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
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
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 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
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.
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 they 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
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.
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
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.
By Joshua Harris. Orginally published in New Attitude Magazine.
Copyright New Attitude, 1995. You have permission to reprint this in
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