The Judge

We sat on our couch, watching courtroom proceedings on zoom for seven hours.

It was sentencing day. The jury had already declared the defendant guilty. But both sides’ attorneys, as well as the perpetrator and the victims of his fraud were allowed to raise objections or make statements of his impact on our lives.

The Judge was consistently patient, listening to all sides. He treated each of us, including the defendant, with courtesy and respect. We were never felt rushed or like we were wasting the Court’s time. The Judge carefully expressed the rationale behind his decision to overrule or uphold each objection.

The trial has dragged on for four long years and four months. Along with quite a few others, Don and I were victims of the defendant’s fraud. We were all eager to put this behind us and move on. Some victims lost their life savings, pensions, and went into debt because they believed in the cause this man represented. Due to the stress of the fraud and trial, several probably died earlier than they would have otherwise.

We were blessed not to have fallen for “F’s” schemes longer than we did.

Even when handing down his sentence, the Judge spoke to the defendant with compassion. “You’re an intelligent man, and have done some positive things. I don’t know where it went wrong for you that made you choose to do what you did.”

BUT … the law was clear. He chose to go another way and has to pay the consequences for his crime.

We were very touched by one victim’s testimony. An articulate young man, he spoke of God’s forgiveness and desire for “F” to repent and seek forgiveness. He forgave “F,” but encouraged the Judge to give the maximum sentence in light of the loss, pain, illness, and suffering “F” put on so many.

It reminded me that one day we will each stand before the King of Kings, the fair and just Judge of all mankind. He has already provided forgiveness … but He gives us the choice of whether or not to receive it.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

“There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”

John 3:16-17

God won’t ask how much we gave to this charity or that, or what good deeds we did. In love and grace, God has provided the way through Jesus’ death, resurrection, and offer of forgiveness and new life to each of us. Our choice is whether or not to receive it.

And our eternity will be based on that answer.

And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.

I John 5:11-12

My only answer to the King of Kings is “I’m here with Jesus, who died and rose again that I might have life eternal.”

Questions? I’d love to talk with you.

4 Responses

  1. Laura Bennet says:

    Wow! I had no idea you went through anything like this. what a long time to experience a terrible situation. I’m so sorry for the losses you endured. I’m praying that God will restore all in his time and for his purpose. In the meantime, you’ve shown us so beautifully how God longs to be merciful to us and extends that grace through Jesus. Your story serves a good purpose. I love that nothing is wasted with God. Even the hardest of situations he uses for good in some way. Thanks for sharing!

    • carolnl says:

      Thank you Laura. I pray our story will encourage someone else. We didn’t tell anyone about it for quite awhile because we were embarrassed to be victims. But in it all God has a purpose and can use all things for His glory. I appreciate your comment!

  2. Karen O'Connor says:

    Wow, Carol. This reads like a novel. I’m eager to know the outcome–the sentencing–and if you and Don are recovering from your loss, whatever that is. I can only imagine the stress. I love the Bible verses you chose. So appropriate.

    • carolnl says:

      Thank you Karen. What an encouraging comment! His sentence is 9 years, four already served while the trial was going on, after which I expect he will flee the country. He broke one woman’s back, took everything from others. I don’t expect we’ll ever recover our losses but God is good and we’re okay. We released it years ago, for our own good and in obedience to the Lord. But we are glad he was finally apprehended and tried and sentenced. We can tell you more when we see each other.

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