It’s All Ruined

holzfigur-980784_640One simple sentence makes my stomach knot every time I hear it or think it.

This sentence has the power to send worlds into a tailspin, emotions into a downward spiral, and faith into bankruptcy. It’s a short sentence with ancient origins. It was likely uttered for the first time at the dawn of creation and every utterance of it since carries with it the destructive power of its genesis.

“It’s ruined!”

That’s it. One sentence. It’s ruined! Or You’ve ruined everything! Or I’ve ruined it! Or That’s it. Now it’s ruined. Or He ruined his life. Or She ruined their relationship.

It’s an exclamation of despair. Powerlessness. Loss of hope. Loss of innocence. Destruction. Fatality and doom.

Some of us can build or create. All of us can destroy. It’s the rare ones among us with a gift for repairing, restoring, reclaiming, and redeeming what would otherwise be lost.

It’s one thing when a small child weeps over a drawing destroyed for an artful mom to show him how a stray line can be turned into a comical bunny. It’s a completely different thing when that child grows up, chooses to text and drive, causing a car accident that damages other lives. Or a youth pastor runs off with one of the teens and his hypocrisy turns your child away from God. Or in a weary, stressful moment you speak critical, hurtful words to your sensitive daughter-in-law driving a wedge between you that festers for years. Or your husband comes home and confesses he’s made a terrible investment and now he’s lost everything you both had saved.

It’s ruined. It’s all ruined.

A phrase that keeps you from sleep at night or looms large in your waking mind. A phrase that stabs at you when you hear of other people’s children fulfilling their dreams or watch your friend and her husband retire early. It haunts you in the waiting room of the rehab center or the wooden bench at the courthouse or the holiday dinner with the empty chairs.

It’s fine to believe in Jesus when life is whole, relationships are new, babies are healthy, and churches are newly formed. We discover the true heartbeat of faith, however, when we turn to Jesus amidst the ruins.

He specializes in ruins.

Our initial act as a race was to ruin the perfect world God created. He was undeterred. He wove redemption into the tapestry of time and, through Jesus, made us a people charged with continuing the work.

Through the prophet, Isaiah, God sends us His message of restoration: “And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.” Isaiah 58:12

He repeats the message in Isaiah 61:4, tied to the prophecy of the coming Messiah, “They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.”

Jesus is the Redeemer. What is ruined, He can restore. What is destroyed, He can redeem. And God’s plan is so powerful, He includes us in the ministry of reconciliation.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-19

We are not powerless. We live in a ruined world and we face ruined lives every day but we have the power, through Jesus, to rebuild the ruins.

I think about this when I see the destruction of ISIS in Syria. They demolish what others hold sacred – temples, towns, lives. They ruin everything.

There is one who has been bent on ruination since the genesis of the planet. Those who follow him only know how to destroy. This is no special skill. It is a toddler’s thrill to knock down what others build up.

We who know Jesus are not powerless (though loving Jesus among the ruins sometimes convinces us that we are.) We know His redemptive power. We know His restorative gift. We know He is the author of life and has entrusted us with the ministry of reconciliation.

Building is hard work. Restorative, repair work is slow, meticulous, time-consuming, and detailed. It requires patience, passion, dedication, endurance, skill, and heart. But, it is a worthy and admirable work – more powerful and strong than the work of those who destroy.

Destruction will cease. Ruination will have an end. Redemption will endure into eternity.

Let’s not lose sight of this truth as we live for Jesus here among the ruins.

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1 Comment

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  1. Powerful post! We are not ruined, we are redeemed! Also, I just had to tell you Bob Ayala is the music director at my church, Gate City Church, Main St., Nashua, NH in case you ever want to hear him in person. Small world. Big God!