.”
Now the instructor isn’t the only one visibly moved.
It’s true, we could spend three hours every Wednesday afternoon dissecting Scripture and analyzing literature and that would be fine. The professor would get paid and the students would earn a grade. But my dear professor understands that the Bible isn’t just another book. It’s the living Word, breathed into Spirit-inspired life by the same God who resurrected dry bones alive and who wants to do life-breathing work in us too.
And it makes me think, what other areas in our lives could we get by with “fine” yet miss out on the fullness of God’s Word and the possibility of experiencing new life?
What if we believed God could breathe life into the weariness of motherhood? Meet us in the middle of the bewitching hour, homework meltdowns, and bedtime battles with living hope?
What if God doesn’t want us just to pin a verse on the bulletin board at work, but He wants us to pin the Word to our hearts and believe it? Be changed by it?
What if we didn’t slink through our church Bible study or morning quiet time in sulky obligation for the satisfaction of a spiritual box checked off? What if we asked God to use His Word to choke us up with the beauty and power of Truth so that we might see new life spring forth from the most barren, unlikely places?
It’s a lot to juggle a master’s program with work and ministry and three active boys. Sometimes doubt creeps in and I wonder if it’s worth it. But now more than ever I’m convinced that going to class each week won’t just be an exercise in scholarly learning but an opportunity for spiritual maturing.
I think we’ve all got some dry bones in our personal valley. Let’s ask God this year to breathe new life in them and then watch in believing expectation.