Guilty as Charged
It was another day
in court. By now it had all become routine to me. There were shackles
around my legs which made it hurt when I walked. My wrists were cuffed
to a big chain fastened around
my waist. Only one thought was going
through my mind while I was sitting in the small room behind the court
with all the other criminals. It was the same thought going through
everyone's mind in that room... will I be sent away or will I be set
A woman went into the main room right outside the doorway and spoke to the guards. My name was mentioned in the quick conversation
so I knew she had come for me. The guard called me out of the small room
into the main room where I was greeted by Shannon, the probation
officer. She took me into the hallway and explained to me how the court
session was going to go.
At the age of 15 everyone thinks they are invincible, and that is
exactly how I felt. She could tell by the expressions on my face that I
was not taking this very seriously. Every time I had gone to court in
the past nothing serious happened. I expected that it would be the same
this time. Expressions soon changed as she continued to speak to me. No
longer did I see myself as an invincible 15 year old but I saw myself as
a guilty criminal facing 5-10 years for Larceny in the 1st degree. I was
guilty of robbing a house.
Panic gripped my heart, unbelief entered my mind, and tears started to
form from my eyes. The guards led me into the court room where my eyes
glanced upon my mother who was nervously waiting for the court session
to begin. It seems that only the lucky ones who live the way I did reach
their bottoms. Some never reach the point where enough is enough. This
was the first time I had reached the bottom. Devastation is the only way
to describe it. How could I have been so blind as to throw away 5-10
years of my life? How is my mother going to handle this when she hears
the news? How am I going to survive such a long time in a cell and
maintain my sanity?
The entire court room knew what my emotions were as I entered. The tears
must have given it away or maybe it was the fact that I couldn't even
lift up his head to see the judge because of shame and remorse. Maybe
the judge will see my broken spirit and show mercy. Receiving grace
again was an unrealistic fantasy. They all knew me as a violent, drug
using, felon. As the judge spoke her words, they seemed to echo into my
core and make me shake with fear. I was guilty of Larceny in the first
degree and the entire court room knew that. This would be the second
felony I would be guilty of by age 15. The evidence was all
laid out plainly enough for all to see. They had enough statements and
witnesses to put me away for a long time. Doom was inevitable.
After court they brought me back to Juvenile hall where I was placed in
a cell. I had to wait a few weeks until my next court date. Prayer was
my only resort. Although at the time I was clearly not a Christian, I
had enough sense to pray to the God I thought would be there. In
such a situation it would have to take the hand and power of God to get
me out of this.
My prayers consisted of two main parts. God's part and
my part. I prayed that if God gets me out of this devastating situation,
I will do everything that I am supposed to do. No longer would I use or
sell drugs. No longer would I be
involved with the people that tempted me to do these bad things. Fights would no
part of my life, nor anything else that my conscience warned me was
displeasing to God. Everything would change if only God would somehow
get me out of this. That was the covenant I had made.
Eventually peace filled me heart. It was all in God's hands. My
eyes were opened and the filth of my sins was revealed. What an ugly
sight it was! How wrong I had been! How filthy I was! Oh, how polluted
with iniquity my heart was. Amazingly my heart was determined that
whether or not I spent time in prison, I will not spend my life in this
filth any longer. Things would have to change.
Due to a previous court case, when I had violated my probation multiple
times by failing the drug tests, I had been put on a waiting list for
rehab. It was only a few weeks earlier that they had put me on the
waiting list. All they were waiting for was an open bed. After only a
few weeks of being locked up and waiting for my next court case, some
people came to transfer me to a rehab. This was a rather unexpected
event because of the current situation with the larceny case. Sure
enough, before I had my next court session I was transferred to a 45 day
While I was there I learned everything about staying sober. All that I
knew was drugs. The word sober itself was from a foreign language. It
was during this time in rehab that I was strengthened and encouraged.
The determination level for getting clean was as high as it could go. It
was at this rehab where I finally became a real Christian and started
growing in Christ. I had realized earlier, while I was in Juvenile hall,
that there was no way God would find me innocent on Judgment Day and let
me into Heaven. I knew because of the lying, the stealing, the adultery,
and all my other sins I had done that my soul would be the kindling for
the fires of hell. That's why I so quickly clung to the cross when it
was revealed to me. After years of not even knowing why Christ died on
the cross I became aware of the salvation God offers humanity. I started
right away with Bible readings even though no one had ever told me that
is what Christians do. The desire to read the Bible just came natural.
Then the 45 days were up.
