Monday, April 11, 2011

Last week I had the privilege to support a friend through one of the hardest days in their marriage. It was a day that they had been dreading, anxious about, and fearful for many weeks prior. It was a day that could change the fate of the next several years of their lives, marriage, and future. That day was their day in court for judgement. The weeks and days that led up to last Friday were filled with what-ifs and I don't know how to handle this. It was also a time of constant prayer, reflection on decisions that were made, and preparation for the worst outcome. In the end it was left up to the judge and ultimately God.

Andrea and I sat in the courtroom and watched as this person's whole life was laid out before the judge and all who were present. Any good thing was presented as well as all of her offenses were revealed. Any bad decision, illicit word, or action was presented by the prosecution in order to justify her punishment. I could not help but think about myself and all the bad decisions and sins I have committed over the my 38 years being paraded for all to see. It was like a huge weight being tossed in my lap. I kept thinking is this what it is going to be like when we come before almighty God at the end of our earthly existence? He will read aloud all of our sins and offenses and ask us to defend ourselves as we are laid bare before Him?

After all arguments had been heard it was left up to the judge himself to deal out the punishment. He decided to take a recess for 10 minutes. Well, his recess turned into about 40 minutes instead, but something happened during that recess touched me to my core. The accused who was sobbing uncontrollably got to wrap her arms around her husband one last time before her life would be shackled from his touch for and unknown period of time. The man she had hurt and cheated on did not hesitate, he did not question, He just stood up and wrapped his arms tightly around her. They embraced the entire recess standing in the courtroom as if no one else was there, or even existed. He held her because He loves her unconditionally like Christ loves us. Sure he is hurt and still is from the pain she caused to him and their family, but He wants to forgive and continue growing a new life with her.

As they embraced she calmed down and you could see a peace fall on her spirit. By the time the judge was re-entering the courtroom she was collected and ready to hear her fate. We all prayed diligently prior to and during the hearing that God would show up and grant mercy. It was so evident that He made himself felt and heard that day. I can still vividly hear the chimes to the 12 noon clock ringing. 1.2, 3, 4,....12. The came back on the twelfth chime. Then the bells starting ringing as they do everyday at noon for all the city to hear. That day it was different. The judge was reading his decision for almost the entire time of the ringing bells. In my mind I kept saying,"man these bells are lasting a long time, when will they stop so I can hear what the judge is saying!". As the verdict was delivered, she was given exactly what was needed to further her healing, her relationship with her family, husband and God.

I look back on that day and see that God showed up and made himself heard and felt. On the next day my wife went to visit the jail where she is being held currently. The first thing both she and her husband said was "did you hear the bells during the sentencing?" She said there was peace in my heart and I knew no matter what He was going to be with me.

No matter what you are facing today, you are never alone, He is always there. It is just a matter of choosing to see or hear Him. When we do come to that judgement day and all things are revealed to condemn us, we have one who steps in to defend us. One who has paid the penalty already. Jesus paid for our sins, He has stepped in and taken our punishment. All we have to do is accept Him and live life in a relationship with Him. Have you made a decision for Him?

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