It was my first time ever having to come in for jury duty. I saw him almost immediately. He was a large man dressed in a yellow plaid shirt. His collar stood upright against the back of his neck, and his arms crossed angrily across his chest. He avoided eye contact. He just sat spring-loaded with impatience.
Finally, 2 1/2 hours after we were told to be there, the first group was called. My number was first; his was somewhere in the middle. While I interacted with my fellow jurors – helping a Vietnamese woman understand why she was still there when she barely spoke English, sharing Christ with a man who awkwardly flattered me – he just stood alone, his arms frozen in the same position as if by rigor mortis.
He was seated in the row in front of me in the courtroom, and never did his arms move, and never did he attempt to interact with anyone – until the judge began querying jurors for reasons they should be excused. Then it became clear to everyone who was oblivious to his body language that he didn’t want to be there. And he would find every possible reason to be sent home.
Is that how I seemed in the days leading up to my summons? I wondered. It was, no doubt, inconvenient, as I had let everyone around me know. I’m self-employed. I have an unforgiving diet. I’m prone to sudden, serious bouts of asthma. I have two large dogs and no one to take care of them when I’m away. And I’m self-employed.
But the night before I served, a friend had said to me, “We need people of integrity to serve. If I was on trial I would want you on my jury, Cheri. It is a privilege to serve.” It was a much-needed slap upside the head.
So I went, gluten-free lunch in hand, and pulled out my Kindle to do my daily Bible reading as I waited among the jury pool. That day I was in Daniel and Mark. And Jesus’ words jumped out as a scathing indictment of my reluctance to serve.
And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him. – Mark 12:17
Because I went, a middle-aged man was reminded of the faith he left behind and the impending return of our Savior. A young man learned about the hope he had in Christ. And a young woman who clearly had made some bad choices in her life received prayer about which she will never know on this side of heaven.
I did my civic duty. I also did my duty as a citizen of heaven. Next time I receive a summons, refrain from head-slapping. I’m in.