Tuesday, August 14, 2012


The heavy wooden door swung wide. Bright eyes peered around corner, and dark hair fell into view. A little girl, rosy-cheeked and barely able to reach the brass doorknob, had pushed her way into the room.

She slipped in and let the heavy door go, not even turning to watch it thud shut. The room was lined with high bookcases filled with books of every description, color and size, yet she paid them little heed. Her attention was fixed on a large desk in the center of the room, with a single book on top.

She toddled to the huge chair, and by some calculated contriving, managed to clamber up onto the plush seat. Standing on tip-toes, she reached her little hand out for the book in the center of the desk. She drew it near. Thick brown covers, sturdy but beautiful pages, and gold leafing on the front: it was a jewel. Eyes sparkling, the little girl pushed back the cover and began to look at the pictures in the book.

The pictures were beautiful: filled with rich color. A beautiful golden ink seemed to be everywhere on the page, and yet nowhere to be seen all at once, giving the pictures so much more life and sparkle. Some hours passed this way.

But then, when the pictures began to seem the most life-like and realistic, the chapter ended. As if eager to continue, the little girl tried to flip the next page, but found it immovable. Not a bit would it budge. Sighing with disappointment, she slid from the chair and padded back out of the room, pausing a moment to consider the book on the desk before shutting the door.


Again the door swung wide, but this time with more strength. Bright eyes peered around the corner, and dark hair fell into view: the little girl again? Yes indeed--and yet, so much taller! Her head reach far above the doorknob now, and she entered the room without the hesitance of before. The door fell closed, and she crossed the room with a skip and hop, and plumped down into the plush chair. Pulling the book close again, she opened to chapter two.

The girl seemed to actually read the words now, as if she understood them. She often would pause to consider the pictures as they passed, and almost looked disappointed with each passing one. The rich color was fading, and the bright golden ink more and more sparing. While still lovely, the pictures were far from what they had been at the beginning of the book. Still, the girl read on.

Then suddenly, she recoiled in horror. Tears welled up in her eyes as they traced the words that came next, and she sat back in the chair, almost appearing to not want to continue. The pictures on this page had changed: now they were black and white, with tiny splashes of color here and there. The lovely golden ink could be found nowhere on the page. It was indeed dismal to look at, yet the words seemed to carry far more pain than the ruined loveliness of the book. Something seemed to pull her back and she read still farther, fists clenching, jaw tight, and tears dropping onto the pages, staining them for time and eternity.

The chapter was a long one, and she did not finish it til many, many hours later. By this time the tears had ceased. She lifted her bleary eyes from the page and stared at the bookcases around the room. Then she looked back at the page. A little frown crossed her forehead, and she tried to turn the page--to no avail. It was stuck fast.

Rising from the chair, the girl looked around the room almost as if fearful of it. Then she lifted her chin, squared her shoulders, and marched from the room, letting the heavy door slam behind her.


Hollow creaking filled the empty room as the door swung open again. We wait for the bright eyes to peer around the corner, but there are none. Instead, the door comes open all the way, and in its void stands a tall girl, dark hair braided and face impassive. Her eyes hold no warmth, none of the light and brightness of the times before. She steps into the room, and shuts the door behind her, this time locking it securely before crossing the aging carpet and approaching the desk and the book on top.

Stiffly, mechanically, she sits in the chair. Staring at the book without expression, she pulls it close to her and flips to chapter three. Then she bends over it and begins to read again, eyes hard and unfeeling.

The pictures and words pass by, and the look on the girl's face begins to change a little. The black and white pictures are suddenly seeming to have more life; more color. Still, though, we see no traces of the golden ink that had graced the early pages of the book.

Pages continue to flip, and as we look at the girl's face, the hardness is gone. She seems to have softened. Her head drops into one hand as she reads, her expression melting from cold ice to the warmth of summer. Her entire posture relaxes, and as the chapter ends, she exhales long and deep. She sits back in the chair and stares into space a moment, the faintest glimmer of a smile tinging the edges of her eyes and mouth before she rises, lets the cover of the book fall again, and then quits the room, walking a little softer and seeming, in a small sense, liberated.


Light gleams under the door as it opens once again. It swings wide, and in steps a young woman, eyes wide and searching. She takes a deep breath and walks across the room to the desk, seating herself with measured grace. A hand pulls the book closer; deft fingers flip past the well-known chapters until the fourth is reached. Then she bends over the book and begins to read.

The pictures are slowly changing colors as the pages pass by. They're becoming more rich and vivid again, and at long last, the golden ink can be seen gracing corners and lines. A smile creases the young woman's face as she flips another page.

Suddenly, the whole page is alive with color and beauty. The pictures here are nearly dazzling, and almost seem to have a breath of their own. Gold shimmers on the pages, even more lustrous and bright than at the beginning of the book. A little gasp escapes the girl's mouth as she continues reading, and tears fill her eyes. The little smile from before becomes radiant, and for a moment she drops her head on the desk, weeping in what we take to be joy.

