The Man in the Turban

The elderly gentleman stood next to a pickup truck as I pulled into my space in the courthouse parking lot. He and the truck looked like they belonged to each other. Faded paint and door dings, unpressed clothes and a slightly threadbare turban.

A younger man – not really young, but close to my own age – stood at the open driver’s door. He shared the older man’s skin color, but had no turban. As I walked up I saw he was tearing off the parking permit portion of the juror summons to lay it on the dashboard.

“Namaste,” I bowed my head to the older man. “Sat sri akaal.”

His eyes widened a bit as he turned to me and returned my bow. “Sat sri akaal.”

The younger man said, “He has jury duty, but he doesn’t speak much English.”

“You can explain that to the Jury Commissioner when you go inside. Just take the main steps and the security people will direct you to the right office.”

The older man stared at us as his friend said his thanks, and then he added his own. “Thank you, boss.” Another bow.

I bowed in return and went inside to my desk.

How odd, I thought, to be summoned by your adopted government to do something unheard of in most of the world: a judge turns a legal case over to you for decision. No training or experience needed.

As the morning wore on I wondered how my friend had fared. Walking into the jury office, I asked them about the elderly man in the turban. They had not seen him. It turned out that the people summoned for jury duty had been sent home, as the lengthy case picking jurors that week had finished the process late the afternoon before.

I was a little disappointed. Seeing him again was tugging at my heart. But he was gone.

Summoned for a Purpose

Abraham received a summons as well. God said to go to a strange land and make it his home. “My father was a wandering Aramean,” the Jews were taught to say about him. (Deuteronomy 26:5.) Jesus wandered too. “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20, Luke 9:58.)

Yet we are promised a home with our Father in heaven, one where we find our rest, where we cease our wandering forever:

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:2-3.)

This too is unheard of: God prepares the place, God brings us into his rest, God does it all for us.

We receive the summons and we arrive. In fact, receiving the summons is arriving.

Enter your Father’s courts. No training or experience needed.


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22 Responses to The Man in the Turban

  1. janehinrichs says:

    Tim, I love this story. Reminds me of the power of story.

  2. Adriana says:

    “ ‘Namaste,’ I bowed my head to the older man. ‘Sat sri akaal.’ ”

    Tim, you are so cool.

    • Tim says:

      My son coached city league basketball a few years ago, and one of the kids had a grandfather who taught me a little about his faith. Sat sri akaal, he said, roughly translates to “God is true.” I told him that’s wonderful, because I worship the one true God.

      God really is true.

  3. Jeannie says:

    The way you honoured that man is a beautiful demonstration of grace. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Tim says:

      Thank you, Jeannie. God is gracious, and I can only point to him in giving me the ability to reach out to that man last week.

      • Yes, I love how you weave your own thought processes to experiences with your reflections of the Bible. You share beautifully and inspire me to think “poetically” too. Thank you.

  4. Aimee Byrd says:

    Enter His courts with praise!
    And on a lighter note, I was a total LOST nerd, and cannot hear the word Namaste without thinking of the Dharma Initiative.

    • Tim says:

      I hear Namaste and immediately think of that scene in Bend it Like Beckham where the main character meets the older woman on the street and there’s a ton of bowing going on.

      Pop culture nerds unite!

    • Adriana says:

      HA! That’s what I thought of too, Aimee! 😀 I vegged on LOST via Netflix during one of my pregnancies.

  5. monax says:

    Tim, I appreciate the stories you share with us.

    Chesterton remarked: ”I had always felt life first as a story: and if there is a story there is a story-teller.”

    We are all—red and yellow, black and white—born of the flesh into the unfolding drama of history. And as God, Himself, is the God of history—history is, ultimately, the story of God.

    History is His Story.

    It may be interesting to note how our English word “gospel” comes from the old Anglo Saxon word godspell, meaning, literally: God’s Story.

    Elie Wiesel said: “God made man because he loves stories.”

    Made in God’s image we are much like him in the appreciation of stories.

    Stories are what shape us and make the world go `round.

    Personally, I’m convinced that stories are the foundational building-blocks of reality. Through them we make sense of (and structure) the world. It’s how we come to know and make ourselves known. And there—in the space of its articulation—is where we find not only ourselves, but each other.

    Frederick Buechner in his memoir writes, “My assumption is that the story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all.”

    The place we find ourselves is always in the other—that is where the purpose and meaning of our existence lies—with others.

    What’s your story? Who are you?

    Ultimately, it is God’s Story that answers and awakens the deepest sense of who we are. And it is in the person of Jesus—who gave His life away—this is where we all meet and connect with the reality of God and others.

    In Him we discover that the mystery of who we are has most everything to do with whose we are. It makes sense—after embracing the truth of the gospel that we are not our own. . . that we were never meant to be alone.

    The gospel as a summons: The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come. You who are thirsty come drink of the water of life—it is free and will satisfy the deepest thirsts of your being!”

    The gospel in a sentence: “Jesus Saves!”

    [note the judicial sense of our English word sentence]

    “It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16).

    As I understand reality itself to be a narrative construct—so are our identities and desires. The expressions of who we are and what we thirst for take the inherent shape of story. And we could go on and on about this and the power of story, But hear this: The story of our Christian lives is the death of us—we find our blessed lives as we give it all away.

    My story is a daily dying so that the power of God may rest upon me as I give my life away.

    My life is not my story, but it is. The truth is I am held captive by a Story-teller who created me a character in His unfolding story of redemption and ultimate reality. As I am born of the Spirit, I now must die to the flesh. At first I was reluctant to die. But now I know this is the best and most blessed way—as the Story-teller directs a cruciform shape to my life.

    And he takes me places and introduces me to others I would never have known on my own.


    • Tim says:

      Those are great quotes and Scripture passages, Monax. I see my life in Christ not as dying, but as living. Christ has already died for me, and now the life I live is Christ in me, which is more life than I could ever hope for on my own!

      • monax says:

        Yes, Tim. It’s both. Paradoxically, in the dying we find our living. I was just rattling on about the cruciform life. (( made the above comment my writing exercise for the day =] ))

        “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).


        “Then Jesus said to his disciples ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it’” (Matt 16:24-25).

  6. What a grand and true testimony led and delivered back to Our Saviour! I love when these “God moments” happen!

  7. Pingback: Summoned to Court | Emotionallyrich's Blog

  8. Hi Tim, This story reminded me of my near-experience in court, so I wrote about it
    and mentioned your blog. My point of view is probably quite naive, but I hope you find it to be an interesting story anyway. May God continue to bless you at work and give you many more opportunities to bless others as you did this man! Maureen

  9. cmtartist says:

    How do I love this? Let me count the ways….

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