by E. Lee Audirsch
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. When I awoke I realized that there were still
cards to be written.
E. Lee Audirsch