Then Jesus said to his disciples,
"If anyone would come after me, he must first deny himself and
take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life
will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
( Matt. 16:24 )
In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found
myself in the room. There were no Distinguishing
features save for the one wall covered with small index
card files. They were like the ones in Libraries that
listed the authors or subject in alphabetical order.
these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and
seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very
different readings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first
to catch my attention was the one that read, "People
I have liked". I opened it and began flipping
through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize
that I recognized the names written
on each one.
And then without being told I knew exactly where
I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude
catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions
of every moment, big and small, in detail my
memory couldn't match.
A sense of wonder and curiosity coupled with
horror, stirred within me as I began randomly
opening files and exploring their content. Some
brought joy and sweet memories, others a sense of
shame and regret so intense that I would look over
my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file
named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends
I have betrayed".
The titles ranged from the mundane to the
outright weird. "Books I have read" "Lies I have told"
"Comfort I have given" "Jokes I have
laughed at" . Some were almost hilarious in their
exactness: "Things I have yelled at my brothers".
Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I have
done in my anger" "Things I have muttered
under my breath to my parents". I never ceased to
be surprised by the contents. Often there
were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes
fewer than I had
I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of life I
had lived. Could it be possible that I have time in my
20 years to write each of these thousands of even
millions of cards? But each card confirmed this
truth. Each was written in my handwriting. Each
was signed with my signature.
When I pulled out the file marked "Songs I have
listened to" 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 so much by the quality
of the music, but more by the vast amount of
knew that file represented.
When I came to the file marked "lustful thoughts" I
felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file
out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew
out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I
felt sick to think that such
a moment had been recorded.
An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought
dominated my mind: "No one must see these cards!
no one must ever see this room! have to destroy them!"
In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size
didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn those
cards. But as I took it ad one end and began pounding
it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single
card. I became desperate and pulled out a
card only to find it strong as steel when I tried
to tear it.
Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to
its slot. Leaning on my forehead against the wall. I let
out a long self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title
bore "people I have shared the gospel with". The
handle was brighter than those around it, newer and
almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small
box no more than three inches long fell into
my hands. I could count the cards it
contained on one hand.
And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so
deep that the hurt started in my stomach and shook
through me. I fell on my knees and
cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming
shame of it all. The rows of files shelves swirled in
my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever know
of this room. I must lock it up
and hide the key.
But as I pushed away the tears, I saw him. No,
please not him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I
watched helplessly as he began to open
the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to
watch His response. And in the moments I could
bring myself to look at His face, I saw
a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to
intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did he
have to read every one?
Finally he turned and looked at me from across
the room. he looked at me with pity in His eyes. But
this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head,
covered my face with my hands and began to cry
again. He walked over and put his arm around me. He
could have said so many things. But He didn't say
a word. He
just cried with me.
Then He got up and walked back to the wall
of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out
a file and, one by one, began to sign his
name over mine on
"NO!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find
to say was "No, no" as I pulled the card from Him.
His name shouldn't be on these cards.
But there it was written in red so rich, so dark, so
alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was
written with his own blood.
He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile
and began to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever
understand how He did it so quickly,
but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close
the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His
hand on my shoulder and said "It is
I stood up, and He led me out of the room.
There was no lock on its door. There were still
cards to be written.
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