Eternity is rushing towards us.
You and everyone else must be ready.
When I got selected for jury duty, I was none too happy! This was going to mess up some plans I already had in place. But since there is no real way to get out of it, off I went.
As I checked in, I gave a couple of books away to the security officers and the lady that processed my paper work. As I sat down, I struck up a conversation with a gentleman sitting next to me. They mentioned they would need 40 potential jurors from the jury pool for a trial that day. I knew I was in trouble when they started calling names out of the roughly 400 potential jurors, and they called my name first! I was not happy. I wanted out of there as quickly as I could. I found out later that all of the names go into a computer, and the computer randomly selects what jurors are called. Well the computer might select names randomly, but there is nothing random about our God!
As I got on the elevator going up to the courtroom with nine other potential jurors, the lady escorting us up there says, “Hey Mr. Cahill, how are you doing? We sure enjoyed your visit the last time you were here and really enjoyed your book!” I had gotten a jury summons three or four years earlier, and I guess really tall people make a lasting impression! Well that is only partly true. That same lady told me at the end of the trial, that when I was there a few years ago, I left a lasting impact on those who were there. That lasting impact, she said, was made by my countenance and presence when I walked into the room the way I would talk with people, bless people, etc. One of the things that I pray about in life is to be able to walk into a place, bless it for the Lord, and walk out. Now, I don’t always know what that means. Is it a conversation with someone? Giving some tracts out? Blessing someone financially? I don’t always know. But that is my agenda when I enter places.
When they called us into the courtroom, I was doing some witnessing and giving books away. They began the process of questioning us to see which of the 40 jurors they were going to select. It was so interesting to watch the process play out. Since it was a burglary trial, they wanted to know how many people had been burglarized before. Right about 30 of the 40 people raised their hands! All I could think of was, wow! The other thing that was amazing was almost all of the people said the person or persons who perpetrated the crime had never been caught. During the trial a detective got on the stand and said that during the last 12 or so years in this county he had personally worked “a couple of thousand” burglary cases! I was shocked to hear him say that. That is a lot of crime. But the other thing that hit me was if the percentages were true, then so, so many of those folks were never held accountable for their crimes.
Leviticus 19:11 says,
“Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.”
Deuteronomy 5:19 states,
“Neither shalt thou steal.”
The good news is that we know these folks have a conscience. They know when they are stealing that they are doing wrong.
Well after calling all of us back into the room, they announced which jurors were selected. They said, “Juror #1….” Even though I didn’t want to do this trial, I just couldn’t seem to get out of it! I am glad that our God is in control as you will see.
So the trial starts with the prosecution presenting evidence, and then the defense gave its countering evidence. Then we get final instructions, and are sent to the jury room to deliberate. The first thing they tell us to do is to pick a foreman. Almost everyone started saying that I should be the foreman. I tried to pass the duty off to a nice, older woman. I like older people; they have a lot of wisdom that many of us young people don’t have. They have many years of experience from which we can learn. Do not, and I do mean do not, put older people out to pasture. Let them interact with the youth at your church. Pick the brains of older people. They are farther down the road of life than you. We need to hold older folks up with very high esteem in our country.
Well as you probably have already guessed, she didn’t want to be the foreman and wanted me to do it! So I was the foreman.
It was really fascinating how the whole process worked. It was interesting to see what some people thought was essential evidence and what others didn’t. To me it was so interesting to see what some people heard during the trial and what others didn’t. But one of the things in a jury trial is that you have to come to a consensus. So as we worked at it, talked, looked at evidence again, we came to the conclusion of guilty.
At the very end before I knocked on the door to let them know we had a verdict, I decided to go around the room to let each person which wanted to, have one final comment to say to the group. A friend of mine told me that they did this at a jury trial he was working on. It was interesting to hear what people had to say. Some said how they really enjoyed the experience of meeting everyone and working on something that was very important. Others said they hoped the man when he went to jail, would get his life on track and start heading the right direction.
Ephesians 4:28 says,
“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”
When it got around to me, I told everyone that this whole event of the trial and the courtroom reminded me of something that I said in one of my talks. So I reminded them that we have all broken God’s laws, Deuteronomy 5. One of these days, we will also enter the courtroom of God. But the thing that each of us really wants is mercy, not justice. Even though people in the jury room really wanted this man to pay for his crimes, the same is not true for us. We want leniency and mercy in this life. I let them know the same is true before God. I explained to them that Jesus had paid that fine and that He was the one who could take the penalty for those sins. Because of God’s justice and holiness, He would have to find each one of us guilty on judgment day. However, if we have repented and become born again by the blood of Jesus Christ, we don’t get to walk out of the courtroom back to our lives as a free person. We get to leave the courtroom, to enter the gates of heaven to be with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit for all of eternity! Now that is a good deal where I come from!
