Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury my name is Reid. Imagine a courtroom. There’s a judge, a jury, a prosecutor, defendant, and of course the media. In God’s courtroom, however, there’s only The Ultimate Judge and you. I try and think of it as a perfectly white room like heaven in Bruce Almighty. Jesus is sitting across the room and I am nothing more than a silhouette.
I’m shackled, bound, and defeated. I’ve committed my sin, my crime, my heinous act, and now it’s time to pay the consequences. But just as I think He’ll bang his gavel, He doesn’t. He walks over to me, unlocks my shackles and whispers to me, “Be free, my son. I will pay the price for you. For I love you more than you will ever know.” Wow. I deserve a life sentence in the depths of despair separated from His Glory, but God does the unthinkable. He forgives. He loves. He sends His Son. He provides grace and mercy. Remarkable. Unthinkable. Incredible.
Now it took me quite sometime to fully believe and trust that. My story began some 19 years ago in beautiful, sunny Colorado, or as the locals call it, God’s chosen state (For the record, nobody calls it that. But if God were to pick a state to live in, I’m pretty sure CO would be high on his list). I was born and raised in a strong Christian home.
My parents were both godly and they were on staff with Cru for 6 years. I went to church every Sunday and outside of a 4 month period my senior year of high school, I could probably count how many times I missed church on my hands. Not much. I never questioned going to church but I never really understood what it was about. My childhood was great, and nothing bad really happened to me in the first 12 or so years of my life. I played sports, hung out with friends and so on. But real life started to set in when I embarked on my journey into junior high.
Now, junior high is a horrible period in every peach fuzzed child’s life, but for me it was especially difficult. Instead of finding my identity in Christ I looked to other things to fill that void. Sports were something that always came natural to me. I’d always been good, better than many kids I played, but it never brought me true satisfaction. I tried fitting in with the cool kids only to find my self being made fun of and damaged emotionally to the point where I had zero self worth. I felt like it wasn’t even worth me being alive and that nobody loved me or even cared about how I felt. My focus was on me. How could I be loved, or accepted by anyone?
The summer before freshman year was the turning point. My parents told me about this FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) basketball camp that was happening in South Dakota and encouraged me to go. I thought, “Sure! I love sports and it would help me get better going into high school. Why not! Oh and the Jesus stuff would probably not all be bad.” So I went. After that week, my life would never be the same. God found me. He made me feel like I was worth something, like I mattered. He loved me! He chose me to be with Him in paradise for the rest of my life. Me? I don’t deserve it. I’m surely not better than anyone else, but the grace of Jesus Christ is enough to save. I wish I could say from that point on I lived my life for Christ and Christ only but that’s not the case. Junior High left a mark on me that was not ready to be fixed. I emotionally shut myself down and resorted to joking about others in a rude way and acting full of myself. These gave me a feeling of worth that I thought I needed.
Sports were still an idol for me. I was so eager to be good at all of them. By sophomore year I was a three-sport varsity athlete, quickly recognized as one of the better athletes of the teams. I was going to strive to play in college. God knocked at my door again, however, and brought FCA to my school. I was chosen as one of the student leaders. God really showed me that my worth shouldn’t be found in sports but only in Christ. I listened as best I could and started to try and do my best in those sports for the Glory of the Lord. Throughout the next two years of high school I grew sometimes but most often just led my life with Jesus on the sidelines. If I need a prayer or some help in a situation I’d put him in the game, but once he did that I went back to the center of my life. I kept trying to put my value in people and other things rather than Christ and his resurrection. It’s funny how we try and try to fulfill our life any other way but nothing fills us like our Lord.
Senior year came around and I found out that my youth pastor of three years, who I really looked up to, was getting a promotion. I didn’t want that change by any means, but tried to have a positive outlook. The new guy was a good guy but we didn’t connect as much as I did with my old pastor. Later that year I stopped going to church for a few weeks for either sickness or something of that sort. I realized that I didn’t miss it too much so I stopped going all together. And what I found is that not one person reached out to see where I was. Not a student, a staff, or the youth pastor seemed to even care that I was gone. That hurt. Church is supposed to be community, and that’s surely not what I felt. So I stopped going to church. Stopped praying. Stopped reading. Stopped everything. If God was going to allow a church to hurt me, I wasn’t gonna talk to him anymore.
Over the next four months I didn’t look to God at all. I was just in it for myself and nothing else. I looked to girls, jokes, leadership positions, and grades as a filler. I eventually attended a new church, which allowed me to go back to God but nothing was substantial until my freshmen year. During my first semester, I didn’t really go to Cru but every winter they put on a winter conference in Denver for the region. Even though I hadn’t gone to Cru, my dad told me he’d pay for me so I went, knowing nobody, just trying to encounter God. And boy did he show up. He found me again, mended my wounds, fixed my broken heart, and displayed His perfect Love and Grace. Since then I’ve been trying to put my trust completely in Him. My identity is in Christ, or at least that’s my goal everyday. In Luke 9:23 Jesus says that “if anyone would come after me, they must deny themselves, pick up their cross daily, and follow me.” Being a follower of Jesus is not a one-time get of jail free prayer. It is a daily phenomenon. A battle at times, but we never battle in vain. For we may have struggles, but he promises enough grace and enough strength to get through this life. If He is with us, then why should we fear anything?
In Christ’s courtroom he has all the evidence and justification to swing that gavel and condemn us. But am I sure glad he doesn’t.