Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Empty Paper Tray



One night in a dream I stood before the Great Judge as He sat at the bench draped in His official black robe. The courtroom was immense and dark. I was all alone and stood quietly pondering my fate. As I waited to be sentenced for my unspecified crimes, my stenograph machine, set up before me as if I was to record the proceedings, began spitting out the record of my life—everything that I had ever done from the time I was born until that point.


Just as a court reporter writes it all down, my notes unraveled and overflowed from the paper tray faster and faster until the courtroom was covered in thousands of interconnected loops of stenograph paper strewn everywhere.

I knew I was condemned as I stood before the Great Judge. I wanted to fix all my mistakes, but I couldn't. It was too late and I had no defense. He was about to sentence me, but from the back of the darkened courtroom, a lone figure came forward and stood beside me. He was a towering individual, and I was covered by His shadow and enveloped by His omnipresence. Dare I look into His eyes? The room was empty, except for the three of us, and I suddenly recognized it was Jesus who now stood next to me at my darkest hour.

He approached the bench and there was a conference out of my hearing between the Audience of One. I wondered what the Masters of my future would decide; I knew I deserved death. The ugliness of my life was no secret to them. They knew every sin I had committed, every secret thought, every wasted action, every omission and commission of things of which I knew better.

Suddenly, as in a flash of lightning, the ream of stenograph paper rolled backwards on itself and disappeared. The paper tray was empty. The scroll of my life was "remembered no more." There was no record that could be made, no court reporter's notes, no transcript. It was whisked away in an instant.

Jesus stepped down from the bench and returned to stand beside me. Again, without warning, the reams of paper now quickly reappeared, as a tornado, unraveling and covering the Holy One’s body. The Master stood condemned, my dirty, stained stenograph paper wrapped around Him as garments of cloth. He was bound as if he were to be laid in a borrowed tomb—or a manger. He would take the punishment I deserved. No longer guilty, God redeemed me by His love.

I now stood before more than a righteous judge. I stood before the Audience of One. Love compelled Jesus and my Heavenly Father to remember no more my past vulgarities. For the joy set before Him, Jesus was escorted away in shame. It was Love that took my place, Love that covered my sin all recorded on stenograph paper that spoke of condemnation.

As we share the joy of the Christmas holidays, let’s remember Jesus is the reason for the season. Let’s keep Him in our traditions and celebrations as we adorn Christmas trees in colorful ornaments and exchange lavish gifts. The greatest treasures we give, however, may not be wrapped in Christmas tissue but rather in what we do—our forgiveness, joy, and love filled to the brim, poured out, and shared unselfishly. Let the light of Jesus burn brightly through the window of our heart.

May it begin with me—more patience, more time, more of everything I lack. If Jesus gave His all, maybe, just maybe, I can venture out of my own comfort zone. If I try to be more like Him, if I allow His Word to mold me, perhaps I can be the difference maker in my own world filled with the most precious lives I touch—my children, my family, my friends, my coworkers, and my neighbors.

Most of all, I want to remember what I have to be thankful for—and it begins with the empty paper tray. Because of Jesus, I can write the greatest story ever told, of how a baby came from Heaven to earth, born in a manger, wrapped in rags, and who redeemed me….Merry Christmas.

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