For people who are stumbling toward ruin, the message of the cross is nothing but a tall tale for fools by a fool. But for those of us who are already experiencing the reality of being rescued and made right, it is nothing short of God’s power. (I Corinthians 1:18 VOICE)
Ruin is the downfall, decay, or destruction of anything. We call old dwellings we uncover in archaeological digs as "ruins", but we all refer to toast charred to a crisp in the toaster as "ruined". Three things about ruin we need to realize:
1. It describes a condition in which the thing or one who was on the rise at one point is now on the decline. It can be caused by being taken down a notch, as when we begin to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. It can also be caused by being overthrown, as when someone goes up against another and finds they just didn't have the capacity or "talent" to continue in a position they wanted to maintain. The decline can be gradual, or at such a whirlwind speed it makes one's head spin. The precursor to a downfall is not always recognizable, but in the instances we discussed here, an individual usually has some issue of "pride" at the center of their upward climb which results in reaching a point where pride actually becomes the very thing which causes their "downfall".
2. It can also describe the gradual process of "rotting away" where you stand. A long time ago, a good friend asked me if I was ready to take a big step forward in my career. I was scared to death, but I also knew I could do it if I was given the right support. Her wise words have stuck with me for years. She simply reminded me that "green" meant I was still growing; "ripe" meant I was actually beginning the process of rotting where I was planted. She wanted me to understand the importance of keeping myself in a position where I did not become too complacent in my work, always taking on new challenges, and keeping myself in a place where I could grow. I think of her often as I consider those words, because they have been repeated many times by me as I speak with others going through times of feeling burnt out, wanting to take steps toward something new. The truth is simple - we will rot if we just sit too long in the same place in life. In relationships, for example, we sometimes allow a place of stagnancy to come which eventually becomes the means by which "ruin" or "decay" occurs. If we are to avoid decay, we have to pay attention to the condition of our lives - that which is ignored long enough becomes the means by which decay is introduced.
3. It can also represent the condition described best by one whose life is reduced to useless fragments. The sum of the fragments equals the whole, but as long as the fragments are reduced to a pile of rubble by either neglect or attack, the pile is really just a ruin. We all have times when we feel like our life may contain "piles of rubble", but when our entire life begins to feel like that we get to a place of despair and depression. Decay and decline left long enough will eventually lead to a place where we feel our life is "destroyed" beyond "putting back together again" - much like the old nursery rhyme of Humpty Dumpty.
The good news is that God specializes in taking run down, rejected, somewhat abused or overused lives and turning them into things of beauty beyond belief. We might think nothing good can come our of our messed up lives, but the good news is that of "rescue". In places of ruin the only time something good comes out of that place is when there is a rescue! God is our rescuer - he is the one who has the ability to seek out the living soul among the rubble of life's ruins. We just need to trust him to do the work of rescue! Just sayin!