Sometimes, late at night, he was haunted by his sins . . .
He slumped at his table, his head in his hands, trying to block out the memories brought on by the flickering candlelight. He remembered night raids-- the cries of terrified children; the frantic, shrieking pleas of women; the terror scrawled on innocent faces as they were rounded up and led away. He remembered his laughter rising over the din, and the smug, self-pleased feeling in his heart as he lay on his bed at night. The images clouded his mind, as the clouds cover the moon, until he'd nearly forgotten where he was and what God had called him to. And, just when he was on the brink of despair, a dark voice spoke to him, its tone low but filling the room. It told him what it tells all followers of Christ-- that he was hopeless, unreedeemable, worthless, unlovable. It was so convincing that he had to gasp for air under its oppressive weight. He often felt like creeping away in the night, like the wretched criminal the voice told him he was.
But at times like this, he knew how to fight.
"No!" he shouted at the darkness. "I have been forgiven! My debt is not only paid, but forgotten! I am living in hope; I am redeemed; I am made worthy; I am loved!" he cried, pounding his fist on the table. "The sins you remind me of have been thrown into the deepest sea, removed from me as far as the east is from the west-- wiped out of God's memory! His Son, Jesus Christ loved me and gave Himself for me-- do you hear me?--" he screamed, rising and supporting himself on the table. "-- Jesus gave Himself for my sins, to rescue me from this present evil world." He paused, panting quietly, and listened. The room was silent, but he knew his enemy still lurked. After a moment, he spoke in a soft voice. "And because of His death and resurrection, I am a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come." He stopped and smiled slightly. "You-- and your accusations-- hold no power over this man," he finished, his voice dropping to a whisper. As he straightened, his body drenched in sweat, he glanced out the narrow window. The stars were out, their lights bright in the night sky. A cool breeze whispered in through the window, and he closed his eyes and let it lift his hair back from his face. Then, he sat down once again and returned to his work.
The past, and its darkness, held no sway in Paul's present . . .
nor over his future.