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Somewhere in that place just before dawn, between sleep and consciousness, where reality fades and dreams become reality, I found myself in a strange and bizarre room. Most of the features of the room have now dimmed from my memory, but blazed forever upon my soul is the wall that was covered with rows of card files, like those used in public libraries. But no library ever saw such an expanse of files. library card filing cabinet They stretched hundreds of feet in both directions, disappearing at each end of the wall into a dark mist. Faintly through the edge of the mist I could see other files without drawers, standing empty, as if waiting to be filled.

A cold dread settled on me like a shroud as I turned away from those waiting files and looked at the titles on the drawers in front of me. The nearest one read: People Truly Liked. I opened it and began reading the cards in the partially filled drawer. Each card contained a single name, a name of someone I knew.

Suddenly I somehow understood the purpose of this strange room with its thousands of card files--it was an elaborate cataloging of my life. Here were written the thoughts, words, and acts of my every moment, detailed in a way that no natural memory could ever match.

Quickly I opened other files and read the cards. Some brought joy and sweet memories, but most a sense of shame and regret so intense that I continually looked over my shoulder for fear someone was watching. A file titled Friends Made was next to files titled Friends Never Helped and Friends Betrayed.

Every internal and external act of my life was listed, from the seemingly mundane to the horrifying. Ungodly Books Read, Lies Told, Comfort Never Given, Dirty Jokes Laughed At, Dirty Jokes Told, Hurtful Things Said to Others, Harm Done to Neighbors. The titles seemed endless: Things Done in Anger, Times Parents Dishonored, Lies Told, People Laughed At, People Gossiped About, Greedy Acts, Dishonest Acts.

Worst of all were the titles relating to God: Hypocrisy, Disobedience, Unbelief, Irreverence, Blasphemy, Sacrilege, Independence, Idolatry, Robbery--this list of titles weighed the heaviest upon me.

The contents of many of the files astounded me, as did the number of negative titles--they numbered in the hundreds. Occasionally I found a positive title, but there were fewer of these than I hoped.

Amazingly, each card was written in my handwriting, each signed with my signature. How could that be? Then, without knowing how it was possible, I knew that each thought, word, and deed in my life wrote itself on a card, until now there were thousands or even millions of them. At first I refused to believe all that was written, but as I read each card the memory of what it described came flooding into my mind. They were all true, horribly true.

When I pulled out the file marked Movies and Videos Watched, I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed not only by what sinful things I had taken into myself through my eyes and ears, but also by the vast amount of time I had wasted on them. In the privacy of my home I had watched and listened to things that I would have turned away from in public--and the shame of my hypocrisy was almost as great as the shame of what I had seen and heard. It bore upon me like a living thing. But there was worse to come.

I came to a file marked, Lustful Thoughts and Acts, and almost fainted from the nausea that suddenly filled me. I opened the drawer only an inch or so, not willing to test its length, and drew out a card. Its detailed contents sickened me. Surely this could not have been me. But it was, for every detail was now revived in my memory, and I was filled with revulsion of myself.

Rage suddenly surged through me as one thought dominated my mind: "No one must ever see these cards! I have to destroy them!" In a frenzy I yanked the file out. It was filled with thousands of cards. I slammed one end of the drawer against the floor to dislodge the cards, to make a pile of them, to burn them, but not one card came out. I pulled out a card to tear it up, but it would not tear. These records of every moment of my life were indestructible. Defeated and helpless, I put the drawer back in the cabinet.

Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying, sigh. It was then that I saw it, and hope flashed through me. The drawer title said, "People Gospel Shared With." The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. But I knew I had often spoken to others about Christ, because I had often thought about doing it. Quickly I pulled open the drawer. It slide out about three inches and fell into my hand. It had less than twenty cards in it.

It was then that my shame became a living pain within me. It swirled up from my inner being and filled me until my chest hurt so badly I could hardly breath. I fell to my knees and cried like a lost child. The endless rows of files danced mockingly before my tear-filled eyes. It was more than I could bear. I determined that no one would ever know of this room. I would lock its door and hide the key.

But as I struggled to my feet, resolved to close forever this room with its dark secrets of my life, I saw Him standing in front of the files, reaching out to open a drawer. No, please God, not Him! Not here! Not in this room of my sins! Oh, anyone but Jesus Christ!

I watched helplessly as Christ began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His face as He read them--yet I couldn't bear not to watch His face. When I did, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own.

Christ seemed to know the drawers and cards that were the worst, and read them one by one. An eternity seemed to pass, an eternity in which I couldn't speak, but could only watch as the judge of the living and the dead reviewed my life. Even if I could have spoken, what could I have said to Him?--all my excuses had vanished from me.

At long last Christ turned and looked at me for the first time. There was such pity in His eyes that it destroyed all my self-pity and increased my shame. Yet I couldn't stop looking at Him, I could only cry like a child alone and frightened. Then He came close and put His arm around me. I thought He was going to say something to me, but He didn't say a word. I looked up at Him, and He was weeping.

After awhile, He walked to one end of the wall, just where the mist started, and opened a drawer. I followed Him to see what He was doing. He opened a file drawer and took out a card and signed His name over mine. I cried "No, no!" and pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But it was too late, there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine--written in His blood.

Jesus gently took the card back, and with a sad smile continued to sign the cards. I'll never understand how He did it so quickly, but in a short time He had finished the last file. Then He turned to me, placed His hand on my shoulder, and said, "It is finished."

With those words He led me out of the room. As we passed through the doorway, I saw that there was no lock on the door. The room could not be locked up, could not be sealed, it was always open. I realized then that my life would write more cards. Cards that would need to be signed in the blood of the Lamb.

Joshua Harris
From his book
I Kissed Dating Goodbye
Multnomah Publishers Inc.  (April 1997)

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