(by Joshua Harris)

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 list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order.
But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly
endlessly in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew
near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read
"Girls 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 my every moment, big and small, in a 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've Yelled
at My Brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My
Anger", "Things I Have muttered Under My Breath at My Parents". I never
ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards
than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it
be possible that I had the time in my 16 years to write each of these
thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth.
Each was written in my own handwriting. Each 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 music, but more by the
vast amount of time I knew that file represented.

When I came to a 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 ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room!
I 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 the cards. But as I
took it at 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
as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.

Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning
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, almost unused.
I pulled on its handle and a small box not 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 file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever,
ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.

But then 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 each card. "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 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 finished." 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.