One last page, and she's finished chapter four. The colors still brilliant, the gold still as lovely, she reads the last paragraph, and a little frown darkens her eyes. A tear of pain slides down the curve of her cheek, and she brushes it away. Lifting her chin, she stares off across the room, and lets the book fall closed. She stands to her feet, pushes the chair back in, and leaves the room: but not after looking back at the book on the desk with a beautiful smile. The door closes.

Time will pass. She will return to read chapter five. But what will she find therein? Perhaps little, perhaps much. One thing is certain...the book has not been finished yet.

'Tis the colors that make life a joy and a thrill
'Tis the gold ink of love that makes sweet or ill
'Tis the letters that spell out the changes to come, 
but only the chapters that interest some.
For chapters are big; they bring change, something new,
and moments are fleeting, like warm summer dew.
Each moment that passes, painful or pure,
whether laughing and trusting, or doubting, unsure;
can be ordained only by the One who knows best.
'Tis to His love and His care I shall leave all the rest. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Traitor's Kiss

I had no other thought than working. None.

But, as usual, God had other ideas.

Melissa messaged me: "Can you go through the spreadsheet plans and assign a theme for upcoming magazines according to the Bible lessons in the respective magazines?"

Wow. Quite the mouthful. Okay.

Since most of those Bible lessons weren't written yet, that required me to go through the chapters in the Desire of Ages that correlated to each lesson. And I went in fully intending to skim them.

I ended up reading them. And having my eyes opened like never before.

What really struck me the most though, wasn't Jesus agony in the garden...although I almost choked at that.

It wasn't the nasty treatment of Jesus...

It wasn't the mean words, the hateful spirits, the cruelty and insane madness that possessed the priests and rulers...

It was Judas.

As I read, I saw what Jesus had done to try to help Judas. This man had not even been called or chosen to be a disciple--he'd pushed his way in. But Jesus did not refuse him. Instead, He placed this stubborn, arrogant man where he would be under the influence of Christ's own spirit every day, in every way.

Really, Jesus gave Judas the greatest advantage ever given to any human soul. Ever.

...All the while, knowing that this man for whom He was laboring would betray Him.

There was one thing, however, about Judas and Jesus' treatment of him that hit me like a speeding train, laid me flat on the tracks, and then backed up and ran me over.

I'm serious... it was that bad.

In the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus has just battled with the worst death any of us could ever face. He'd nearly died because of the sin laid upon Him. He'd stained the ground with His blood for our sins, He'd been left alone to agonize while His disciples slumbered in blissful and painful ignorance, and now He was facing a mob, Roman soldiers, temple guards, and priests, all armed with weapons and lanterns. And right out front stands Judas. This man that Jesus has labored for three years for. This man that Jesus loves...He loves him, with a love deeper than any of us can know. This would be enough to break anyone's heart.

But get this... Judas steps forward, pretending to have nothing to do with the ill-meaning crowd behind him, places a hand on Jesus' shoulder, and kisses the face of God. A kiss of betrayal. A kiss of denial. A kiss of treachery.

Anyone...and I mean anyone... would've beaten a person like that away from them.

But Ellen White specifically states that Jesus accepted Judas' kiss. He accepted it.

He allowed it. Received it as though nothing were wrong, as if Judas hadn't sold Him for the price of a common slave, as if he wouldn't go out and hang himself later that day. As if everything was alright.

I couldn'tve done that. Ever.

A kiss is possibly one of the closest acknowledgments of closeness between two people. In our world today, that gift has been perverted, true, but it still remains a symbol of love, warmth, friendship, trust. To even imagine allowing someone who had betrayed me to come that close again is unthinkable.

Yet I found my eyes filling with tears as the picture changed, and in Judas' place I saw myself, stepping forward to kiss the face of God, pretending that I had nothing to do with that great and terrible event so long ago...

Judas is looked upon as the worst man in Earth's history by many Christians.

I have to shake my head.

It was my sin just as much as Judas' that put Jesus on the cross. It was my faults and shortcomings that shed innocent blood... my deeds that crucify Him anew.

separated Jesus Christ from His Father.

It's not Judas...

I'm the traitor.

Yet, there's hope.

Jesus accepted Judas' kiss, even though it was a betrayal. Jesus still loved Judas, up to the very moment that he hanged himself. Jesus still loves Judas today, even though there is no hope for him....

And Jesus still loves me.

I may fall, I make mistakes... I forget, I worry, I fail. But through all of that, one thing I can know for certain.

Jesus loves me.

I'm a traitor, yes.

I sent Him to His death.

But by God's grace, and His grace alone, the kiss of a traitor can become the kiss of a faithful child.