When you open a bottle of Champagne, the first thing you think of is celebration. Images of weddings, New Year’s Eve gatherings, sports championships, anniversaries, birthday milestones, and major business deals may immediately come to mind. It is during these rare moments in life where a refreshing bottle of Champagne truly captures the joy and hopefulness of the festive occasion.
The most obvious feature that makes Champagne distinct (or any sparkling wine for that matter) is the bubbles. The bubbles are what give this wine its vivaciousness, its splendor, its spirited joyfulness and luster. What you may not know is that the bubbles are the result of a second fermentation the Champagne goes through (the first fermentation turns the grape juice into wine, the second creates the bubbles). The second fermentation does not happen naturally, it requires a Champagne maker to initiate the process. It is the hands of the Champagne maker that make the bubbles possible. Without the Champagne maker initiating the second fermentation, you are left with a naturally acidic, austere, lifeless, bone-dry, flat wine. Champagne minus the bubbles is nothing to celebrate.
Maybe the image of Champagne before the second fermentation describes an area in your life right now. Maybe it describes your whole life. There is something that is lifeless, hopeless, acidic in your life. Maybe it is your relationship with your spouse, your child, or your parent. Maybe it is your finances or work or a dream you had that is now bone dry. Maybe life is currently austere for you. Maybe it has been harsh for many years, perhaps decades. For you there is nothing to celebrate in this area of your life—only mourning, a sense of despair, fruitlessness, or defeat.
Maybe what God showed the prophet Ezekiel in the sixth century BC is an image that describes where you are right now in life,
The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. (Ezekiel 37:1–2)
The image was a symbol of what the Israelites were experiencing in captivity in Babylon (located in modern-day Iraq), a place far from their home in Jerusalem. The Lord told Ezekiel: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off ’” (Ezekiel 37:11). That might be you right now. Your “bones” are “dried up,” your “hope is gone,” and you feel “cut off” from the life you once had or where you want to be in life right now. In fact, it describes most people at some point in their lives, maybe multiple times. It is during these moments in life that we all need to go through a second fermentation, a spiritual renewal in our lives. We need to ask God to initiate the process, to make something that is lifeless in our lives into something that “bubbles.”
It is the very nature of God to bring renewal to the dead things in our lives. God was not showing Ezekiel these dry bones to be spiteful. On the contrary, God showed Ezekiel these dry bones because He was planning to bring spiritual renewal to His people Israel. Nor does God show us our dry bones with the intention to leave us to wallow in our misery. Instead, God reveals our dry bones because He is planning to do something brand-new with them! In the same way the Champagne maker causes the second fermentation, we can experience the “bubbles” of a renewed life when we allow God to get involved in our “valley” full of “dry bones.”