Most all the jurors were pretty receptive except one lady. Everyone had already taken at least one of my books except her. She really didn’t seem to like me too much. Imagine that! As we left at the end, I tried to shake her hand and she wouldn’t have anything to do with me. Remember folks, that even if she didn’t want a tract or a book, she did hear what I said to everyone. Open up those lips and speak the words of life to the lost. I have enjoyed praying for her.
As I was getting ready to write this newsletter, I got an email from a bold Christian woman. Below is what her email said:
“So yesterday I went to jury duty. Twenty-one of us were stuck in this one big room, and everyone basically had their own row of chairs because it was so roomy. We had to be called into the courtroom one by one to be interviewed. No one sat near me so I just started reading my Bible. After a while I took a break and went to the vending area. An older, retired gentleman came in soon after me and starting making coffee. He said, “Did one of your kids make that necklace you’re wearing?” I said, “Yes, my youngest daughter Ashley made it.” He said, “What does the “G” stand for?” I said, “My last name is Goodall, so Ashley said it could either stand for “Goodall” or “God.” He said, “I figured you would say “God” because I’ve seen you reading your Bible the whole time you were here!” I said, “I’m a Christian, and that’s God’s Word. I can’t get enough of it!” He said, “You really believe it all, don’t you?” I said, “Of course, don’t you?” He said, “I’ve read it, but maybe not like you. Can I ask you some questions?” I said, “Absolutely!” So he gathered all his stuff from the other side of the room, and plopped down next to my Bible. I asked him where he thought he would spend eternity, and he gave the standard, “I think Heaven – I’ve been a pretty good person” answer. So I brought him through the law, and showed him all the verses on our sin, repentance, faith, etc. It was pretty quiet in the room, besides “Good Morning America” on the corner TV, so half the room probably heard it as well. At one point, I started reading “For God so loved the world…..” and a girl a few rows back yelled out “Whoo-hoo! John 3:16! You go, girl!”) Anyway, I could see the guy started getting humbler and teary-eyed, and he finally admitted that he was a sinner going to hell. He said, “So what do I do? How did you actually get born-again? What did you pray when you got saved?” I explained to him what I said, and he said, “No, please say it word-for-word, like you prayed it back when you got saved.” So I bowed my head and prayed out loud to him, as explicit as I could be. He said, “Linda, I believe everything the Bible said. I want to be born again. I just prayed with you, everything you said.” I said, “You really meant it?” He said, “Every word. And I want to come to your church and hear your husband preach. This is the first time the Bible has made any sense to me.” He took down the church address and gave me his name and address so our family could come over and meet his wife, etc. He also wants me to send him your book. He told me his life was changed today, and he was so glad that God brought me to jury duty. A little while later he got called in to be interviewed and they picked him so he got to leave. He couldn’t stop thanking me and shaking my hand, and said he would see me at church very soon, with our without his wife (she’s a strong Catholic). After he left, two other ladies a few rows ahead of us turned around. One of them said, “So what’s the difference between what the Catholic Church teaches and what you told him?” I got to go sit with, give them your “Heartbeat” tracts, and share the gospel with them as well. She got called in for her interview and had to leave, but she said, “You might see me at your church, too!” She got picked and they sent the rest of us home.”
Colossians 4:5 says,
“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.”
Remember folks to make the most out of every opportunity. Remember you haven’t “got” to go to jury duty, but you “get” to go to jury duty! The opportunity to plant seeds with the lost are all around us. Go for it and don’t look back!
Until the nets are full,
P.S. Oh, one important detail that I forgot to tell you. At the end of deliberations, the foreman has to mark the right box on the verdict form and sign it. So I did just that. Just before we were to go out, a lady looked over and took a look at the sheet. I had marked the wrong box! I had marked ‘not guilty.’ Can you imagine the uproar if they would have read out ‘not guilty’ when all of us had voted ‘guilty’! I am so glad that lady caught my mistake. You can be rest assured on judgment day though, God won’t be making any mistakes on someone being Guilty or Not Guilty for all of eternity.