In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in “The Room.” There were no distinguishing marks save the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list book titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endless 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, “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 of my life. Here were written the actions of my 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 explorering 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 or Sisters.” Others I couldn’t laugh at. “Things I have done in my anger,” or “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.
The sheer volume of the life I had lived overwhelmed me. Could it be possible that I had the time in my years to write each of these thousands or millions of cards? But each card confirmed the 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 file cards grew to contain the lyrics. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn’t found the end of the file. I shut it ashamed, not so much by the quality of the music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew it 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 detail. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.
An almost animal rage broke within 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 strong as steel when I tried to tear it. Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. With a long self-pitying sigh, I leaned my forehead against the wall. And then I saw it.
The title bore, “People I have shared the Gospel with.” The handle was brighter than those around it were. 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 in 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 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 wiped 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 muster the strength to look on His face, I saw a sorrow even deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. 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 His 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 card and one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card.
“No!” I shouted, rushing toward him. All I could say was “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, and 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. He knew there were cards I had yet to write.