What drives you? What motivates you? Daniel H. Pink writes in his book, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motives Us” there are three essential elements that push people forward.
A) The first is Autonomy – The desire to direct our own lives
B) The second is Mastery – The urge to get better and better at something that matters
C) The third is Purpose – The yearning to do what we do in the service of something bigger than ourselves
As we consider the elements that push us forward, let us also consider that the pursuit of fulfilling each of these drives often leads us down many different paths and causes us to knock on many different doors. While I do believe Daniel Pink identifies elements that are given to us by God I also believe that we run into problems when we allow our will to distorts each of these elements causing us to take them to the extreme.
When taken to the extreme, the drive to direct our own lives becomes a drive to totally control our life and the lives of those around us. We are not happy merely making decisions and choices for ourselves, we feel the need to make decisions and choices for others.
When taken to the extreme, the drive to get better and better at something that matters to us transforms us into a tyrannical dictator placing unrealistic expectations on those around us. We expect all to share our passion and desire for something that matters to us.
When taken to the extreme, the drive to find purpose and meaning causes us to withdraw from those around us cutting them off as we take time to find ourselves. We expect that they should understand that we need to check out of the relationship indefinitely and the relationship will be better because we will be better. All we are asking them to do is should the burden until we discover our purpose.
The entire idea behind drive and being driven is that we are not where we believe we should be. In response to this belief we set out to acquire that which we believe will complete us, fulfill us, and/or make us happy. In essence, something is missing.
The text opens with the words, “The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD.” The Septuagint translates this verse simply – “Jehovah carried me in the Spirit.” The term carry means to hold up, support, to bear the weight of, to undergird or to keep from falling. Another idea behind the word carry is to take something from one place to another. Usually, when we carry something we have a) a specific purpose in mind for the object that we are carrying, and b) we have a specific destination in mind where we plan to use the object that we are carrying.
The word for Jehovah used here is Elohim, which is the proper name for God. It means, the God who is self-sustaining. Literally, God does not need any help in fulfilling His will or His purposes. Another interesting observation here is that as God was carrying Ezekiel he did not resist. Ezekiel did not put up a fight, he did not grumble or complain. He simply went with God.
So then, the fulfillment we desire and are driven toward is found in allowing Jehovah to carry us. When we allow God to carry us, we will find God has both a specific destination and a specific purpose for us when we reach that destination. It seems to me that being driven is nice, but being carried by God is better. One of the wonderful things about God is that God deals in the specifics. God has specific purposes and specific destinations for those whom God carries. There are no extremes to worry about and no wasting of time or motion, everything is as it is supposed to be and God will take us to the place where we are supposed to be.
Perhaps, what has been missing is that we have been trying to carry ourselves. Perhaps we have been trying to shoulder our own burdens and deal with our own issues all the while suffering in silence. There is no need to do that any longer, unless we want to or choose to suffer needlessly. Rather, let us allow Jehovah who does not need any help from us or anyone else and is infinitely more capable, bigger and stronger to carry us.
I used to pray God help me make it through the day. I no longer pray that prayer. Now, I ask God to carry me through each day. The difference is, when we ask God to help us make it through the day we are primarily relying on ourselves and asking God to stand-by incase we need Him. On the other hand, when we ask God to carry us through the day, we are ceding control over to God and allowing God to take us to where we need to be.
What about the question of how God carries us? According to the text, God carries, leads and guides by His Spirit. The Spirit of God is the presence of God. It is through God’s Spirit that we are able to perceive, sense, realize, and know God. The Spirit of God is also the empowering agent of God. Through the Spirit of God believers are able to receive God’s divine supernatural power to do and accomplish all that God places before them. The Spirit of God is the source of God’s provision. Through the Spirit of God believers experience God’s love, peace, grace, mercy, protection, promises and all of the other blessings God outlined in God’s word. So when we say God carries us by His Spirit, what we mean is that God through His Spirit is in the drivers seat of our life and wherever God’s Spirit leads we follow. This is what Ezekiel did he followed the leading of God’s Spirit.
God carried Ezekiel into a valley filled with bones. Ezekiel made two observations, first he observes that there were a lot of bones and second he observes that the bones are very dry. As Ezekiel is surveying what is before him, God asks him “Can these bones live?” Now, Ezekiel does what any normal thinking person would do, he considers the enormity of the task and he also considers the nature of the task. Before he impulsively responds yes or no, he thinks about the condition that the bones are in “very dry” and the level of difficulty. Wisdom dictates the surest way to control impulsivity is to consider. Before we respond on a whim we should take time to think about what we are being asked.
