The light was bright as the sun: gleaming, searing, so intense I could only squint down at my feet as I shuffled up the steps. Enormous doors opened slowly as I approached, their engravings deep and elaborate. Everything – the doors, the steps, the light – was brilliant white.
I was conscious of a steady hum of voices in the periphery, but I didn’t look up. The light was still so bright, and shining ever brighter as I walked forward. I could only see my feet, dirty against the glass floor, and out of the corner of my eye huge pillars stood like sentinels to my left and to my right. I pulled my coat tighter and took ever smaller steps forward.
I was here to give an answer. I was here to leave something… to confess something. The closer I walked the harder the steps became and the heavier my burden felt. I pulled my coat, and my packages, tighter to my chest and squinted again. My feet bumped against another step and I pulled back suddenly.
Looking up for the first time, I realized where I stood.
The throne room.
All around me were voices, a perfect harmony from every corner of the echoing room. Pillars of pure white and gold lined it from floor to ceiling, their arching beauty like a forest above my head. The floor rushed out from beneath my feet in a transparent sea of glass and there were four singers standing ahead of me. I backed up further, my coat feeling thin and useless and ugly in this place.
The light grew brighter, so bright I closed my eyes and bowed my head, but I could still see it. It penetrated everything – my useless coat, the packages I held onto beneath it, even my eyelids. I dropped to my knees and covered my head, trying to block it out, but it still found me. I knew it was Him.
Fluttering my eyes, I reached into the coat and retrieved one of the packages. It was heavy and awkward, wrapped in an ugly burlap bag I’d attempted to use as a covering. I pulled the cover off and cringed at its ugliness – its stark sooty grossness against the clean glass floor. With one hand I pushed it away from me, toward the rising throne and intolerable Light.
It sat there, a dark, flat word in the middle of that pure room. Selfishness. I hated bringing it here. I hated seeing it in this light.
The voices were quieter now, watching as I pulled another package out and pathetically pushed it alongside the other. Pride. The word was just as dark as the other, but sharper around the edges and it cut my hands as I slid it across the glass.
I pushed the words out from under my coat into a dank pile on the floor. They were my words. They were my actions. How ugly they looked in the majesty of the throne room! Nothing like they had looked when I first picked them up, shiny and new. Back then they had seemed like protection against people; like justice that I deserved. Now they were rusty and moldy, bleeding black oil onto the perfect glass.
I looked at my hands; they were black, too. I looked at my coat. Dark stains coated the inside where the words had ridden for so long. The stains had leaked into the outside as well, and streaks of oil soaked through the sides. Anxiously I took the coat off and threw it over the word pile, hoping it might help. But my dress was stained, too.
The Light pierced the pile in front of me, accentuating every detail of its darkness. Every stain on my person seemed to be darker, and I anxiously wiped at the drops that fell from my bloody hands.
I knew I had to say something. I had to tell Him what I’d done. I needed to ask His forgiveness, to ask Him to take away these stains – but I couldn’t even look at Him through the brightness, and my voice seemed locked inside my throat. The brighter the light shone the darker I felt, and the more I wanted to hide from it. I bowed my head and pulled my hands over my eyes, desperately afraid of what would come to me for my wretched words.
Then a shadow fell across me. The light, for a moment, faded.
I slowly opened my eyes. In front of me was a glistening white robe – what I could see of it. Beneath it were sandaled, scarred feet, with wounds running from the ankle to middle of the foot. The gouges were healed, I could see. But the scars were unmistakable.
The Light reverberated into the room, a low voice that made me close my eyes again. “Who gives an answer for these?”
The man in the robe was standing between me and the throne; between me and my words.
“I do.” He answered. His voice was strong and confident, as if He knew the Light. “I have paid her price,” The man answered. “She is one of mine.”
The throne thundered again, and a flash like lightning blinded me further. Frightened, I curled into a ball on the floor, sure I was going to die at any minute. But in a moment, a hand touched my shoulder. I looked up, squinting in preparation for the light, but the blinding sun was gone and I could see once again. My eyes cleared, and I saw the Man’s face.
“Rise, my daughter,” He smiled gently. “Who condemns you?”
I looked around the room in astonishment. My coat, and my words, had vanished – all that was left was a curling vapor dissipating in the air. The voices were singing, this time louder, and I could see their faces smiling at me, as if they were glad I was there. I looked at my dress, certain the stains were painfully obvious to those around me. But my dress showed no signs of dirt anywhere. It was white once again.
“No one… No one seems to condemn me, Lord.” I answered hesitantly, taking the hand He offered – a hand also scarred from wrist to palm.
He smiled. “Neither do I condemn you. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”
I looked at my dress again. I looked around the room, glorious in its beauty and perfection. I looked at the Throne. The Light was still shining, but this time I could bear it. It was a welcoming light; the light of Love – a light of Grace.
Jesus took my hand and walked me to the great doors, the same doors I had stumbled through only moments before. He turned me toward Him and with hands on my shoulders turned toward my tearful face. “As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you.” He said gently, His kind eyes looking deep into mine. “Remain in my love. Go now, and sin no more.”