February 2006 - Volume 10, Issue 7

A Case Of Divine Intervention

By Janice Alonso

Photo of blue sky and puffy clouds

Sometimes things happen so dramatically to reveal God's hand at work that it is impossible to deny His divine intervention and its meaning. Other times, the intervention is more subtle, and His purpose hazy, only that we were chosen by God as His vessel for relaying that message. The latter was my experience recently, but God set the wheels in motion three weeks before the day arrived for my role when I was summoned to appear for jury duty.

Often our minister gives the congregation "tokens" to remind us of a sermon or a series of sermons he is presenting. We've gotten lapel pins, campaign-like buttons, miniature crosses, pamphlets and a variety of stickers. During that time we were in a series about how to get God's message to children... not just "our" children, all children. One morning, when I went to the parking lot after the service, I found a magnetic bumper sticker on the back of my car. The best I can remember, I've only had one other bumper sticker. After 911, my daughter-in-law Alisa gave me an American flag. I proudly displayed the symbol of support for my country until one day it disappeared. It either fell off or someone took it, but I never replaced it. That Sunday, when I saw the addition to the rear of my vehicle, I smiled, decided I liked the sentiment and would leave it on until it either fell off or someone took it.

The next day I arrived for jury duty. I took a seat in the large room and waited. Soon a woman called my name, told me I was number thirty-six and asked me to stand with the group being assembled. When she finished, I followed amid the forty-nine other people called as she herded us down a long corridor to an elevator that took us to the fifth floor. Once there she lined us up, gave us each a card with our number written on it and led us through a doorway into one of the many court rooms that lined the halls. We settled into our seats and listened as the judge told us that the two young boys sitting before us had been indicted for assault, under-aged possession of a weapon and armed robbery. He proceeded to explain the process of jury selection. Both the Prosecuting and Defending Attorneys would ask questions to us as a group. The first set of questions we would answer by holding up our numbered card. Later we would be questioned individually about our answers. The judge emphasized that we were to answer all the questions put to us by each set of attorneys, and we were to answer them truthfully. Then we stood and took an oath promising we would do so. The Prosecution started.

For those of you who've never been part of the jury selection process, the questions asked usually deal with experiences in your life that might bias your ability to make a decision on that particular trial. For example, most of our questions ran along the lines of: "Have you, or anyone you know, ever been the victim of a crime?"; "Do you have, or hold close, a teenaged boy who's ever gotten into trouble?"; and, "Have you, or anyone you know, ever had a gun pointed at you?" The Prosecuting Attorney had a long list of questions, and we in turn, held up our cards to the ones that applied to us as the Court Reporter recorded our numbers.

The Defending attorneys had only a few questions. My heart paused at the last one. "Do you have a bumper sticker on your car?"

When the first part of the selection process ended, the individual inquiries began. Each person who had answered that he/she had a bumper sticker was asked what the bumper sticker said. Most promoted AAA Auto Service or an educational institution. Many had flags or yellow ribbons that supported our troops. Just as many had pink ribbons that advocated breast cancer research. Several were proud parents of honor students. One older man made us laugh with his message: "Get out of my way - I'm going fishing!"

As I sat there waiting for my number to be called, I tried to figure for whom my "message" was meant. What I realized was, that it wasn't important for me to understand. What was important was for me to speak loudly and clearly enough so that no one would mistake its wording. My time came.

"Juror number thirty-six," a voice called.

I stood and smiled and answered all the clarifying questions put to me by the Prosecuting Attorney and then waited for the Defending Attorney.

"You answered that you, too, have a bumper sticker," he said.

I nodded that I did.

"And what does it say?"

I lifted my chin and spoke slowly so that the words could resound throughout one small court room in the Fulton County Justice Center, "Love God, love people."