Not long ago I got a summons for federal jury duty. The possibility of having to report for service spanned a two week period of time. The government did not even require me to come in at all the first week of eligibility. My “luck,” however, ran out with the beginning of week two. Show up downtown on Monday at 9 AM in a coat and tie, the message said. And so I did.
Actually, strange as it might sound, I really don’t mind doing my civic duty in this regard. I have served on a county jury in the past. It was an armed robbery case that lasted an entire week. It was a fascinating experience. No, I can’t really afford the time away from my responsibilities any more than most other folks, but I have maintained that part of the stewardship of citizenship, like paying taxes, involves answering the jury duty call when it comes (Rom. 13:7).
I am grateful to live in a republic where the rule of law protects its citizenry. I would certainly want responsible folks serving on a jury for me if, God forbid, the time would come that I should need one. So I reported to the courthouse with a sense of civic pride compelling my availability for service and a certain positive anticipation that I might actually get chosen to serve.
After orientation about forty of us got ushered into the judge’s courtroom. She briefed us on the nature of the case and the anticipated time it might take to try it. Then began the arduous process called voir dire for almost three hours. She peppered us with question after question related to our past, legal experiences, relatives in law enforcement, etc., all with a view to determining which of us might be at all compromised in terms of sitting on the jury with impartial perspectives about the proceedings.
Finally the judge consulted with the attorneys to arrive at a list of twelve names and two alternates. One by one they were read. My name was not on the list. I was not chosen. I and the rest of us not deemed ideal for the task got sent home.
On the one hand, I felt relieved. I would be able to attend to my pastoral duties for the week without much interruption. On the other hand, I felt disappointed, even rejected, passed over, slighted, dissed (as my sons would say), shelved. They didn’t want me. In spite of the fact that the judge went to great lengths to assure us that not being selected meant none of those things, I still felt them. I drove away with a twinge of self pity and smug arrogance about how they missed the boat on having what would have proven to be a first-rate juror. No doubt my pride had something to do with the sovereignty of God in seeing to the fact that they didn’t pick Dr. Curtis Heffelfinger for service. They did ask for educational background and I did tell them I held an earned doctorate from RTS, Orlando. Mine was the only terminal degree in the bunch. Surely that had to count for something.
It didn’t. I don’t. Not in jury duty, not in life, not in eternity. I can’t say that I’ve come away with any profound insights about the doctrine of election from my federal jury duty snub. I’ve just come away more grateful than ever that God chose me, not for a jury, but for salvation from my sin and judgment that surely would have left me in the fires of hell for eternity had He not intervened by His grace. The words of Paul have been my refrain with renewed enthusiasm and gratitude. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him (Eph. 1:3-4).
I’ll take rejection by a gazillion judges for jury duty if I can possess the selection of the Judge of the universe that makes me His beloved child and delivers me from the wrath rightly due me for my rebellion and sin. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! He chose us not on the basis of works we had done but by His purpose and grace which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began (1 Tim. 1:9). Again, I say, we say, thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
May we never ever lose our wonder that the grace of Jesus would single us out and make us His own merely for the praise of His glorious grace!