There I sat, dumbstruck, my mental jaw dropping lower and lower with every word of the judge: “This jury will meet every Wednesday as long as the case is in session, and you will have several cases throughout the year. You must keep these proceedings secret. You may subpoena witnesses to testify, and you may ask them questions…” What???
Last Friday, I was drafted into the 4th judicial district’s Grand Jury for the year of 2014. The entire year. I was told that I must come to the courthouse every Wednesday from 9-5 and investigate the cases set before the jury. All the cases are criminal, and most of them are violent. Nevermind that I’m a software engineering student in my most difficult year of school. Wow! I couldn’t believe this was happening to me!
I told my parents, and of course, they were just as displeased as I. “Did you tell them you’re a full-time engineering student??” They asked me. “Of course I did! Apparently it wasn’t good enough,” I replied. Over the next few days, the reality sunk in: I was going to have to drop a class this semester, and who-knows-how-many classes would have to be put on hold this summer and fall. My graduation would be delayed a whole year because these classes are prerequisites, and as I saw it, there was no getting around that fact.
I was scheduled to appear again today to continue the case presented on Friday. However, yesterday, my mom called a friend who is an attorney, and he called the courthouse. He told my mom to have me write a letter to the DA and the judge explaining my extenuating circumstances and pray they’d excuse me. Today was my last chance.
I wrote the required letters and took them with me this morning to the courthouse. I held my breath while the DA left the room to bring the letters to the judge and discuss the matter. After a few minutes, he called me back to the judge’s chambers. We conversed for a few minutes about the details in my letter, and the judge said, “The DA has consented to let you go, and I do as well. You are dismissed from the jury.”
I could barely contain my elation. I called my boyfriend, Alex, immediately upon returning to my car and yelled for joy into my hands-free mic, “I FEEL LIKE I JUST GOT OUT OF PRISON!” He laughed and said, “Some poor person in the reserves is gonna get a call this morning, ‘Sir/Ma’am, you’re going to have to report for jury duty for the rest of the year.’ Do you feel bad about that?” I thought for a second, then replied, “I would like to serve, honestly. I’m grateful to live in a free country and it would be an honor to sit on the jury. But I can’t do it with school.” Then I added, “And my mom has taught me an extremely valuable lesson in life: those who ask, receive.”
Just the other day, my mom talked AT&T down 80 dollars per month on our phone bill. I don’t know how she does it.
The whole situation got me thinking: how often in our lives do we sit like the others on the jury, accepting of our fate and unwilling to ask for a better option because we should “grin and bear it”? How many of us live in a place of defeat, a spiritual desert, and a material lacking simply because we aren’t bold enough to ask for more?
When Elijah was about to be taken into heaven by God, he asked Elisha, “Is there anything you want me to do for you?” Elisha replied, “Give me a double-portion of your spirit.” Elijah said, “You have asked for a difficult thing.” But God granted his request. Elisha was bold in asking for blessing, and God was pleased and granted it.
James tells the believers in his letter, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” He does not say, “You do not have because you ask for things like money that God doesn’t promise you.” He does rebuke them for spending what they get on their pleasures. However, I believe that sometimes we don’t ask God for things we want because we don’t believe we can ask God for them or that he’d answer that request. Sure, if we ask for things out of the wrong motive, it wouldn’t be good for God to grant them to us. But God likens his giving to that of earthly fathers. My earthly father often gives me gifts that I don’t need, but that I’d simply like. Why wouldn’t God delight in giving us those gifts as well? Maybe not always material gifts, but spiritual blessings as well?
Christ gave to give us life, and life abundantly. Not life defeated. Not life average. “You do not have because you do not ask God.”
None of the others on the jury got out of the commitment. Why? Because they possibly did not ask. Should I feel guilty that I got to go? No.
Sometimes, I think it’s easy to feel guilty about our blessings, when I think that the Lord would rather us thank Him, and strive to help others as much as we can. To feel guilty about your blessings is to bury the talent; to thank God for them and use them to glorify him is to multiply the talent.
If you need something, ask God. If you want something, ask God. Ask in faith, believing that he is good and wants to give you good gifts. The worst thing he could say is no, and the best he could say is yes. If a child comes to his father and asks for something he shouldn’t be given, such as yet another candy bar or cookie after dinner, would the father ridicule him or be indignant at his request? No! He would gently correct the child and explain why he can’t have any more candy. God does that sometimes, but other times he says yes. “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks receives, everyone who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Have a blessed week!