With men, we talked about our tendency to either be too passive and fall short of God’s best for us, or being too aggressive, trying to control things ourselves instead of following God and His leading. In Ezekiel 37, the prophet has a vision about dry bones, and through God’s power and working through Ezekiel, the dry bones come back to life into a stunning and powerful army.
For women, the tendency is to compare ourselves with others, and to be perfectionistic in unhealthy ways. But in Hebrews chapter 12, we see that we are present with a great cloud of witnesses (saints who have lived before us) and that Jesus is our vision, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Four things that these passages lead us to, related to men and women.
First, we have to change the scorecard:
Our version of the scorecard is success, here and now. Financial, political, relational success. And those aren’t bad things, God wants us to do well there. But we have to take an eternal view. Our scorecard reading of the dry bones would be God raising up Israel to crush, Egypt, and Babylon, and you know, Rome. But that isn’t how the army played out. God’s army… and His purpose was spiritual and eternal. God’s scorecard was to bring a strength to the Hebrews and give them the grace to endure through generations and bring us Jesus.
Our scorecard is based on looking to Christ. He is the author, the founder and the race we are running isn’t against the other people we see. It is a race that God has set before us – and He has given you a race that is tailored to you and you alone. Stop looking to Instagram and look to Jesus instead. We don’t have to be perfect in our own ability – we’ll never get there. Let Jesus perfect us instead.
The world wants us to see things here and now – but God wants to give us new eyes – we have to change the scorecard.
Second, we can’t reach the new scorecard alone:
The second thing is this… we have to see that the new scorecard isn’t one we can fill out ourselves. Ezekiel, can you through your own power bring these bones to life? Can Hemingway, through your power as a dominant alpha male bring the bones to life? No! Too often our response to the bones is to give up – to say that we can’t do it and be passive, just accepting things as they are. Or our response to the bones is to aggressively rail against the injustice and beat our heads against a fight that we will never win in our own way. We have to look at the situation and say, this is beyond us. I’m not strong enough, not smart enough, not good enough to move the bones. My own ability to navigate the passive or aggressive dangers as a man will only lead to failure, and more bones. More stench of death. But instead of controlling things ourselves, we have to say, like Ezekiel, “Only God knows the way forward. Only God has the power to make this change.”
When we "get" this idea, it is incredibly freeing. We can take a deep breath and relax. And we can ask God for help. Help that will allow me focus on loving the people around me, help me set aside the things that I struggle with, that weigh me down. The gospel isn’t based on your ability to do it better than someone else, or getting it exactly right, every time. The gospel is based on the redemptive power of what Jesus did and the power of the Holy Spirit to put you in the center of where God wants you to be. No one can be you like you can, God has a unique role for you to play and He’s designed you with intent.
Third, winning isn’t winning, winning is playing our part well: By the scorecard of the American dream, the Bible is filled with amazing failures. Isaiah – speaking and no one listening. Jeremiah standing in the rubble to Jerusalem in Lament. Ezekiel having crazy visions and laying on his side and smashing clay pots – if he came in with his resume, you would call security and he would bounce on the way out of the corporate campus area. But when we get it, when we are centered in the gospel of Christ… we have a part to play – and the things God does in us reaches down through the generations to accomplish His purpose.
The words of Isaiah have been a deep blessing to every generation since he wrote his inspired words. Jeremiah brings us comfort even today, thousands of years later. Ezekiel gives us hope… but we have to hear God and we have to speak His words over our situation, over our communities… over our families and over our nation. God calls us to prophesy and when we play our part well, He fills us with power – it may not look like the American dream – but it will undo the work of the enemy and bring amazing things to life. We aren’t responsible for the victory; we aren’t responsible for the results – those are in God’s hands.
Fourth, the key is trust: If you’re in a situation that looks bad on paper, trust. That’s your way out. Look to God, ask Him for help, listen. Respond. Don’t be passive and don’t try to control everything. Say God I trust You – and I trust You beyond my ability to understand it, beyond my ability to fix it, beyond what it looks like while I’m frustrated and surrounded by dry bones. Trust and press deeply into God’s love and find the peace that He wants to bring you – that peace will trump our ability to fix it ourselves.
We need to change the scorecard, understand that we can’t do it alone. Set aside our idea of winning and press into playing our part well… and the key is trust, deciding to really trust that God knows what He’s doing and He has the bigger picture well in hand. There are two incredibly funny videos where Jeff Gordon takes an unsuspecting passenger (test drive with a car salesman, and pretending to drive a taxi cab) for a wild high speed ride on a test course without their knowledge.
I was amused by the Jeff Gordon driving videos, but an element that happened in both of them, really struck me. The passengers are staging a nutty, because they think they’ve been hijacked by a crazy person and death is imminent. They are yelling and cursing, they are trying to bargain and when that doesn’t work, they start threatening. They are not happy about their situation, which looks like it’s totally out of control.
But at the end, when the reveal happens, and they realize that it was a setup and that one of the best drivers in the world was at the wheel, they are asked a question. Jeff asks them both times, “Hey, do you want to go again?”
And both times, they, with no hesitation, say, “Yes!” Isn’t that amazing? Knowing that the guy driving the car isn’t an idiot, but is one of the best in the world at controlling the vehicle changes everything.
Listen, when it comes to life, when it comes to being the man or woman of God He is calling you to be; when it feels like life is completely out of control… know that God is driving the car and you’re in good hands. So go again would you?
It will be a great ride.