Saturday, March 13, 2021

View through the Ruin


Photo by Laurie Collett 2017

May all who celebrate it have a blessed and safe St. Patrick's Day! As a Christian, I believe that all who trust Jesus as their Savior are saints. Still, I can appreciate that "St. Patrick's" life is worthy of respect, as he is said to have converted the pagan Irish to Christianity. My family and I do have fond memories of Ireland and the time we spent there, as you may see from the reposted article below:

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 extramarital affair.

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 structure.

“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 had he 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 Corinthians 12:12-27).

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! 

© 2017 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives

Photo by Laurie Collett 2017   


Brenda said...

Hi Laurie,
there are many 'churches' that are teaching false doctrines, and as it says in the scriptures, many are falling away from the faith. The main thing is, whether we are gathering together in a building, outside or online, whatever is spoken, the truth can only be confirmed through that Word. It is very important that we use the Word of God as our plumb line, and endeavour to build one another up with it. Your picture is lovely, and Ireland is lovely, both north and south. God bless you Laurie as you share what the Lord gives you to share.

Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
Your experience of your visit to the castle at County Derry reminds me of our visit to Conway Castle in North Wales a few years ago, which was built about the same time.
Conway castle is more intact than the one in Ireland, and I was able to ascend the narrow spiral staircase to reach the top of it's highest turret. The 360-degree view from the observation platform was magnificent!
As for our church, in 1996 our former pastor slept with another man's wife and he tried to keep that a secret from the rest of us. However, after he was found out, it was us, the congregation, who had to disrobe him and release him from all leadership responsibilities.
We continued pastorless until a new one was voted in a year later.
When incidents like this happen, if the rest of us remain godly, the church can hold together intact before a replacement stone arrives.
Blessings to you and Richard.

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Brenda,
Yes. we must be as the Bereans, and search the Scriptures to see if these things be so. As our Pastor likes to say, every preacher, teacher, message and teaching must be compared with God's Word to see if it lines up.
Thank you as always for your encouraging comment and God bless,

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
We have never had the pleasure of visiting Wales, but would like to someday. Conway Castle sounds like a must-see!
It is truly sad and destructive when a pastor strays. It is a testament to the strength of your church and the faith of its believers that you were able to carry on united. Our former church lost its pastor to cancer, and that led to great division and conflict over choosing his replacement. Many long-term, faithful members left over the discord.
Thanks as always for sharing your experience. God bless you and Alex,