I looked down at my hands, and saw the raw flesh where shackles used to bind them together. Those chains had been there so long, even the gentlest breeze seemed to brush across exposed flesh like a cold flame, exciting every nerve. I was finally free! The Judge had commuted my sentence because he decided to have mercy on me, and graciously pay my fine so that I could escape my doom.
Not only had my sentence been passed over, but my record of wrongs was cleared, and I was walking out of the courtroom a free and forgiven man with a clean slate, just as though I had never done wrong. I had a new chance at life, and a kind of wild joy that I admittedly did not know how to handle. All I knew was that for the first time I did not have to feel the weight of guilt and shame, and I did not have to spend my day looking over my shoulder, ready to run away from Authority.
There was something new in my heart, a new desire was growing and becoming my singular thought. Gratitude was filling my heart and mind, and overflowing my senses. I wanted to thank the one who had granted me pardon, but I couldn’t think how I could express such gratitude. Then, as I rounded the corner, an old friend greeted me from across the street. Temptation and I had our share of adventures, most of them leading me into the very trouble I had just escaped. He called out to me, and everything in me wanted to pretend I didn’t hear, but I looked across at him and waved.
Temptation crossed the street and met me with a mischievous grin. “Look what I have cooked up for us today!”, he whispered with an edge of excitement as he opened one side of his jacket. Inside his coat hung a pair of shackles that were of the most exquisite craftsmanship, gleaming and bright with appeal. On it were inscribed all of my former pastimes: intoxication, pornography, gossip, bitterness… All of a sudden, I once again felt the bare exposed skin of my hands longing for their old coverings, and I found my hand reaching forward.
As I slipped my hand into the lovely chains, I felt a rush of forbidden thrill. I knew no one was forcing me to wear them, I was in control this time. The rush of excitement in my ears quickly faded as I heard the sound of determined footsteps behind me and I turned to see the Judge approaching me and Temptation. My heart broke, and regret washed over me as I saw the stern compassion in his eyes. Silently, he handed me a key and laid his hand on my shoulder.
I looked down at my shackles and noticed the hidden barbs and hooks that had already begun to settle in my skin, and a wave of revulsion came over me for the amusements I once held dear. From his hand upon my shoulder, I felt a glow of strength and desire to please the Judge who had sacrificed so much for me. A new affection for his joy began to replace my love for Temptation's pleasures.
As I turned the key, Temptation’s angry glare threatened to undo my resolve, but the shackles dropped effortlessly from my hands. The Judge’s embrace told me all my heart needed to hear. I was loved, even in my foolishness, but love led me out of bondage and into freedom. I am FREE!