I was sitting in a waiting room this week when I picked up the June issue of GQ magazine. There really wasn’t much worth reading save for the June “Letter From the Editor,” authored by GQ Editor in Chief Jim Nelson.
Nelson began his letter by lamenting that he’s always being called for jury duty; that he always seems to be chosen to actually serve on juries; and that he always hates the experience.
The night before his last appearance for jury duty, Nelson wrote, he “said a prayer to baby Jesus…asking him to use his baby Jesus powers and to please Lord not let them pick me like they always do.”
I started to put the magazine down after reading that opening paragraph because I didn’t find the mockery of “baby Jesus” funny when Will Farrell did it in “Talladega Nights” and didn’t find it any funnier when Nelson parroted Farrell in his monthly column.
But I read on. And I’m glad I did. Because Nelson told an extraordinary true-to-life story that to me – if not to him – reveals the power of the Holy Spirit.
As GQ’s editor feared, he was indeed selected to sit on a jury. And, not only that, he was chosen to be the jury’s foreman.
Nelson and his fellow jurors found themselves seated for the trial of Trevell Coleman, a 36-year-old black man who walked into a Harlem police station in 2010 and confessed to murder.
What was remarkable about Coleman’s confession is that the murder to which he confessed happened all the way back in 1993. For 17 years, he had gotten away with his crime.
It wasn’t that police were out looking for him, because they could have easily apprehended him. That’s because Coleman at one time had a pretty high profile as a rapper. He was known as G. Dep. He was a member of rap mogul P. Diddy’s stable at Bad Boy Records.
Coleman had no interest in reviving his rap career. He simply wanted to come clean. So Nelson and his fellow jurors reluctantly affirmed Coleman’s guilt. And, last month, the newly convicted murderer was sentenced to 25-years-to-life in prison.
GQ’s editor found Coleman’s confession absolutely astounding. But I don’t. Because that’s what can happen when a sinner is convicted by the Holy Spirit; when he or she comes to repentance.
Nelson felt bad about putting Coleman away. He reasoned that the former rapper already had been tortured by guilt nearly half his 36 years. But it didn’t appear that Coleman, himself, felt bad about his sentence.
I believe that’s because a great burden has been lifted from his life. He no longer has to bear his secret sin.
So, now, even if he spends the rest of his life behind bars, Coleman has the comfort of knowing he has been set free by Jesus – not the baby to whom Nelson prayed, but the risen Savior.
And whom the Son sets free, is free indeed.