WEEKLY CHRISTIAN BIBLE STUDY AND DEVOTIONAL FROM GOD’S WORD, FOR THE NEWLY SAVED AND MORE SEASONED BELIEVER, AND FOR OTHERS SEEKING TRUTH. OUR PRAYER IS TO ENCOURAGE YOU AND STRENGTHEN YOUR FAITH IN GOD’S INFINITE MERCY, LOVE AND GRACE, AND IN THE GOSPEL OF THE DEATH, BURIAL AND RESURRECTION OF HIS SON JESUS CHRIST, THAT ALL WHO SEEK HIM HAVE ETERNAL, ABUNDANT LIFE.
Saturday, June 3, 2017
View through the Ruin
Photo by Laurie Collett 2017
Our family was recently blessed to visit Ireland, where the
joy of spending time together was enhanced by the unusually sunny weather and
gorgeous scenery. The lush green landscape there is dotted by many ruins of
walls, dwellings, and even castles!
One of our favorites was Minard Castle near Dingle in
County Kerry, still stately atop a gentle hill on a boulder beach, its gray
stones overgrown with tangled ivy. It was built by the Knight of Kerry in the
mid 17th century and was later attacked by the forces of Oliver
Cromwell. In the romantic film "Ryan’s Daughter," it was used to film
the scene where Rosy met the English Captain, with whom she would have an
Our son and daughter-in-law were the first to scramble up
the steep, winding narrow stairs to view what remained of the bedrooms and
watch towers. There was no signage or docent, so much of it was left to the
imagination. I followed not too far behind, while my husband chose the safer
and broader perspective from below on the castle grounds.
Later he told me that a fellow traveler shook his head
while gazing at those of us scampering about on the upper levels of the ancient
“I’m a mechanical engineer,” he told Richard. “All it would
take is one stone from that arch to slip a little, or to crumble a little, for
that whole building to come tumbling down.”
Richard shuddered as he pondered our fate, wondering why he
hadn’t tried to stop us, or if he could even if he had tried.
As I ascended the rough steps, sometimes painfully clinging to thorny
vines on the wall for support, I was thankfully oblivious to the conversation
below. I paused often to peek through the window openings, and to imagine what
it was like for the original occupants to gaze out on that same scenery. The
rolling hills, far-off mountain peak, and sea must not have changed much,
despite the considerable deterioration of the dwelling itself.
Were there joyful parties in the castle, or grim watches
for invading enemies? Were the occupants blessed with marital bliss and happy,
healthy families, or plagued by sickness, strife, trials and death? Most likely
a mixture of both, as would be true for most lives at different times.
As I paused to snap a photo of one view through the crumbling
ruins, I was struck by the contrast of the jagged rocks that framed the window,
jutting out into the bucolic landscape and farmhouse in the distance, and the grand
yet hazy view of the mountain peak beyond.
The Bible describes the church, or body of called-out
believers who trust in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), as
a building fitly framed together. Jesus Himself is the Cornerstone and the
Foundation on which the church is built (Ephesians
2:20-22). Each believer is positioned uniquely to fulfill the specific function God has predetermined for
each of us (Romans 12:4-8; 1
But what happens if the individual
stones in the building, or believers in the church, start to fall apart? As the
engineer observed, just one stone slipping in the arch could bring the whole
castle tumbling down. If a church leader is found out in adultery or other sin,
or begins preaching false doctrine, the entire local church body may dissolve (1 Corinthians 5:6-13).
Even “small” sins or divisions among
church members, or erosion as vines and leaks work over time on building
blocks, can damage the entire structure. Maintenance and upkeep are therefore
crucial for a dwelling, and regular, well-attended services (Hebrews 10:25) and immersion in
God’s Word (2 Timothy 4:2) even
more so for a church.
Crumbling around the edges of one
stone can affect its connection to the others, and similarly, willful sin in
the life of one church member erodes the body as a whole, for the chain is only
as strong as its weakest link. Small wonder that so many churches today are in disarray and even closing their doors altogether!
But the view through the ruin
also reminded me of my own body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit, as is
true for every child of God (Ephesians
2:22; 2 Corinthians 6:16).
The outward body is aging daily, yet the soul inside should be growing closer
to and in better alignment with Jesus (2
Corinthians 4:16), as long as we build our lives on the solid Rock (Matthew 7:24) and Foundation (1 Corinthians 3:10-11).
Looking out from the jagged
borders of the window reminded me that although I am rough around the edges, God
still blesses me with the vision to see milestones along my path. As I viewed the
nearby farmhouse and heard the far-off laughter of my son and his bride, I remembered God’s
blessings of honest labor (2
Thessalonians 3:10), family (Psalm
127:3-5) and shelter in the past and present.
And the mountain peak beyond strengthened
my faith that there are still mountains and lands to possess, figuratively
speaking, even as we grow older (Joshua
14:9-12; 13:1). Ultimately we will ascend to that holy city, New Jerusalem (Revelation 3:12; 21:2,10),
on the heavenly hill! (Zechariah 8:3)
Meanwhile, as our physical bodies
age and fail, our souls groan to be clothed with the new heavenly tabernacle of
our glorified body! (Romans 8:18-23).
Then we will view Him through the ruin of our earthly body no more, for we will
see Him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12)
and be as He is, in our heavenly body (1
Corinthians 15:40-54) that will never die, sin, age, or experience pain,
sickness or sorrow!