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
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
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.