Thursday, November 20, 2008

Judge or Jury?? Or Both??

This week I have been on jury duty. This is actually the first time that I have ever had the "privilege" to be on jury duty. And... I used the word "privilege" very loosely. The only up-close and personal experience that I have ever had with jury duty was when my husband served on a murder case. Yuck!! It didn't leave a very pleasant memory in my head. A young boy with a mental illness had left his home... a few states away... without his medication... and came to our area and killed both of his grandparents and their neighbors. My husband didn't sleep for about a month.... although the trial only lasted about a week. My husband and some of the other jurors felt mislead by the explanation of verdicts that they had to choose from... so about a month or two later... my husband had to go to court for the defense to try to get the young boy another trial.... but that didn't happen. I just remember that my husband had such a hard time with all of this. So... you can see the reason for my excitement when it was my turn to have jury duty.

I arrived Monday morning at the courthouse with about 100 other lucky people. When we were divided up into 3 groups.... of course, I was in the group that had to stay all day. We went up to the courtroom where thr trial was to begin. The defense attorney and the defendant were seated on one side of the courtroom... and our local prosecutor was seated on the other side. They randomly chose names from the jury pool to come up before the attorneys for them to make their choice of the "perfect" jury for the case. About 8 names into it.... they called my name. I went up... with my arms full... my jacket, my purse, and my bag with my "stuff" in it... you know... my current book for Lelia's study, the next book for Lelia's study, two different fiction books, my Beth Moore bible study workbook, my Bible, my hairspray, my comb, my mints, my gum, my chapstick... and probably many other things that I have forgotten about. There I stood.... in front of the prosecutor's table.... while he viewed several different pieces of paper in front of him. He announced... "present the juror". That meant that he would accept me... it was now up to the defense attorney. Before the sweet little lady in front of the courtroom could ask his opinion.... he said, "excuse this juror!!". That meant that he rejected me. WHAT??? Now... I didn't even want to be on this jury.... but what do you mean that YOU don't WANT me on this jury??? I made my way back to my seat... not sure how to feel about all of this.

It was over so quick. I just sat there while they called out other names and made their choices. I couldn't just look at the person on the outside and decide in my head if they would be chosen or rejected. Sometimes... I would think... "they will send that one away"... only to hear them accept them and put them in the jury box. Other times... I would think that they looked acceptable to me... only to hear them be rejected just like I was. What was that all about???

I thought about another courtroom scene. Where I will be the defendant... The enemy... my accuser... will be seated at his table. My defender, Jesus Christ, will be seated next to me at our table. There will be no jury.... thankfully. Their opinion of me will not matter. The Judge will be on His throne. When the enemy stands against me.... my Father, the Judge, will look over at my defender and declare me FORGIVEN!! No amount of "wrongs" in the past will be enough to convict me. WOW!! At that time... I will also be acceptable to the accuser... he would love to have a chance to have me. BUT... my defender... will not even wait on the question... he will be quick to say, "Oh! no you won't have her!!". I will be excused !!

I didn't really want to be on a jury. I was concerned about judging someone's innocence or guilt based on words and not on sight. I wanted to make sure that even if they were found guilty in our eyes.... they knew that they could be forgiven in God's eyes. I wanted to make sure that they understood that what they did... didn't have to make up who they are. I am glad that it turned out the way it did. I didn't have to sit in judgment of this person.

But... then why do I find myself being judgmental at other times?? That's a good question... when no one needs my opinion.... it seems to be so easy to find. But... when the state of South Carolina wanted me to pass judgment on someone.... well... suddenly it became a big deal to me. If nothing else.... God has used this experience to show me several things about Him... and myself.

God is so quick to show me mercy... and no one else's opinion of my sin matters.

God doesn't need my judgment of others... although I am often quick to think it.

When I am actually called to give a judgment of someone else's sin... that is when it suddenly becomes important to me to show mercy. Maybe it is because I would have to voice it to the actual person and not allow it to just sit in my head. What does that say about my opinion??

I cannot judge a person's value by their appearance. You would think that I would already know this... and I thought that I did. But sitting there, I found myself trying to decide if each person would meet the attorneys standards or not. Most of the time I was wrong. There again... what does that say about my opinion??

Man.... I want to be more like Him... I need to be more like Him. Quick to show mercy. Quick to see the potential of every person. Slow to judge... and only when it is necessary.

Although I thought this week was a complete waste... maybe it really wasn't. Thanks God!! I imagine that this was really what this week of jury duty was all about... not the poor man sitting at the defense table... but about me sitting as the judge and the signature


jcdisciple said...

Hey Lynn,

Here is what I just told Regina and it goes diddo for you. I can't believe I've been so dumb!!


I just discovered that somehow I didn't have you and LynnSC on my follow list. I kept thinking, what's going on? Those girls haven't posted in forever. Yikes...I'm an idiot!! I'm so sorry who knows how much I've missed. I'll be back later to catch up, but I wanted you to know that I hadn't abandoned you on purpose.

I'm glad I figured it out b/c I was missing my B. Moore love buddies.

I'll be back to catch up later.

Shabby Olde Potting Shed said...

Oh my gosh that is an incredible post! I actually have tears in my eyes. I too; have been on jury duty. I too have sat in judgement of another... and your post how everyone will one day be judged. Ohmygosh.. I thank God I am forgiven by the blood of Christ. Thank you JESUS!

Incredible post lynn! INCREDIBLE

Jill said...

I've never experienced jury duty, but your words put it all in a new light. Thanks for sharing. And I want you to know, you're not alone - I want and need to be more like Him as well. Blessings on your day, Jill

Tracy said...

Wow, what a moment! Profound lesson here. Thanks Lynn for sharing this. I can tell I'll be thinking long and hard about your words. Well said, my friend.


Melanie said...

Great insights, Lynn. That always excites me. At long last, Satan's lies will no longer be able to trip us up.


Paula (SweetPea) said...

Lynn, you did a wonderful job with sharing your experience and relating it to God's mercy, our tendancy to be judgemental, and us never having to face a jury in Heaven.


You have peaked my curiosity though. Are you saying that the attorney and prosecutor chose jurors based soley on looks???? You said you went up to the prosecutor and he accepted you but then the defendent's attorney rejected you. Did you answer any questions or say anything? That's wierd to be judge on looks or presentation alone.

In our county I've been told we are asked questions pertaining to the case. Like if it's a rape, if you've been raped. If it's a person of different ethnicity, if we are prejudice...I don't really know but that's what I've been told. Oh, if we know the defendent or any of the family. Basically looking for anything that would cause prejudice or skew one's opinion.