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           The Room


                 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 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 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 the 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

            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 20 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.

          -author unknown-


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