Friday, February 01, 2008

The Pasteboard Placard

On Christy’s recommendation, I have started to read Charles Dickens’ classic novel, David Copperfield. It’s the story of an unfortunate boy whose father died six months before his birth and so wound up living the first part of his life with his mother and housekeeper. His happiness in this situation was short lived, as his mother soon courted and married a guy who could teach Satan a thing or two about what it takes to be mean… this horrible new step dad was actually a package deal that came complete with a sister who would be Davey’s new aunt and moved in to give a new definition to the meaning of torture. She was (if possible) worse than her brother. Soon the whole house changed and poor Davey’s life became a tightrope act where affection, love and laughter were traded for tyranny, fear and humiliation. One day Davey came downstairs to deliver his grammar lesson and found his new father holding a cane he had bound and fashioned out of switches. When Davey couldn’t remember his lesson, he was escorted upstairs to his room by his new dad and the cane… upon entering his bedroom, Davey bit his step dad’s hand out of desperation and self-protection and the next day was sent away from the house to go to a boarding school in London called Salem House.

After enduring many hardships to get to London and the school, young Davey was taken up to his new bedroom, which was empty because all the other boys were on holiday. As he walked to the end of the room, he looked on a desk and saw a ‘pasteboard placard, beautifully written’ which had these words on it: “Take care of him. He bites.” Upon reading these words, Davey immediately jumped onto the desk for fear of whatever rabid dog that sign must be talking about… the fellow that showed him to his room saw him on the desk and asked him what he was doing up there.

“I beg your pardon, sir,” says I, “if you please, I’m looking for the dog.”
“Dog?” says he; “what dog?”
“Isn’t it a dog, sir?”
“Isn’t what a dog?”
“That’s to be taken care of, sir; that bites?”
“No, Copperfield,” says he gravely. “That’s not a dog. That’s a boy. My instructions are, Copperfield, to put this placard on your back…” With that, he took me down, and tied the placard, which was neatly constructed for the purpose, on my shoulders like a knapsack; and wherever I went, afterwards, I had the consolation of carrying it.”

What if your worst moments were painted neatly on a sign you had to wear on your back? What if everywhere you went people were looking at a record of your most shameful sins? David Copperfield said that every time he leaned with his back to a tree or a wall or the house he was told to turn and show that ‘badge’ conspicuous… He said that wherever he went he knew people were reading it and even if he turned around and found no one behind him it gave him no comfort because it still felt like people were reading it. He said that he began to have a sort of dread of himself, “… as a kind of wild boy who did bite.”

There is a place in the darkest, most frightened and unsaved parts of my heart where I am afraid that meeting God will be like this… that I’ll get in, but before I do, all my friends and family will gather around and read the sign of my darkest days… but thanks be to God! I can put those fears to rest! In Colossians 2 Paul says, “God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Whoa! Do you believe this?! Even if there was a sign fashioned for you, it was cancelled! It was nailed to the cross, and the only ones ashamed are the defeated, disarmed demons! We are free and clean and we can walk that way.

Here's a picture of Charles Dickens taken in 1850:

He was the man!

1 comment:

AmateurDad said...

Your girls are the coolest!

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