‘Glorious Ruins’

After I asked Jesus to be my Savior, I became a new creature, so the Bible says. I was taught that as new creatures we were supposed to become righteous. But after salvation, it was a constant struggle to keep my righteousness from falling too far below par (well, it was impossible, for there is none righteous, no not one). I always felt defeated. It’s not that I believed I was supposed to be sinless. But somehow I felt it was my responsibility to at least try to be sinless; that is, IF I was saved, then it should have been automatic and it wasn’t. Right?

But, somewhere during my depression, I realized the gloriousness of utter ruin. ‘Glorious Ruins’ (the name of a song by Hillsong Worship) is a calling to a change of posture. Rather than yearning to climb the ladder of holy success and personal achievement, I realized the depth of my depravity. I realized that while I longed for a place on the top rung of the ladder, the place of deepest intimacy with Jesus was at the bottom reaching up to Him from the lowest place and crying out for His compassionate mercy. I was yearning for a position that Jesus never wanted me to have. The bottom rung, however, changed my posture from looking down to see how far I’d come to looking up to see my only Hope, a sinner in need of His amazing grace. There was a new freedom of knowing my place. 

Rather than being surprised by my failures at trying to achieve holiness, I was able to find joy in the baby steps wherein I, the faithless one, was able to do anything that might please God. I rejoiced in the times when my desire to please Him and my actions to please Him came into sync, even it was just for small moments. Rather than hating myself for failing to be righteous, I was elated in the smallest of victories that God accomplished in my imprisoned heart. 

While I was deeply devastated at what I could no longer do for God, He wanted me to see that He had already done all that He required to be done to make me righteous in His sight. It’s interesting that God sanctifies some by helping them become victorious overcomers. But God did his sanctifying work in me by unfathomably undoing and breaking me. 

In the early days of my life, before depression eviscerated me, these were the plans I thought God had for me. Wherein I believed He wanted me to walk and go forth accomplishing much for my Savior, he took away my legs. Wherein I believed He wanted me to love and serve the multitudes, He took away my arms. Wherein I believed He wanted me to to grow in knowledge of His son, learning then teaching others how to know him and live for Him, He took away my mind. Wherein I believed He wanted me to find peace and tranquility in this life, He took away my ability to smell the sweet aroma of his peaceful gardens and pastures when He led me into the gloomy valley. Wherein I believed I was supposed see the great and mighty things He would do in and through my life, having great faith in His power and His power to overcome and banish all that was difficult, He took away my ability to see Him. Wherein I felt that I would learn to become keenly aware of the Holy Spirit’s voice, He took away my ability to hear Him. He took it all away. 

As I laid there helplessly, blind, deaf, mute, crippled, my life only a remnant of its former self, God said, “Now I can begin my work.” When it was all undone and all the plans I had for my life were in ruins, that’s when He began His greatest work in my heart. Midway through my illness, His still small voice began to whisper into my soul new images of the mercy that were mine through His Son. He began to show me the sufficiency of His Son’s work. He began the transplant process, giving me new parts. New eyes. New ears. New limbs. A new way of thinking. A new way of finding peace. A new way of loving. 

He gave me new eyes to see His incredible mercy and gracious character. I saw these when I closed my eyes and God began to repaint a picture of His kind, tender-hearted, affection towards me. He gave me new ears to hear His spirit when lies were being shouted over me. He told me, “Close your eyes and listen to Me singing over you. I’m singing a lullaby over your heart. Don’t listen to the noise around you. Don’t listen to the accusations. Don’t listen to the opinions of others who deem you unrighteous and unworthy. Don’t even listen to your own heart condemn you as unlovable. Just listen to Me.”

He gave me arms even in my own depression that reached out in tender hugs for others who were suffering their own tragedies and enduring their own depression. I knew what it felt like. I knew they needed to hear that they were loved and that they didn’t need to change anything to earn that love. He gave me new feet whose passion was to walk among the broken hearted, helping them find peace with their Savior. Accomplishing ‘much’ wasn’t His plan for me; He wanted me me to attribute my ‘much’ to Him and His sufficiency. “He must increase; I must decrease.” He wanted me to experience depth of relationship with Him rather than the breadth of my own works. 

I would never have learned these things had God not eviscerated me with the blessing of my depression. “Thank you for remaking my heart, Lord!”                 

Heidi Austel

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