The Third Chair

When the trial began, I winced when my name was called. I dragged myself out of life and into the courtroom where my audience had eyes filled with pity. My bottom lip quivered and my body squirmed while I whispered the story that brought me to the booth reserved for victims.
I wished, with all my heart, to be somewhere else.
Soon, my eyes spotted an empty seat on the other side of the courtroom. When no one was looking, I tiptoed across the wood and slid into that chair. There, my audience had eyes filled with scorn. My shoulders sagged under the weight of my wrongs as I mumbled the story that brought me to the booth reserved for the guilty.
I wished, with all my heart, to be somewhere else.
During that first part of the trial, when overwhelming and confusing evidence was being presented, I swung on a pendulum of panic, from victim to guilty, over and over again.
From one chair to the next.
Later, when the trial was well underway, I settled myself back into the victim’s chair. There, all that was expected from me was my story, and I was relieved. Eventually, I held up my scars as evidence without a quiver or a squirm. I raised my voice and pointed my finger across the courtroom. Blame became a numbing drug for my pain, and I was addicted.
It was clear that this was where I belonged.
But then, as the case unfolded, new evidence was uncovered that identified me as the guilty one. The blame that had once comforted me was now convicting, and it shoved me across the courtroom once again. I was expected to provide unending answers and alibis, but nothing cleared my name. Burdened by shame, I hunched in despair. Guilt became a salt-based cleanser for my wounds, and I was obsessed.
It was clear that this was where I belonged.
But somehow, in my stooped posture, I noticed my Defender beckoning me. He came near and ushered me to a third chair, in the center of the courtroom. Had it been there the whole trial? How had I missed it? 
From this seat, I had a better view of the trial. From my new place, I saw that the audience had eyes for Him, who is a Master in trial work.
And my trial continues.
I hear the evidence and it is clear that there is guilt… and therefore, a victim. But He, the one who moved me, sits in my place when my name is called.
He takes my seat as a victim. His work on the cross is held up as evidence but His words never condemn. His love story overshadows my tragedy and His hands reach out in forgiveness instead of pointing to blame. 
Across the courtroom, He also takes my seat in the box for the guilty, though he wronged no one. His strong shoulders never sag under the weight and He offers love in the place of alibis. His name seems to be answer enough.
From my new perspective, this trial is less about pain and more about purpose.
From where I now sit, my defense is less about guilt and more about grace.
From my new seat, gratitude becomes a healing balm for my soul, and I can rest.   
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will giveyou rest. Matthew 11:28

Holly Barrett

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