We’ve all heard the old adage that there are two sides to every story, and a classic trial brings that point out vividly. I’ve served on three juries in the past – one clearly guilty, one given a lesser settlement than pursued, and one clearly not guilty. It’s an honor to be selected to sit with peers to carefully review and ponder the facts of the case as presented by the respective attorneys, and to be responsible for the right verdict. Certainly, some have abused the trial-by-jury system and condemned truly innocent folks, but it has been more often than not an equitable and viable justice system.
The legal teams for the defendant and the plaintiff each present salient points to be considered, arguing their case convincingly with evidence and witnesses. Once the case has been handed over to the jury, it’s up to the 12 jurors of peers to discuss the evidence presented and determine guilt or innocence. For the most part, at each trial, we jurors could tell early on where the truth lay. We also brought along our own life experiences and knowledge which helped weigh the evidence from both sides. In one trial, for example, the farming background I and another gentleman had made all the difference in helping others understand more fully the veracity of certain aspects which had been presented during the trial.
But sometimes it seems that a trial with its accusations is like that voice in my head reminding me of how guilty I am. It’s Satan pointing out all my sins… one after another, stacked high, like a mountain tall. The right way to live is spelled out in the Ten Commandments, in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and scattered all throughout Scripture. But, I’m also very aware that I cannot keep God’s commands and expectations to live a pure and holy life. I have a serious debt which I can never repay.
So, what am I to do? Go to the Lord, admit my sins and failures, and accept God’s love and forgiveness, for nothing I could ever do will wash away my guilt. My favorite verse since childhood has been – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV)
Jesus took the punishment I deserved on that fateful day we call Good Friday. He was whipped, mocked, and nailed to a cross… not for anything He had done. He was sinless, faultless, perfect. Yet, He did that for me. He willingly took my place, giving His life to purchase my right to join Him in heaven forever. His mercy and grace brings me to tears. Someday I will stand before Almighty God, my judge, to give an account of my life, and I will have nothing to say in my defense… except that my advocate, Jesus, will be standing at my side, declaring me guiltless because He already paid for my sins… with His own life.
Linda A. Roorda
With accusations I’m now confronted
No plea have I but guilty as charged
I hang my head to litany stark
And with quiet shame my accuser I face.
It once had seemed the world was my own
I learned the games to lie and to cheat
I did not care if others were hurt
As long as my will and goals were achieved.
But in the spiral of downward tumble
I lost the vision I’d once beheld
A purer focus, others before self
Humble respect in tangled webs lost.
And one by one as charges were read
I clearly recalled the past with deep pain
Regret now for words carelessly spoken
How could I ever repair what I’d done?
In my despair while under scrutiny
My only hope was to beg for mercy
That maybe some good done along the way
Would balance the book, the ledger of sin.
But, alas, I heard the judge declare
Guilty as charged; no mercy be shown.
Like rock upon rock my sins were stacked high
As I stared upon the mountain of debt.
Just then the doors were flung open wide
And striding forth came a man in white robe
Boldly he exclaimed, “This debt has been paid!”
“I hung on the cross, and took all the shame.”
Slowly I sank to my knees in awe.
Who was this man who gave all for me?
How could he give his life for my debt?
For I can’t repay such a merciful gift.
Reaching out gently he pulled me up straight
And showed me his scars and nail-pierced hands
He held out his arms in welcome embrace
As he dried my tears and declared me free.
I love you my child… I did this for you.
I carried your shame upon my beaten back.
I purchased your soul with life-giving blood
That you might have life with mercy and grace.
Now all I ask is by faith you walk
Bring to the world compassion and peace
Carry my light to the corners dark
Open your heart to love and forgive.