When I received a jury duty summons last November, my reaction was, “Oh, no, I just can’t put my life on hold during the holidays and change my busy schedule!” I read on and was relieved to find out that one reschedule was allowed. I breathed a sigh of relief and quickly filled out and mailed the postcard saying that I would be more available in February. I then promptly forgot about it.
Well, February arrived and so did another jury summons (grumble, grumble). There was no getting out of it this time. The first day, I got up extra early and arrived at the Hillsboro courthouse by 7:45 am. I joined a long line of other bedraggled prospective jurors standing in the rain waiting to go through security.
Once inside the courthouse, I sat for a while until my name was called. Inside the courtroom, we were asked many questions. Once the lawyers were satisfied that they had weeded out those who seemed to have strong, biased opinions, I found myself sitting in the jury box!
The criminal trial began that afternoon. The defendant was accused by the state lawyer of child molestation. The defendant’s lawyer said, “It simply just didn’t happen.” We listened for several days to testimony from witness after witness representing both sides. Due to the sensitive nature of the alleged crime, some of the testimony was heartbreaking.
As the days went by, I realized that a sort of community spirit had begun to form among us. A group of strangers had been thrown together to decide the guilt or innocence of one man. If we declared him guilty, he would face prison time and be branded for life as a sex offender. This was a great burden to bear, and we wanted to share it with each other and make the right decision.
Finally, closing arguments were finished, and we were sequestered. All twelve of us were bursting to share our impressions and experiences of the past several days. It was 5 p.m., and most of us were running on adrenaline and talking all at once. Our daunting task was to find the defendant either guilty or innocent on six different counts.
I began to realize that not everyone thinks as I do! As we deliberated and the hours ticked by, it looked as if we might become a “hung jury.” By 10:15 p.m., I was tired, frustrated and discouraged.
It suddenly dawned on me to take time out and ask for Divine Guidance. Miraculously, and in minutes, we had reached a guilty verdict. It was clear to me that God had been brought into this difficult situation to guide us. I was now at peace with the outcome.
Why couldn’t I have remembered to pray earlier by depending less on myself and more on God? It seems Divine Guidance is always present. Hopefully, in the future, I’ll remember to ask and deeply listen more often to the Spiritual Counselor.