“All Rise!” – Bailiff

Bull from Night Court

I remember sitting in the pews of a courtroom awaiting the judge to enter so court could get underway.  I had arrested a man for possessing and distributing methamphetamines.  There he sat next to his attorney.  Inside the courtroom were family members, members of the local press, deputies and officers, other attorneys, and some others I couldn’t outright identify.  We were all in our “normal”, everyday attire.  But the man I arrested was in an orange jumpsuit and bedroom slippers.  His head was bowed in shame and his hands and feet were shackled.  On the top of his jumpsuit was a number…no name, just a number.  A few rows behind him sat a woman; I believe this to be his mother.  The woman was alone and she was sobbing heavily.  The only noise in the room was the crying mother.  The man would go to prison for a long time and she knew that.  The silence, otherwise, was painful-even to me.  “He deserves prison!”, I exclaimed in passionate thought.  “He sold people meth, even to teens!  He had it coming!  You’re getting exactly what you deserve and I’m sorry about your mom, but that’s just too bad for you-you should have thought about that before you did this!”, I continued in thought.  The mother’s sobs were clearly affecting me.  I began to get angry from her pain.  I didn’t want her to hurt like this.  Her obvious pain began to soften my heart and I began to see her as a woman who, is not losing a man but, is losing a little boy.  The little boy she always knew.  The little boy she changed when he wet his diaper.  The little boy she used to drive to school each day.  The little boy she packed lunches for and made snacks for after school.  The little boy she used to read the Bible to each night before bed and tuck him in.  The little boy she watched open Christmas presents with wide and excited eyes.  The little infant who’s breath she would inhale just to feel as close as possible to in praise of God who gave that breath.  Then my heart began to soften for the man I arrested.  Head hung in shame, I soon felt what he was feeling.  I will explain shortly.  I felt sorry for him.  Yes, he was getting what was deserved and that was right.  But I was hurting because he was hurting and it didn’t matter why.  My spiritual focus was abruptly interrupted by the bailiff…

“All rise!”

Everyone rose.  The man in orange fearfully shot to his feet and straightened his back, but his head remained hung in shame.  He was about to be judged for the things he had done outside the boundaries of the law.  The sentence would be fair.  He would indeed get what he deserved.  As the judge read the appropriate sentence, the mother wailed in heartache and pain.  In uniform and on-duty, I silently, but expressedly, wailed with her.  The inner anguish was too much.  So why was I wailing along with the mother?  I mean, he was certainly getting what he had coming.

You see, there was a time in my life when my life was all about me.  I was committed to number-one.  I was committed to my profession, my family, my dog, my exercise, my church, and my friends.  I did many good things in the community and helped out with a basketball ministry.  I was committed to many things.  But I was not fully committed to God.  When it came to God, I was a spectator-not a participator.  I did not know God.  What I saw in that courtroom was myself; orange-clad, with the shackles of life and sin binding me and holding me down.  I was trapped, but no one trapped me.  I trapped myself.  I realized that judgment for every person, including me, was coming and would be here before I knew it.  I would sit before the Almighty Judge and face Him.  I was that man in the courtroom because although I was not in physical shackles, I was no more free than he was.  Knowing what I deserved scared me and saddened me because I knew the truth about Jesus Christ, but my life rejected it.  He was not first in my life.  If Christianity were illegal, they would have almost no evidence to arrest me for it.

Are you fully committed to Jesus Christ today?  Is He first in your life?  Or are you sporting orange-clad and shackled by your life and/or sin?  Make Him first in your life today.

On the day of judgment will you be in orange-clad and in shackles when it’s too late.  Or will you commit your life to Jesus Christ today?  It is for freedom that Christ has set you free (Galatians 5:1).  Are you free?  If you’d like to know more about freedom in Christ, please shoot me an email.    Bless you this week.

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2 comments

  1. Dude…you totally sucked me into this story and made me cry right along with you, with him…been there as a crime victim (a guy stole my car and got caught) we had to be there in the courtroom…difference was…my heart went out to the kid, because HIS MOM WAS NOT EVEN THERE! No one came for this kid. Ray and I went home crying…yeah, he got what was due to him, but there was no one there for him…except us…we prayed all the way home and this kid is often in my prayers, that someone is able to reach him for Jesus, so there will be someone there for his final judgement…

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