The Witness Stand

scales-justice

I think it’s no accident that I’m a legal assistant. I used to work in a law firm, but now, I work from home. My employer is an attorney, so needless to say, he knows the rules. My boss knows most of the laws, and the difference between right and wrong. He no longer practices law through a law firm, but rather, he serves as a mediator. Basically, he steps in as an arbitrary party and listens to the different sides of a case. He counsels the parties, and tries to facilitate a settlement before the matter reaches trial. It’s a good thing. A noble calling. My boss tries to help people resolve issues. And from what I hear, he does a good job.

And so, my being a legal assistant and working for an attorney seems natural. See, although I broke some rules growing up, I have always been a rule follower deep down. I was the one who followed the crowd, but always, there was a piece of me that feared the consequences of my actions. Although I tried to blur the lines a time or two, I could never completely cross over the line that separates right from wrong. And in contemplating my inflexibility, I get tickled when I think about my time in the Air Force. It was during our technical training (a little looser than basic training, but still many rules to follow), when my girlfriend had a good laugh at my expense. See, you were supposed to march everywhere you went. However, only if there were two or more people. Once, I had to go back to the dorms at lunchtime… all by myself. And do you know that because I was so scared of breaking the rules, I marched back to the school… all by myself. This in itself was against the rules, because you cannot be in formation when there is only one! At any rate, my friend had stayed behind during the lunch break, and she told me she could see me coming from afar. For she witnessed my rigidity, stiffly performing facing movements as I maneuvered across the air field. And although she couldn’t make out my face, she just knew it had to be me. Because she knew of my fear of breaking the rules, she could spot me a mile off.

Yes, I am a legal assistant, my employer is an attorney, and I like to follow the rules. So not surprisingly, I love the TV show Law & Order. In great anticipation, I listen… “In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups… the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders.”  Actually, this comes from the criminal intent version of the show, and I prefer SVU. But I digress… Law & Order. I like law and order in my life, and I like law & order in the show. I am a woman who needs the law, and I can assure you, I crave order. I want to know the rules so I can follow them. I want to know black from white and right from wrong. And as much as I tried to be a free-spirit in my youth, this is my true nature.

Since I have been a legal assistant for at least ten years now, and since I have a love of the Law & Order series on TV, I find it absolutely astonishing that I am just now picking up on some of the legal terms I am seeing in Scripture. Oh, not the more obvious ones… There is the Law. God’s Law. It’s what His people followed through Old Testament times. And Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of that law (Matthew 5:17). But here lately, I’ve been seeing some more subtle terms…

Isaiah 43:10: “You are my witnesses,” says the LORD. Today, witnesses are called to the witness stand… the place occupied by a person giving testimony in a court of law. It’s in Hebrews 12 that I find I am surrounded by a cloud of witnesses… God’s people are His witnesses. It’s Psalm 50 that displays God as Judge, for from on high He issues His summons to heaven and earth so that he can judge His people. It is God Himself who will testify against the wicked. And what does that word wicked mean? It means criminal, guilty one, one guilty of crime. And who in the Bible is wicked? Esau and Cain, for one murdered outright, and the other held murder in his heart. In God’s eyes, hate is hate whether it’s acted upon or not. And if one harbors hate, she makes both God and herself a liar. The one who stores up hate is not a credible witness. And the one who unleashes her tongue for evil and deceit, this one is wicked. So God Himself will lay out the case before the wicked.

Yes, in my trial by the light of God’s fire, the case has been laid out against me. And I’m so surprised to find myself sitting here… in the witness stand of God’s court. Me. A rule-follower. The woman who needs law and order has broken God’s law. Thus, my life is disorderly. For it’s clear that I’ve neglected to adhere to God’s Law of Love and His perfect Law of Liberty (Romans 14). Restitution must be made for my sins. He is right when He passes sentence, and He is blameless when He judges (Psalm 51:4). So, He sits and He waits. For me. Dare I admit my guilt? My heart, which is pierced by conviction, is evidence of my guilt. So shall I speak up and confess? Or will I remain silent? What about the Miranda rights… do they apply here? Do I have the right to remain silent because anything I say or do may be used against me. Do I have the right to consult an attorney before speaking. Or can I plead the fifth? For I know that anything I say in my defense will only further implicate me. What can I do?

For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself-a ransom for all, a testimony at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2:5-6

And then, I remember. I made a confession long ago. And it’s only through that confession that I am saved from God’s judgment today. For Romans 10:9 says that I must confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord! I don’t have to plead the fifth today, for I pled Jesus years ago! And the truth is, it’s only His testimony that stands in God’s court. Because for the life of me, I cannot get it right. Not all the time. I fall short, and by the grace of God, I have an advocate. I have One who sits at the right hand of God and intercedes on my behalf. And you know, I also have someone else, for I have a Counselor.

Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send Him to you. When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment… John 16:7-8

It is God’s Holy Spirit inside me that guides me in all truth (John 16:13). He is my attorney who comes alongside me… to guide and to help, to counsel and protect. In reality, it is God’s Spirit that leads me. He is the line and lets me know when I cross over from right into wrong. He is the reason I find myself on trial today, for He convicts my heart. But also, He is the One that reminds me of the truth… Jesus. Because Jesus already paid the price for my crime, I don’t have to. And so, I shall be released. I will walk away from this… a free woman. For my record has been expunged.

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12

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