Thursday, May 1, 2008

The List

The little girl walked on quiet feet into the study. A man with graying hair sat reading in a weathered armchair by the fire. A soft rustle caressed the air as he turned a page.

The girl hesitated then strode forward. “Father, I’ve written a list of things I’m going to do for you.” The paper trembled slightly in her small hands as she cleared her throat and bent her head to read.

• Obey everything you say.
• Study with you each morning.
• Try to remember to talk to you every day about everything.
• Work hard to make it up to you when I disobey.
• Remind myself how hard I need to strive to please you.
• Hate myself when I hurt others.
• Try harder to be a good person when I do bad things.
• Learn how to do it right on my own so you won’t be disappointed in me.

The man’s gaze enveloped her, seeming to look deep into her being for several long moments before he reached for the paper. His expression grave, the man pulled a pen from his shirt pocket as the girl anxiously danced from one foot to the other. For long moments, the minute sound of pen scratching on paper joined the soft pops of wood being transformed by fire.

Finally, he handed the list back. The girl’s eyes clung to the man’s a moment before taking the sheet.

Over the top of each one of her carefully crafted statements, a message had been written:

• Your sins are forgiven. (1 John 2:12)
• I have loved you with an everlasting love. (Jer. 31:3)
• It is for freedom you have been set free. (Gal. 5:1)
• You are not accused or condemned. (Rom 8:33-34)
• The law of the Spirit of life sets you free from the law of sin and death. (Rom. 8:2)
• You are a new creation, the old is gone, the new has come.
(2 Cor. 5:17)
• It is not you doing the wrong, it is the sin living in you.
(Rom. 7:17)
• Apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15: 5)

Tears glistened in the little girl’s eyes as she slowly raised her head. “Really?”

The Father nodded with a wise smile and opened his arms wide, the firelight catching the scars on his palms.

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