A few weeks ago, I went on a field trip with Monkey Boy and his class to a local courthouse to watch court proceedings for the morning. I found it fascinating. Not quite as cool as the court scenes you see on TV, and there was no “ching-ching” like in Law and Order, but it was so interesting to watch cases, listen to the judge and the questions he asked of the defendants, and witness more grace than I would’ve imagined.
At one point, a man appeared before the judge who had been pulled over for driving without a license 30 times.
Despite requests by the man to get his affairs in order in a day or two, he was sent to jail directly from the courtroom. We got to listen as the judge told the man that when he was released, he needed to move to another state that had better public transportation so he could get to and from a job. He told the man, “not only are you driving without a license, you’re a bad driver.” It was hard not to laugh out loud at the judge’s truthful and slightly snarky words. But he meant it in a very genuine way.
Grace was written all over this judge, and later while answering questions from the kids (seriously…he stopped court proceedings for over an hour to give the kids a tour of the courtroom, his chambers, the jury room and the holding cell and answered questions from the kids before and after the tour) it became evident that he was a Christian.
What a fabulous experience for the kids to witness such a kind, caring, God-loving judge. This momma enjoyed it too! But I much preferred sitting in the gallery. I am thankful that I’ve not had to sit at a defendants table or stand at the podium before the judge….and that thought leads me to how God convicted me in that courtroom that day.
There were a number of people who appeared that day for DUI charges. They all pled guilty to lesser charges, but listening to the circumstances of their arrests was eye-opening. At one point a man appeared who had, in his words, ‘had a few beers’ at a bar, (as the judge questioned the man, he asked about the size of the beers he consumed and how many…I never thought I’d hear a judge asking about the size of a beer!) and it was revealed that the man’s blood alcohol level was .15, almost double the legal limit. I suppressed a gasp at a BAL nearly twice the legal limit.
And that’s when God spoke to my heart.
He reminded me of my past. Of the years I spent away from Him. Brought to mind many of the stupid things I did during that dark season of my life. And He reminded me of how, despite me not serving Him with my life in that season, He protected me from the consequences of a lot of stupid, dangerous choices I made.
I did not deserve the mercy He showed me.
And He showed me, that many years ago, it could’ve been me standing in that courtroom, waiting to hear my legal fate over my stupid, dangerous decisions.
It was a powerful conviction.
And I was washed anew in love and thankfulness for my God who had plans for my life and chose to spare me from any major consequences from the season I chose to turn my back on him.
I try to live my life every day with the grace and mercy that I have been shown on my mind. But sometimes, God needs to open my eyes a little bigger to begin to truly grasp what He has done for me.
What He has saved me from. What He has saved me for.
And I need to move from those moments with a renewed love, appreciation and resolve to live for Him.