Oscar shifted in his seat, and then turned to peer at the clock in the back of the auditorium. It was 9:27 a.m. The assembly would be starting in three minutes. Mr. Moore was walking to the platform now.
Oscar was very excited. Awards were to be given in this assembly. For weeks he had worked hard on his science project. Only last week his teacher had said it was the best work she had seen in years, and told him he had been selected in the top ten. Oscar liked to explore new ways of doing things, and his science teacher had encouraged him to try some of his ideas.
The science projects had been on exhibit in the gym all day yesterday, but today those with an entry had to give a demonstration at the assembly. Oscar was a little nervous about speaking in front of everyone, but so were all the other kids who had a project to explain.
The excitement was obvious. When Oscar demonstrated his project, everyone was amazed at his clever invention. Then it was time to receive the awards! Oscar listened impatiently as the principal repeated the rules of the contest.
First of all, in order to qualify for a prize, the project had to be complete. No trouble there, Oscar thought. Second, because the contest was intended to encourage good scholarship, all other class work had to be kept current. Oscar swallowed nervously. He’d forgotten about that rule! He had been so busy putting the finishing touches on his project, he had neglected his last science paper. It had been due yesterday. All students with an entry in the competition had been excused from classes this week, and he had completely forgotten about the paper.
Perhaps they wouldn’t notice. Maybe the teacher hadn’t had time to check his book. Oscar was always on time to class, and knew the answers to all of the questions in class. Surely they wouldn’t disqualify him for one little paper.
Anxiously, Oscar listened as the principal read the names of the prize winners.
Honorable mention—Jack Thompson and Kristi Wilson
Third Prize—Henry Shaw
Second Prize—Tyler Hutchins
First Prize—Ryan Johnston
As the applause rang out, Oscar’s heart sank. He blinked hard to keep back the tears. It just wasn’t fair. Ryan’s project was good, but his was so much better.
The students were gathering around the winners, congratulating them. Oscar just stood numb, not seeing or hearing, until he realized his teacher was standing there, looking at him sadly.
“Oscar,” she said, “You don’t know how sorry I am. Yours was by far the best exhibit in this contest. You could have won the first prize and gone on to the state competition. I waited until the very last minute, hoping you would bring me your paper so I could list your name as the first-prize winner. We discussed the rules in class. Remember?”
All Oscar could do was to nod miserably. There was not a thing he could say. His name was not called because he had not followed the rules.
Not following the rules can be very dangerous. Someday, God will reward all who have obeyed His rules. What a great time of celebration that will be for those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life! But think of the disappointed ones who did not follow the rules! They will have to appear later at the Great White Throne Judgment with God as the Judge. Records are being kept. Everything people have said and done that they have not repented of is written down. The books will be opened and those people will be judged. The Book of Life will be there too, so they can see that their names are not written in it.
All kinds of wonderful things are being made ready for the people whose names are written in the Book of Life. But for those who have not chosen to follow Him, there will be no reward. They will be separated from God!
The way to have our names written in the Book of Life is to follow God’s rules. Jesus said we need to be “born again” in order to get into God’s Kingdom. We must believe on Jesus Christ, repent of all our sins and ask Him to forgive us, and put our trust in Him. That is how we are saved from our sins, and from the punishment that sin brings.
No one’s name gets into the Book of Life by accident. No one’s name is removed by mistake. It is our choice. If we will choose eternal life, God has promised that He will teach us how to live so that our names will stay in His book. Then we will be able to enjoy the blessings He is preparing for us right now. Is your name in the Book of Life?