“Mrs. Vinturella? Are you Mrs. Vinturella?” the uniformed officer asked as I stood inside my garden gate.
“Yes, yes I am.” I responded bending and gently placing the hose on the ground.
At the first sight of the policeman with his holstered firearm my anxiety went on the rise. I wasn’t accustomed to lawmen stopping at my home before breakfast.
“Here, I have a court summons I must give to you.” he commented. My reluctance to accept the enveloped injunction was obvious. Shakily, I extended my hand against my will and the officer laid the folded documentation in the palm of my hand.
The muscles across my chest tightened as I didn’t know the best way to respond. “Thank you” didn’t seem honest and a simple”OK” didn’t sound respectful. So, there I stood frozen in fear as the officer shuffled back to his squad car.
Eventually, I made my way inside, but only to fumble over the threshold and have my knees hit the floor. Undone over everything, I sat there and cried and cried and cried.
This agonizing scenario went on for months; we would receive a subpoena to appear in court, only to have the proceedings postponed. Adding to the drama, it was actually the kids being required to participate in the judicial process. Hadn’t they been through enough?
Making the situation more unsettling, each time the hearing was rescheduled the girls had to reprepare to appear on the witness stand, that meant missing school and meeting at an attorney’s office to rehash the details of the accident.
It is honest to admit my nerves were shot when it came to dealing with the legalities of Samantha’s accident. I was clueless when it came to dealing with attorney’s. I didn’t want the kids rolling backwards in their recovery every time a date was reset and I wasn’t interested in who was at fault. Samantha was gone, assigning blame wouldn’t get her back.
Early on, The Holy Spirit made it very clear that it was God’s responsibility to handle accountability. However, knowing that didn’t help with the pre-trial jitters I experienced.
Actually, jitters isn’t a valid description of how I felt about returning to Chalmette, LA to sit in a courtroom with my family members and the accused. Gut wrenching revulsion is a better description.
I was nervous and afraid for myself and for my family. My sleep was disturbed and my waking hours felt like I was insane. Intimidation was my enemy.
Thankfully, a close friend could tell I walked a tightrope between giving in and giving up. Aware of all that was going on, she was moved to make a difference.
“Elizabeth, can I come over for coffee tomorrow morning?” she boldly asked. Trusting in her intentions, I welcomed her company and replied, “Sure, I would like that.”
It was then, seated with a friend at the start of our day that I received the reassurance that is promised in Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
I listened as my coffee companion read the scripture, but it wasn’t until I took the time to visualize the first part of the passage that I began to relax. Intentionally, I imagined Jesus sitting close to the end on the foremost bench in the courtroom looking backwards with love in His eyes as I ferried my family down the aisle.
My mind went on to create a scene in which Jesus was always present, presiding over the entire proceedings. It was then, when I perceived God as the ruling Authority over even the gentleman wrapped in robes and seated on the diadem did my feelings of dismay begin to dissipate.
After I grasped the truth in the first two parts of the scripture, the third part, the part about being fearless and encouraged was a no brainer. It made sense I no longer needed to fear the event nor the outcome because I believed Jesus would arrive on scene before I ever got there and would walk out of the courtroom right alongside of me.
However, as soon as my world got busy, I would lose the assurance this scripture supplies. My attitude grew edgier and my spirit would sink. I would notice myself feeling desperate and trapped in a situation I couldn’t change. After experiencing these setbacks several times, I learned and practiced the discipline of chanting scripture.
When feelings of despondency crept into psyche, when I began to stress over the well-being of the children, when I felt angst about the future of the accused, when any fear arose inside of me concerning the accident and the authorities, I purposefully repeated,
“Elizabeth, Jesus will already be there. All you need to do is show up and believe He will figure things out. Press in, and you will know His presence.”
Yes, I paraphrased and simplified the ancient words and repeated the holy message to myself. By doing so, my mind was encouraged, my spirit was energized and there simply wasn’t any room in my brain for thoughts that served to weaken my spirit.
Day after day I did this. Sometimes, several times a day I needed to do this.
And, even today , 5 years later I continue do this.
When intimidation seeks to destroy my confidence in Christ, I go to work against the enemy by chanting Deuteronomy 31:8.
P.S. – The Spirit of God sustained me and I survived the court proceedings without too many scars. The children never had to take the witness stand and the accused left the courtroom with a very light sentence to serve.
Indeed, clinging to His Presence throughout the process guaranteed peace during the proceedings!.
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