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ru·in// [roo-in]

1.  ruins, the remains of a building, city, etc., that has been destroyed or that is in disrepair or a state of decay
2.  a destroyed or decayed building, town, etc.
3.  a fallen, wrecked, or decayed condition: The building fell to ruin.
4.  the downfall, decay, or destruction of anything.
5.  the complete loss of health, means, position, hope, or the like.
6.  something that causes a downfall or destruction; blight: Alcohol was his ruin.
7.  the downfall of a person; undoing: the ruin of Oedipus.
8.  a person as the wreck of his or her former self; ravaged individual.
9.  the act of causing destruction or a downfall.

I heard a convicting, compelling message yesterday by Pastor Craig Groeschel of Lifechurch.tv about practical atheism in the Church:  when people profess belief in God but live as if He doesn’t exist.  Craig proposed that if we’ve really encountered God and given our hearts to Him, we would be living transformed lives.  Things would be different.  We wouldn’t be thinking we can just say or do whatever we want and still be God’s child, still be saved.  It’s as if we say of our faith, “I’ll take what I want but give back the rest.”  Craig said we don’t fully surrender to or obey God because we don’t fear Him and we don’t fear Him because we don’t really know Him.

I think back to elementary school days.  If a little friend of mine tried to tell me what to do, I might put my hands on my hips, look them square in the eye and say “you’re not the boss of me.”  However, if my teacher called my name, or worse called me to her desk, and told me to do something, I would go do it right away.  I didn’t want to get in trouble!   I appropriately “feared” or respected my teachers because I knew that they were in charge and I wasn’t.

Jesus said even the demons believe in God and tremble.  How many of us who say we believe in God tremble in His presence or have a reverent awe-filled fear of who He is?  Do we know/realize who He is?

Pastor Craig asserted that when we truly encounter God we are ruined.  Our values change completely – what was once so important to us is not important anymore.  Instead, we are transformed by passion from God’s own heart and pursue what He values – which in turn leads us to a rich, full, forgiven and free life.

In the Old Testament you can read the story of Isaiah, a man who had a very personal, life-changing, mind-blowing encounter with God Almighty.  Aside from being overwhelmed visually by the immense majesty and presence of His Creator, there were the resounding songs of praise by angels who hovered near.  Their thunderous voices singing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty!” were so powerful the very floor shook where Isaiah stood and the room filled with smoke.  He fell to his face shouting, “I’m ruined!  I’m so sinful. I could not be more unworthy!  I’m a man of unclean lips and yet my eyes have actually seen the Lord!”  An angel came to him with a burning coal to purge his lips and make him clean.  Instead of death or chastisement, he was forgiven.   Then when Isaiah heard God asking for volunteers to go and do his will, Isaiah jumped up, probably waving his hands and answering, “Me!  Here I am, Lord!  I will do whatever you say.  I’ll go.”  (Isaiah 6)

One of the definitions of the word “ruin” above that I particularly relate to talks of the downfall or undoing of a person.   There are moments when I come face to face with God’s holiness and I realize again, falling face down in my heart, that my flimsy cardboard will is no match for the gale-force wind of God’s majesty and presence.  In surrender, I come undone.  The things my heart has treasured begin to fall away and I mourn.  I watch the downfall of my human understanding, the loss of every earthly thing, the wreck of my efforts to save myself, the destruction of all my plans and expectations.  It all sweeps away as great, roaring breakers of God’s love crash down.  They wash over me and I find myself lifted out of the rubble, buoyed up by love so deep my feet can’t touch the bottom.  I float helplessly and thankfully straight to Jesus’ arms, where I find salvation and hope.   Now that I know Him, no other love will ever be enough.  Nothing I’ve treasured before matters or compares.   I am ruined.