“(1) Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. (2) And the Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?’
(3) Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. (4) Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him.’ And to him He said, ‘See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.’
(5) And I said, ‘Let them put a clean turban on his head.’ So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the Lord stood by.” (Zechariah 3:1-5)
God truly does have a perfect sense of timing about things. Today at Church Pastor Mark did a sermon on sexual assault; basically Chapter 7 of the book “Real Marriage” that he wrote with his wife. If you haven’t read it, I would highly recommend it. Even if you aren’t married you probably know people who are, or you likely will be married yourself one day. This was a hard and uncomfortable sermon for me. But timely. I am currently reading the book “Rid of my Disgrace” by the Holcombs; another highly recommended book. It deals with sexual assault in the light of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Again, even if you have never been sexually assaulted I can promise you that you probably know someone who has so this would be an awesome book for you to read so you know what to say….and more importantly what not to say…to someone who is hurting from this. I will warn you that this book is not an easy read, particularly if you have been sexually assaulted. I am only able to get through maybe a chapter a week. Right now I am on Chapter 5, which is about denial, and I am really struggling with how much of that I have actually been doing since my assault.
So today’s ‘Our Daily Bread’ fit in with the sermon. It is about taking away the filth of our iniquity to clothe us in rich robes. Pastor Mark spoke about how Jesus takes away my shame, my defilement, and scorns it on the cross. To be perfectly honest I don’t fully understand it. I see the vague outline of it like looking through a frosted over window peering out through a dense fog. I can see the outline of the cross there, but in light of what happened to me I struggle. Which is why I am going to be going through a Redemption Group to help me with this. This idea terrifies me; it makes me want to itch all over. You see I thought I was past all of this. I went to a Rape Counselor for about a year and a half just over 5 years ago to deal with all of this. I thought I had moved beyond it. That everything was fine. Only to learn within the first two chapters of reading the book that I probably suffer from PTSD, and that I am really not okay with what happened to me. At all. I learned how to function again on a normal standard. I learned how to check back into this world. But I have no idea what it means to be healed or not feel the way I feel.
The Scripture reading today says that Joshua was dressed in filthy rags. I know it is common for assault victims to feel dirty or gross. I feel disgust. I feel disgusting. I often believe the lie that the Enemy tells me that my fiancé thinks I am disgusting. I don’t like to look at myself in the mirror because of that disgust. I was raped over ten years ago and I didn’t realize until a few weeks ago that I carried this identity from that assault. It was always just sort of there in the back of my mind. So when I read that verse in the Scripture I cringe. It makes my stomach turn because I can imagine what Joshua was feeling in that moment standing before the lord wearing that. And Pastor Mark hit it on the head today with one of the struggles I have been having. What was I supposed to do, say “Forgive me Jesus for being raped repeatedly by my ex-fiancé at the time.” It wasn’t my sin. I didn’t do anything wrong. How does that get off? I can’t scrub it off, trust me I have tried to scrub it off to the point of bleeding before in my past. I have never been able to ever really feel clean again. I want to feel clean again. Which is why I really, really want to go to this Redemption Group no matter how terrified I am.
So the devotional today spoke about how Jesus takes away our sin: something I totally understand and am eternally grateful for. But Pastor Mark spoke of something else which I don’t get so I thought to look up what the dictionary definition of “iniquity” is. Iniquity: 1. Gross injustice or wickedness; and 2. A violation of right or duty, wicked act; sin. If I use that first definition it helps me to see that cross a little more clearly. The Angel of the Lord, Jesus Christ, takes away my gross injustices. All the gross, disgusting, deplorable injustices done upon me that make it impossible for me to look at myself in the mirror…Jesus took away. My head knows that, but my heart doesn’t understand it. I want to understand it. I know that my understanding of it won’t happen overnight. I know it is something I need to mediate on, prayerfully seek out the Holy Spirit to help me.
So tonight I will go to bed with that prayer in my heart for help, comfort, and
understanding. And a new memory verse that Crystal from “Rid of my Disgrace”, was kind enough to share. “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.” (Joel 2:25). God is a good and faithful God. I believe He will keep that promise.