From the Kitchen Window - Ruins
Words by David Hollows
When you are on holiday, do you choose to visit ruined sites such as castles or religious buildings?
There are many photographs in boxes stored in attics which prove the visits to Egyptian pyramids or the splendors of Rome.
Those of us who choose to walk as part of our healthy lifestyles often walk locally on ancient footpaths, pack-horse routes or former roman roads.
If you are a member of the National Trust, you will have automatic entrance to many local and national ruins where to stand still in ruins and imagine life as it was is very much part of the magic of the visit.
One particularly interesting aspect of visiting ruins is when cultures come together. For example, in northern Israel in the same small space you may visit a Crusader castle which stands next to a Roman road on which there are the foundations of former Israeli homes. In southern Spain there are buildings in the same area which reflect Catalan, Arab and Roman influences and in many African countries the evidence of colonial influence is very visible and identifiable in the local culture.
A visit to the ruins at Chester or York is a popular event with school groups and in Manchester recently the discovery of a Victorian baths and laundry has proved very interesting not only because of the type and position of the building but also because of the excellent condition of the tiles which have been uncovered.
Photo by Greg Willson via Unsplash
Some people spend quality time restoring ruined farms, barns or cottage for habitation whereas for many of us, we prefer to visit ruins locally, nationally or internationally such as the famous Pompeii caused by natural disasters.
Unfortunately, some of us look back on our lives and see the ruins of broken lives, events that went wrong, hasty decisions and long-lasting hurts which were self-inflicted or caused by others. Some of us even continue to live in these ruins rather than try to leave them behind in order to move on in life.
The Bible is no stranger to this idea of ruins but God does not allow this issue to prevent His plan nor to damage people’s lives.
Following the total ruin of the earth by the flood, Noah rebuilds creation (Genesis chapter 9).
Solomon’s grand temple in Jerusalem is destroyed (2 Chronicles chapter 3) and the people of God taken into captivity in Babylon (2 Kings chapter 25) but Nehemiah is given the opportunity to return and rebuild.
In the narrative of the healing of the man brought by his friends to Jesus for healing, the roof of the house is ruined as the friends tear the roof apart in order to lower their friend to Jesus. The man on the mat has a ruined life owing to his health condition but Jesus restores the man to full life just as the roof would later be repaired.
More ruined lives are restored by Jesus: He heals the man at the Pool of Siloam (John chapter 5) as well as the woman whose health issue had caused ruin for her for many years until the moment when she touches the clothes of Jesus (Matthew chapter 9) Jesus restores the ruins of broken relationships; the Samaritan woman He meets at the well at noontime (John chapter 4) and Zacchaeus with his customers (Luke chapter 19).
God saves Paul from the ruin of the shipwreck in order that Paul is then able to go to Rome and share the faith with so many others (Acts chapter 27) and to prove that ‘all things work together and are for good to and for those who love God’ (Romans chapter 8 verse 28).
During the English Reformation, the abbey buildings and lands were often left as ruins by Henry and his men and a similar approach was taken by Cromwell during the English civil war. Yet, God kept the faith and His people alive despite the ruination of the church buildings.
We learn from the persecuted church across the world that church buildings are burned or demolished by government of other religious groups yet, despite the ruin of buildings the faith of believers continues and grows.
Mother Theresa is one example of many of believers called by God to restore and rebuild the ruins of so many lives as are groups such as the Leprosy Mission. In the book of Ezekiel there is this episode;
Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘’Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life...’’’ (Ezekiel chapter 37 verses 4 and 5).
Everything looked hopeless for the people of Israel as the temple was in ruins, Jerusalem had been destroyed and many were in captivity. God gives Ezekiel a vision of the valley full of dry bones which He brings to life in front of Ezekiel.
When everything appears to be lost and our life is in ruins with our hopes dead and buried, our God can bring them back to life, if we have faith strong enough to trust God.
If we see the ruins of the lives of those around us then, part of our discipleship is to pray into those situations that God will restore and to offer the Good News that nothing is impossible for our God.
You may find the following hymn useful;
I need Thee every hour (Mission Praise 288)
You may find this prayer helpful:
Lord, you have called us to love and serve you. Give us the wisdom to know what we should do, the courage to keep on loving and the faith that will see us through the good times and the bad. Give us the strength to move out from the ruins of our lives or around us and the hope that together we can rebuild to become the people you created us to be, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
God bless you