Pedaling his bike with pent up furry, Justin’s adrenalin was about to peak as he reached the crest of the hill. He could feel the burn of the muscles in his thighs. As he headed down the two mile hill at break-neck speed, Justin could hear the rhythm of the bike, click-click-click-click-click. Squinting to keep his eyes from drying out, he began to grit his teeth.
Skillfully, he maneuvered every curve with smooth agility. With fierce grit, he pedaled hard as he approached the slight climb in the middle of the hill, gaining fresh momentum. Flexing his fingers on the handle bars, Justin felt freedom at his finger tips. He arched his back and stretched, releasing one hand at a time and sat straight up raising his hands in the air.
The exhilarative thrill rushed through Justin’s entire being. Without warning, his eye caught sight of an unexpected retaining wall. Panic stricken, he grabbed his handle bars and attempted to apply the breaks.
“Can’t stop, can’t stop,” Justin screamed as he headed straight into the retaining wall.
Gasping and panting, Justin bolted upright in bed, soaked in sweat; he clinched his fists almost as tight as he clenched his teeth. Attempting to settle his breathing he forced his fingers to uncurl and flexed his jaw to release the tension in his facial muscles.
Sleep escaped Justin after the deadly dream. Laying in the silence of the night his mind began to torment him. Longing to pray, he could only utter questions. “God, will I ever taste true freedom again? Is there hope ahead or a cement wall?”
The buzz of overhead lighting started a routine Justin performed everyday for the last ten years. Sluggishly eating his oatmeal and O.J, he determined to go for a run after breakfast. Aware of his eleven o’clock appointment, Justin donned his black beanie and zipped up a light jacket and headed to the track.
Every step, every breath, Justin purposefully released the anxiety of the nightmare. Remembering a verse he claimed three years ago, Justin let the truth of God’s Word sink in: “The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”
Letting loose of his fear and worry, he whispered a prayer that God’s will would be done in his life.
Adjusting his necktie before being lead through the double doors, Justin glanced at the clock. Two minutes before his appointment.
“All rise for the Honorable Judge Leonard Thompson”
Justin nervously adjusted his necktie as the formalities began.
“Mr. Parker,” Judge Thompson addressed Justin.
“I see here that you were 17 when the crime occurred.” The judge stared at Justin over his half glasses.
“Let me see if I have all the facts. You were not the driver, nor did you carry any stolen items?”
“That is correct, sir”
“You did not carry a weapon.” Looking up, Judge Thompson adjusted his glasses.
“It says here that Mr. Warren testified that you had no idea he was carrying a weapon. This has been documented numerous times in your paperwork.”
Nodding, as if to emphasis this point, Justin firmly stated, “Yes sir.”
The silence in the room caused Justin to squirm. The dark suited stranger seated next to him glared at Justin in warning.
Judge Thompson heaved a sigh. “Ten years ago, you were tried as an adult at 17 and sentenced to fifteen years for what? Attempted robbery?”
Justin closed his eyes briefly and an instant memory shot through his mind vividly. There on the floor, in a puddle of blood, an innocent man. He could see his friend standing over him with a .45 in his trembling hand.
Justin mustered up the strength for his answer. “Attempted armed robbery, sir.”
“But you weren’t armed and didn’t know your so called friend was armed.”
“Guilt by association.”
“Alright, I’m ready to give my judgment.” Judge Thompson cleared his throat as Justin and his lawyer stood. “I think you had a problem with choosing the right friends. From all I have read, I see a follower, not a leader. I believe you have served duly for your part in the crime ten years ago. I will sign the papers for your release. You are free to go.” Thompson removed his glasses, “And Parker, use wisdom when you choose who to follow.”
Fighting tears, Justin squared his shoulders, pointing heavenward, he firmly stated, “Yes sir.”
*verse quoted is Psalm 147:11 (NIV)
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