The door to the courtroom opened and the prisoner shuffled in, handcuffed and in shackles. The policeman led him to the defendant’s box and gruffly told him to sit down.
Shortly afterwards the bailiff stood and called out in a strong, clear voice, “Rise, for the Most High Judge comes!”
All rose as the door behind the bench opened and the Judge entered, bringing with him a strong aura of power and authority. A sense of awe washed over everyone at being in the presence of such an august and mighty Ruler.
“All may sit,” The Judge said. “Prosecutor you may approach the bench.”
The Prosecutor rose and strode eagerly forward, his tail lashing in anticipation of the kill. “Your honor,” he said,” smirking, “This man is clearly guilty as charged. And I charge him again with treason, that is, with rebellion against you, disobeying your clear orders in the middle of battle, endangering his comrades and sowing the seeds of disobedience in those who followed him.”
The Judge looked down solemnly. “Those are serious charges, worthy of life imprisonment.” He turned to the prisoner, “How do you answer these charges?” he asked.
“Ah, well, your honor, I think he’s making this much more serious that it really is. All I did was want my peace. I avoided unnecessary conflict. Isn’t that what you want for us? Peace and quiet? Nice relations?”
The Judge frowned and turned to the Prosecutor. “Let us see what evidence you have, and then I will again address the prisoner.”
The Prosecutor, stroked his horns and smiled smugly, sure of his case. “Certainly, your honor. I call my first witness, the spirit of fear.”
The spirit rose from his seat and floated to the witness stand. “Tell us,” said the Prosecutor, “what you have observed in the defendant’s life.”
The spirit rubbed his ethereal hands and smiled so his crooked and pointed teeth showed. “Why certainly, sir,” he said, bowing deeply to the Prosecutor while carefully keeping his face turned away from the Judge. “This man refused to submit what he knows to be true. Instead of obeying the law of the Judge—and he knows the law well—he chooses constantly to cave into what other people think, to live in the fear of man and to the fears I put into his mind.”
“Give us an example,” said the Prosecutor.
“Oh, I can give you lots of them,” the spirit replied, enjoying his role. “Most of them have to do with his family life. He’s afraid of his wife, so he let’s her lead him. He doesn’t want the trouble of standing on his own hind legs and obeying the Judge’s law to lead, so whatever she says, he does. He even uses the vocabulary of submission: ‘My wife won’t let me do this or that,’ he says, or ‘I have to ask my wife before I can answer.’ His wife puts him down in public, constantly correcting him, and he says nothing to this, neither in public nor in private. He withdraws from confrontation, he lets her lead.”
The Judge interrupted. “This is certainly against the laws I have laid down. A man is to lead his wife. In failing to do so, he steals her security, he steals from his children a proper example, he steals from others the witness to righteousness that I built into marriage. This is certainly a serious crime.”
The prisoner hung his head.
“And that’s not all, “ the evil spirit continued, “This failure to lead his wife comes from his failure to lead himself according to your law. He is a complainer, he does not acknowledge your presence and help and sovereignty, he does trust you to help him, fleeing instead to what he thinks is a safer place, withdrawal from responsibility. He lives in unbelief, denigrating your name, your Word and your honor.”
The Judge turned to the prisoner. “What do you say to this?”
The prisoner squirmed. “Well, your honor, some of this is true…”
“Some or all?” asked the Judge sternly.
“Um, well, I guess all of it, but I don’t think it’s as bad as it’s being painted. You don’t know how scary my wife can be when she is mad, or how she can make me really uncomfortable. If I stood up to her, things would get really messy and who knows if they’d ever get straightened out?”
The Prosecutor broke in, “There, your honor, he condemns himself out of his own mouth—he does not believe that your law leads to righteousness. He does not believe that obedience is better than comfort. He does not believe that you give him power to do what is right. He does not believe that you can change his wife. And he does not believe that it is his job to give his wife security by leading her well.”
The Judge nodded gravely. “You are right, Prosecutor.” He turned to the prisoner. “Without the need of further witnesses, based on your own description of your wrong doing, I declare you guilty of rebellion against my law, of disobedience in the battle of life, of leading others astray, and of failure to provide the protection I desired for your family. I condemn you to life imprisonment in the cell of fear, where you will experience unending frustration and futility as well as fumbling failures. I sentence you to unhappiness, endless conflict and suffering until you repent. Case closed.”
The prisoner gaped, his mouth hanging open, his face slack. He gathered himself together and fell on his knees, raising his handcuffed hands to the Judge, “But, but, your Honor, that’s too strict a sentence for so small a failure!”
The Judge frowned, “So small a failure?!!! You have no idea how serious this willful disobedience of yours is. It is the same sin that Adam committed in the garden when he failed to lead himself and his wife properly in the face of the attack of the enemy. Just like Adam, in your failure to lead, you steal my glory, you jeopardize the future of your family and the service to which I’ve called you. You also exposed those around you to temptation and you weaken the witness I’ve prepared for you to give those seeking for salvation. You have also left your wife in the illusion that she can find security by controlling the people and events around her, and thereby left her in the clutches of the Prosecutor–and you say this isn’t serious? Take him away, bailiff.
“But your honor!” the prisoner shouted, “I thought you were a God of compassion and forgiveness and grace.”
“I am,” said the Judge, “but you have refused to accept my grace and pass it on to others. You’ve had no compassion on your wife, only on yourself; you have given no grace to your family, only to yourself. Go and think on these things in your cell. I will come and visit you.
Remember, I did not send this spirit of fear to you, but you have listened to him instead of me. When you are willing to lay down your ideas and to take up mine, when you are willing to take up the power, the love and the clear thinking I send by my Spirit, then there will be a hope for you. I can only urge you to be quick in repentance before it is too late for your family. Case closed.”
The Prosecutor rubbed his hands together as the prisoner was led away. The Judge looked after him in sadness. The prisoner cried himself to sleep that night. The Spirit prepared to guide the prisoner to read the next morning to Psalm 19.
Psa 19:8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,giving light to the eyes.
Psa 19:9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.
The ordinances of the the Lord are sure and altogether righteous.
Psa 19:10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.
Psa 19:11 By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
Psa 19:14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
God waits, repentance waits, restoration waits. And you?