The court had released me from rehab on a PTA (promise to appear) to
court. It would be only a few more days until I would have to return to
that court room to settle the larceny case. It was early in the morning
when my mother and I went to the court house. The guards and the public
defender were standing by the metal detectors. As my mother and I walked
into the building we saw the public defender speaking to the guards and
smiling. As we started to empty our pockets to go through the detectors
the public defender said "You don't have to do that."
Assuming that he
couldn't have been speaking to us we continued to empty our pockets.
Then the defender gently grabbed my arm and said, "You don't have to do
that, you can turn around and go home right now." I was shocked. What
did he mean? Could I turn around and go home? It was only about three
months earlier that the court told me that I would be facing 5-10 years.
I couldn't comprehend what the man had meant.
That's when my mother
stepped up and said, "What are you talking about?" The public defender
explained how the case had been dropped and now there were no more court
cases, no more probation or drug testing. The court granted me a clean
slate as if nothing ever happened. So without hesitation we left and
I was the guilty criminal who God had mercy on. Those things all
happened to me almost three years ago now. I am still unaware
of all the details that happened in that court room but the one thing I
do know is that God answered my prayer. He not only got me out of the
larceny case, but He got me out of all my court-related problems. It was
determined, because of a case a month earlier that I would be on
probation for a year and a half. I was only about six months into that,
yet I was released from it. That had nothing to do with the larceny
case. God had been faithful to answer my prayer and so I have worked
diligently ever since to hold up my end of the deal.
Do you see how I didn't even take my charges seriously until I realized
the punishment? I was continually breaking the law but never received
any serious punishment, so I didn't take the law seriously. Maybe you are
just like I was except with Gods law. Maybe you're continually breaking
God's holy Law, you're living in sin, and aren't taking it seriously
because nothing too serious has happened yet. If you check history you
will find out that 10 out of 10 people die.
God promises that "it's
appointed a man once to die, and after that the Judgment." You may be
living in sin now and are not taking God's Law seriously, but Judgment
Day is coming. Remember this and think soberly and seriously about it:
you too will have your day in court. Once judgment is passed on that
"great and terrible day" there will be no appeals. You can't have your
charges dropped on that day. You can't have a fancy lawyer for yourself,
but rather you yourself will "give an account... to God." Be sure about
it, you will give an account "in the day when God will judge the secrets
of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel."
How do you know if you should be worried about giving God an account?
You might be thinking to yourself "well that's fine, I will tell God all
the good things I've ever done." God says that even your "righteousness
is as filthy rags." When God looks at your life tell me, what is He
going to see? Remember that nothing is hidden from His eyes. Every deed
done in darkness will be brought to light. Have you any secret sins that
you wouldn't want God to see? The 10 Commandments will be there on that
day. Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever used God's name in vain?
Have you ever stolen anything? Stealing is merely taking something that
doesn't belong to you? Did you know that Jesus said that if you look at
another person with lust, then you commit adultery, have you ever done
that? If you have then you're a lying, blaspheming, stealing, adulterer
at heart who is in big trouble when you die.
"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of
God? Do not be deceived." 1 Corinthians 6:9. Get honest with yourself
and admit that you have "fallen short of the glory of God." "The wages
of sin is death" God warns us. Well what sin? All sin, no matter if it
is big or small in our eyes. Is not all sin rebellion against God who
deserves our complete obedience to his Kingship? It all leads to death.
I don't care who you are, if you have ever sinned against God then you
deserve your death. Just like me, you deserve the wrath of God. It
doesn't matter if you're a janitor or if you're a politician. But let me
say this. I don't care who you are, if you have sinned against God, you
could be forgiven in less than a second!
Two thousand years ago Jesus Christ the Son of God was born of a virgin
and lived without sin so that He could be the "unspotted Lamb" to "take
away the sin of the world." Every bit of wrath that you're sinning
stored up for yourself, Christ took upon Himself because of His great
love and mercy. Isaiah 53:5 says "He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was
upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed." Get honest and admit that
"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his
own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."
If you have never turned away and forsaken your sins before then you
need to do that. Jesus Himself said that we need to be "born again" in
order to see the Kingdom of God. If you turn away from violating God's
Law, and believe that Christ took the penalty of your rebellion, then
God will grant you the free gift of everlasting life. The greatest gift
you could ever receive is eternal life, and the greatest gift you could
ever reject is the mercy of God.
What it means to be a Christian
Then read an
by Jesse Morrell:
The Church of
the Comfortable and Tolerant
Jesse Morrell. Posted with permission.