by Terri Gillespie
Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for in You my soul takes refuge. In the shadow of Your wings I take refuge, until destruction passes by. Psalm 57:2 TLV
It was after the second time I felt the tapping on my shoulder that I turned around. Behind me was a young man holding a gun.
This month marks five years since my friend Cathy and I were held up at gunpoint at a New Jersey mall. After all these years, I still unpack lessons and revelations that keep me in awe of that holy moment.
Cathy and I were traveling back from our writing retreat at the Jersey shore. We decided to make an impromptu stop in Vineland, NJ for some lunch and a little shopping at the mall. My vehicle was loaded with bags and computers from the week-long retreat. Our clothes hung from the backseat car rack like a curtain over the door.
Since we were running late, I wanted to call my husband to let him know we were on our way home. I opened the back-passenger door to place my purse on top of a suitcase, then leaned over to search for my cell. Something tapped me on my back, but I thought that it was the clothes hangers. As I searched for the phone, I felt the tapping again. I straightened and turned and there was the young man with a gun.
He motioned toward my purse. I reached for my wallet, then remembered a scene from the movie War Room. I faced him and said, “Jesus loves you. He wouldn’t want you to do this.”
I heard Cathy asking me if I had found my phone—she was oblivious to what was going on because of the wall of hanging clothes! She later said she only heard bits and pieces of my side of the conversation and thought I was ministering to a beggar.
I pulled all the cash from my wallet—$12.00—and handed it to him. I apologized that it wasn’t more. He rolled his eyes and demanded my car keys. I whispered, “You’re taking my car? You’re leaving us stranded?”
He pointed the gun toward Cathy and said he would kill her.
I pleaded, “No, please. She just got over cancer. She almost died.” I handed him the keys. At this point, he looked briefly at me, then lowered his eyes.
Miraculously, he returned the keys! He paused as though not sure what to do next. I thanked him and patted him on the shoulder and repeated one last time, “Jesus loves you.” He walked away.
Once he walked away, my whole body began to shake. Cathy asked if I was okay, but I couldn’t speak. I thought the kid would change his mind and come back blazing, so I wanted to get out of there fast.
Finally, I was able to tell Cathy what happened. We prayed the whole way home. We thanked the Lord for His protection. We prayed that God would touch the young man’s heart and change his life from that moment on.
People have called me brave. I wasn’t brave. I was covered in the shadow of my Heavenly Father’s wings—all three of us were. The moment the young man walked away His wings lifted—the moment gone. At that point, you would call me anything but brave.
I am so grateful that God called me for such a time. Grateful for His protection, and that my friend did not have to see a gun pointed at her. Grateful to be able to go home to our husbands. Grateful for the young man’s mercy.
Every January, I pray for him. My hope is that we will see one another again, in heaven.
“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place—but you and your father’s house will perish. Who knows whether you have attained royal status for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 TLV
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Award-winning author and beloved speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus. She hopes to abide in rest for as long as it takes. http://www.authorterrigillespie.com
Making Eye Contact with God is a women’s devotional that will enable you to really see God in a new and fresh way. Using real life anecdotes, combined with Scripture, author Terri Gillespie reveals God’s heart for women everywhere, as she softly speaks of the ways in which women see Him.
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