The other night as study hours began, I struck up a typical evening conversation with Keenan, a junior.
Me: "Soooo, what homework do you need to do tonight?"
Keenan: "oh only about 20 minutes worth"
Me: "yeah right. What do you really need to do?"
Keenan procedes to list out his assignments, and starts to rummage through his school bag while I turn to another student to check in. As I turn back to Keenan, he's holding a small orange paper-back book and telling me he wants to show me something. The book is called a 'carnet' (car-nay), he explains, and is the way the French school system has chosen to record all kinds of information about a student. The student is then expected to show the book regularly to his parents. Keenan leafs through the book, explaining its various sections to me. One part has late passes, and another record visits to the nurse. There are several sections in which detentions and the reason they rewarded are noted. The student can look back and see exactly what was done and perceived to merit a detention or a visit to the principal's office. This carnet is from several years ago, and Keenan still remembers what he did, and we laughed as he looked back over the year in review. Each offense is recorded. As I sat with him and listened I realized how much that book is like my life. Every day I make mistakes, some more serious than others. If I were to look back and count my own offenses from the last few years of my life, I would have a carnet more full than Keenan's. however, because of the grace of God, I have been freed. Over each listed offense is the red stamp of the blood of Christ that proclaims "forgiven!" In His grace, God has saved me, casting my sins as far as the east is from the west. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5
Keenan told me that he keeps his carnet because it reminds him of where he came from - a place where records of wrong were kept. It also serves to remind him that those kinds of records aren't kept here. The people surrounding him here are just as human as those in his old school, and are capable of the same things, but instead of a record of wrong being kept, there is grace.