‘Filthy Rags’

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An excerpt of the new book from Frontier Press

By Tom Ford, Major –

Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. 4The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.” –Zechariah 3:3-4

If Joshua didn’t realize it before, he certainly did now. He was dirty. His head bolted back, nostrils flaring as he sniffed in the odor. His eyes widened as he recognized the source of the filth, shocked that the stench originated from himself, and not from his surroundings as he wanted to believe. His sinful condition, which started like a small trickle of poisonous sewage infesting the minuscule corners of his being, had after all these years turned into a crashing tsunami, submerging, engulfing, and saturating every area of his life. Shaking his head in wonder, he searched for a vague memory of a time when he could not stomach his selfish condition. But somewhere, somehow, as time went on, he gradually tolerated his state and ignored the dirt. As he rationalized, adjusted, and adapted, the offensive smells became natural, unnoticeable. But now he knew better. He knew that he wasn’t right.

Sin makes us “wrong.” Evil, wickedness, unrighteousness, and selfishness make us morally unclean. We were created to be in union with our Creator—that is the plan; that is life fulfilled. But sin contaminates character and perspective, tunneling into the depths of our being. Like water saturating the ground, sin soaks into every part of our lives. Evil affects our thoughts, decisions, emotions, physical well-being, spiritual connection with God, and our relationships with others. It permeates everything.

As a child, Darryck seemed to be “right.” His life and family seemed typical. Like a young stallion wildly galloping across a prairie, soaking in the scents of freedom and play, Darryck reveled in his family’s outdoor adventures. Camping, fishing, dirt bike riding, and sports of every kind satisfied his youthful thirst for life and excitement. But his satisfaction was temporary. He still wasn’t right; something was missing. This hollow feeling led to questions and insecurities: Who is God? Why was I created? What is life all about? What happens when you die? Why don’t I seem to fit in? Why do I feel wrong? His thirst did not come from a lack of adventure or activity, but was spiritual in nature.

Darryck’s family knew little about God and how deeply he cares. Ignorance caused his family to barricade God and his word out of their lives. As Darryck grew older, the parchedness in his soul also grew. In response to his parents’ divorce, a lack of supervision, and not knowing the ways of God, this spirited youth became spirited in doing wrong.

As the ways of the world and its values became Darryck’s paradigm, he was trapped in a revolving door that took him in and out of juvenile detention and then jail. Drug addiction attached itself to his carousel journey. But his wicked behavior only spotlighted the condition of his heart. Darryck became a thief, spurred on by a selfish, deceitful, dishonest heart that excluded God. He not only thought bad was good and good was bad, he lived it. And his sin had consequences. Darryck had moments of depression, confusion, guilt and helplessness. His sin also caused emotional strain, frustration and hopelessness for his family. They had had enough. His parents and brothers no longer wanted to have anything to do with him. A restraining order was issued.

Sin makes our lives wrong, but God passionately works through Christ to make us right and righteous before him. God’s Holy Spirit helps us to appropriate and experience this righteousness daily.

Like a castaway inhabiting a deserted island, Darryck found himself isolated from God and others because of his choices. He was incarcerated for a year with limited contact with the general population. Though he was devoid of family interaction and support, though he was spiritually dry without God, the Holy Spirit used these conditions to orchestrate an opportunity for Darryck to change his spiritual clothing.

“I had no one. I had nothing,” Darryck recalled. “I was asked by a man two cells down if I would like to have a pastoral visit from one of his friends that he knew. I was very suspicious, but I agreed, with the thought in the back of my mind that I would receive the visit just to get out of my cell.”

See how Darryck’s future changed and read more from the latest release of Frontier Press, “Filthy Rags,” an inspirational devotional book based on Zechariah 3 that draws on the author’s experience of ministry in jails and prisons at frontierpress.org.

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