In our devotional on February 3, 2005, we considered man's personality and noted that man is blessed with emotion, intellect, and willpower. The gospel wonderfully appeals to all three aspects of man's personality. The best kind of preaching should: (1) challenge man's way of thinking (i.e., his intellect), (2) it should stir his heart or feelings (i.e., his emotions), and (3) it should ultimately motivate him to make any necessary changes (i.e., willpower).
Today, I want to share a short, fictional story with you. It was originally written by Joshua Harris and published in "New Attitude" magazine (copyright 1995, and used here by permission). This is a powerful story, and I believe it can touch man's personality on all levels. I read it for the first time years ago, and it caused me to weep at the time. After we contemplate the story together, we'll consider some appropriate Scriptures.
Please do your best to pretend that the main character in this story is you.
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 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.
What a powerful story about sin, the omniscience of God, and forgiveness via the blood of Jesus!
While these thoughts are fresh in our minds, let us consider some passages together about the blood of Christ:
Revelation 1:5 - "And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood." Jesus loves us so much that He washes us from our sins in His own blood--the blood that He shed on the cross to establish the New Covenant! How wonderful is His love for us!
Romans 5:8,9 - "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." Jesus' blood makes our justification possible. It is the means by which we can be saved from God's wrath!
I John 1:7 - "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." Jesus loves us so much that His blood cleanses us from all sin! He doesn't just forgive some of our sins; He forgives them all!
Ephesians 1:7 - "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." Jesus' blood and His bountiful grace make our forgiveness possible. His love is so rich that He will buy us back from the way of death, even when we deserve destruction! Is there a more marvelous thought that this?
Dear listeners, as long as blood flows through our veins, we have the opportunity to get right with the Lord. Praise God that there are more cards to be written! Let go of the past and seek God's forgiveness if you are not a Christian. Believe in Jesus Christ, turn from your sins, and be baptized to let the blood of Christ wipe your slate clean. No one can change what they did yesterday, or last year, or twenty years ago, but we can decide what cards we will write today. Will we write cards of faithful service to the Lord or will most of our cards be centered upon our selfish desires and the works of the flesh? The decision is yours, but choose wisely, for the day will come when we will no longer write any cards, but we will give an account of our lives before Almighty God. II Corinthians 5:10 - "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad."
"He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" (Matt. 13:9). Thank you for listening, and may the Lord bless you as you strive to do His will.