The wise thing to do in any situation that requires our input is to examine the situation and determine the level of difficulty. It is easy to say something can be done until we actually have to do it. It is easy to take potshots at others because they are unable to accomplish things that we think are a no brainer. However, a failure to consider how much effort and work something will take to accomplish will invariably lead to frustration and in most cases simply walking away leaving the job unfinished.
After deliberating, Ezekiel tells God – “I don’t know.” The truth is that some jobs are bigger than we are and require much more effort and energy than we can muster in the natural. However, there is a huge difference between “I don’t know” and “I can’t.” “I can’t” closes the door to any and all possibility of accomplishing a task. “I can’t” says there is no way. It says there is no answer to the question, no solution to the problem, and nothing that can be done on my part – case closed.
On the other hand, “I don’t know” leaves the door however slightly ajar. It leaves the door of hope and possibility open. It says potentially there is a way, but I am unaware of it at this time. There is nothing wrong with not knowing because no one knows everything except God. Therefore, to admit that we do not know allows us to turn to someone who does know – God.
The difference between “I can’t” and “I don’t know” is:
- “I can’t” says I am beyond help so do not bother and please do not try to help me.
- “I don’t know” is a cry for help it says if you know the answer or possess the solution, by all means share it with me.
“I can’t” preserves our pride and helps us to save face. “I don’t know” demolishes our pride and keeps us humble.
At this point I would encourage us to go back to verse 1. In verse 1 we find a reality that every believer and would be believer needs to rap their minds around. God at various times will carry His people into difficult, challenging, and seemingly impossible situations. This is a truism for believers. The companion to this reality is that, it is in difficult, challenging, and seemingly impossible situations that we often discover God’s purpose for our lives. As we will see in a minute, God carried Ezekiel to a place of need. God carried him to a place where God through His Spirit could use Ezekiel. It is no surprise that some of the greatest regrets people take to the grave are those they thought and believed were to big for them to handle. I want to encourage you do not walk away from challenging, difficult, and seemingly impossible situations – it is there we may discover that what we lack naturally God through His Spirit will provide supernaturally.
After God has carried Ezekiel to the place where he is needed and can be most useful, we also see an example of God through His Spirit making provision for the job before Ezekiel. Three times in the first 14 verses God instructs Ezekiel to prophesy to, literally God instructs Ezekiel to speak to three different entities. In each case Ezekiel is not to speak what he thinks, what he has learned in school, or even what he has heard from someone else. He is to speak the words that God gives him and tells him.
God instructs Ezekiel to speak to “The bones,” The breath,” and “The resuscitated people.”
a) In speaking to the bones Ezekiel is to speak to the situation and the condition
b) In speaking to the breath Ezekiel is to call down from heaven the resources needed to change the condition and/or situation
c) In speaking to the resuscitated people Ezekiel is to reveal to them what God has in store for them
I find it interesting that people can recall the works and writing of poets, authors, song writers and great thinkers, but often find it a challenge or difficult to remember a single passage or verse of scripture. Rather than turn to philosophy, classical literature, or even self-help manuals Ezekiel uses and relies on the word of God to accomplish what was seemingly impossible.
The apostle Paul writes in the book of 2 Timothy that “Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another – showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way.”
What about us? Have we ever tried to speak to?
a) The situations or conditions we face
b) Heaven and call on heaven’s resources
c) People and let them know what God has in store for them
Maybe this is what has been missing. We have allowed situations, conditions, the lack of resources, and/or people to dictate what the outcome will be for us. I would encourage us to try to speak to situations, conditions, heaven, and people and see what God through His Spirit will do. Try it we have nothing to lose but potentially everything to gain.
How can we apply this text to our lives?
1. As believers we must accept that wherever God places us we are charged with the responsibility of bringing the good news of Jesus Christ.
2. We must believe that we are there because God has identified a need that exists and that God working in the person of His Spirit through us intends to meet that need.
3. We must see ourselves as instruments of God and when we do situations and circumstances that seem like hardships God through His Spirit will transform our perspective to see them as opportunities to be used by God for the fulfillment of God’s purposes and the discovery of our purpose.