Rebuilding the Ruins

My heart shattered on the ground and my life laid in front of me in ruins after my break-up with Mark. I never felt so undone in my life over an ending of a romantic relationship. I gave this man my heart and my body and I received nothing in return but a severing from my hopes and dreams. I felt as if my arm had been torn off.

When I met Mark, I thought I met the one I would marry, but after only a few months of dating I gave him everything of myself…way too soon, of course. Once our relationship ended, I realized how much I lost. I lost me and I lost my relationship with God. A very high price to pay for a relationship.

I walked as one who was dead for months afterward. I shuffled my feet to church and listlessly participated in worship. I dragged my dead body out of bed every morning and prepared for work with a mind barely functioning, eyes half closed, limbs limp. I felt I had no future since I built my future with Mark in my head. Where was I to go now? What would become of me?

During the months that followed the Lord reminded me of Isaiah 54. Yes! The whole chapter of Isaiah. This chapter, I believe, is what the Lord spoke to me as my life chapter during my time in ministry school. Some people have life verses to sum up the focus of their life, others have life chapters. That’s me. I needed a whole chapter. This chapter in Isaiah was applicable then when I sat in chapel service, but even more applicable in this time of a devastating break-up.

I believe the theme of this whole chapter speaks about rebuilding. The very name of Isaiah translates to “Yeshaiah” which means “The Lord saves” or “Jehovah is salvation”. The Lord speaking through Isaiah promised to the whole nation of Israel that He would rebuild after the devastating ruin of both kingdoms of Israel.

Step on the breaks! *Screeeech!*

Wait, you say. Both kingdoms?

Yes, both kingdoms. For historical context, at the time of Isaiah, Israel was divided into two kingdoms. This happened at the end of Solomon‘s reign under his son, Rehoboam (1 Ki 12).  So now we have two kingdoms in Israel, with the northern kingdom known as Israel and the southern kingdom known as Judah, ruled by two different kings with two different capital cities over the next several hundred years…and it wasn’t pretty, folks. Depending on whether an evil king reigned or a God-fearing king reigned, both kingdoms were up and down the moral ladder of degradation.

Enter the prophets.

God sent His specially appointed prophets to speak to both kingdoms about their turn away from God toward other gods and warned them to repent lest they find themselves taken captive by foreign nations.

The foreign nations? Assyria–for a geographical picture think of modern-day northern Iraq, and Babylon–picture modern-day southern Iraq.

The final fall and captivity of Israel to Assyria occurred about 722 BC.  The kingdom of Judah fell to Babylon in 586 with the complete desolation of the capital, Jerusalem.

Can you imagine the despair of being taken captive by a foreign nation and forced to live in a foreign land against your will while watching your beloved country destroyed by a cruel army? To give you an idea of how bad the Assyrian dudes were, these guys were known for skinning their captives alive as they hung from a tree or a pole.

You can get a peak into the sinking hearts of the people of Judah by reading Psalm 137. This Psalm scholars believe was written either during the time of the exile of  Judah or sometime after:

By the rivers of Babylon,

There we sat down, yea, we wept

When we remembered Zion,

We hung our harps

Upon the willows in the midst of it . ( v.1-2 NKJV)

Very eloquently expressed through the use of the word “harp” as the symbolism of joy. To put in modern and unpoetical terms, we might say we stopped singing. These people were so depressed they couldn’t sing!

Isaiah spoke a warning to Israel and Judah but he also spoke God’s promising words of restoration after their captivity. This is where Isaiah 54 begins. Let’s jump to verse 11:

“O storm-battered city, troubled and desolate! I will rebuild you with precious jewels…”

I think this verse here sums up the whole chapter. To paraphrase, the Lord says to Israel, “I will rebuild you with things that are valuable and durable.”

We all need rebuilding.

My church has been looking for a new place to call home the past few months. We need a little more room to grow so we’ve looked at some property around town. One property had a building built in the 50’s. It looked like it hadn’t been lived in since the 50’s. You can smell the mold growing in that place. Grass grew up from the carpet. GRASS!! Growing up from the carpet!! This place needed a lot of work. Walls would need to be stripped bare to studs. Plumbing redone. Electrical work redone. Everything!

This is a picture of us! We need to be redone. Rebuilt! Sin has ravaged us from the inside out and left us desolate. I’m talking about your sin, my sin, and the others’ sins. My sins have left me a mess. Others’ sins against me have as well. I’m a mess inside.

Truthfully, I must admit I was a mess before I met Mark. My mess was just exposed to my eyes more clearly through the relationship, especially after it ended.

It’s now been over a decade since my relationship with Mark and I can testify that God has been true to His Word. I see evidence in my life of the rebuilding work the Lord constructed in my heart. I praise Him for it! The work is not done. Oh, no! Not even close to done. I still deal with misplaced priorities, pride and other stuff that for you readers is on a NTKB (need to know basis).  But, oh, how far I’ve come! He is in the process of rebuilding me and making me new today.

I know there are many out there like me. Your life is in ruins. Maybe you don’t know it yet, but it is. Do you even know you need to be rebuilt? Have you noticed grass and mold growing where it shouldn’t?

I love the song “Glorious Ruins” by Hillsong United. We’ve been singing this song in church for some time and the hope strikes me like a sunbeam bursting through the clouds.

“I’ll look to the cross

Where my failure is lost

In the light of Your glorious grace…

Let the ruins come to life

In the beauty of Your name

Rising up from the ashes

God forever You reign”

No matter the cause for our ruins, we can bring them all to the presence of Jesus. In His presence we will find ourselves revived, our lives rising up out of the ashes and renewed to life in Him. What hope we have in Him!

Whatever situation you find yourself in now, I pray, Beloved, you will bring your ruins to Jesus. He desires to rebuild your ruins.

If you would like to sample the song I quoted from Hillsong, here is the link:

“Jesus Saves…”

English: A "Jesus Saves" neon cross ...

English: A “Jesus Saves” neon cross sign on a church in Alphabet City in New York. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus Saves is not just a religious slogan; it is my present-day reality. He saves me from every girl-made inclination I have to make this life work and from the fleshly mask I hide behind when it doesn’t. He saves me from my failures as well as my successes. He saves me from the shame of my mistakes as well as the pride of my achievements. He saves me from trying to suck life out of the accolades the world has to offer by placing me safely in him, hidden with Christ in God.” ~ Emily P. Freeman, Grace for the Good Girl


Struggling With Loneliness: How Is God Enough?

A very insightful blog on dealing with loneliness. Something we all struggle with at some time.

J.S. Park: Hospital Chaplain, Skeptical Christian

– In the book of Genesis, there’s a verse where God said that it was not good for man to be alone so He will make a helper for him. I think this extends even beyond marriage to say that we were made to have close relationships in our lives. What’s confusing is how this applies when we feel lonely? It’s not all about us & what we want but, how do we cope with loneliness when we were made to have those close friendships to walk through life together but also know that God is all we truly need?

– Hi, I have struggled with loneliness for a very long time. God has been healing me but I still have problems with it. During my lonely times, I would listen to sermons, sing praise songs, or just do activities I enjoy…

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