© 2017 Bill Murphy
I wrote of death in March of last year… DEATH AT AN EARLY AGE. It focused on the death of others.
Few of us, with the possible exception of combat military personnel, law enforcement, and firemen to name a few, ever face death up close and personal – then to have him turn and walk away. I have, and it was a sobering experience.
I can’t remember the year, but Carol and I were on a weekend a trip to Birmingham to visit my sister and her family. Just east of Meridian, we stopped at the visitor’s center near the state line. It was around 9 or 10 in the morning, a bright and beautiful day. Numerous cars were in the parking lot as we parked and went inside. An elderly gentleman stood in the hallway outside the restrooms, no doubt waiting for his wife. NOT. He was the lookout. I walked past him and into the restroom.
It all happened in a flash. Out of nowhere, a rough hand grabbed my shirt collar, shoving me roughly against a sink. Something hard and cold was pressed against the back of my neck. A gun? It could have been a wooden dowel for all I knew, but his words convinced me not to take a chance on gun or wood.
“Quick,” he shouted, “gimmie your wallet, and your keys. Don’t turn around.” he said harshly, “and make it quick – or I’ll kill you, dude, ya hear?” He repeated this threat of death 3 times within the short space of time the attack was underway. I complied.
What was I thinking you ask? Amazingly, it was NOT fear. Nor was it anger. Actually, what I felt was SURPRISE. I distinct remember thinking, So this is the way my life ends?
Then he yanked me backwards, and shoved me into one of the stalls. “Stay here,” he shouted again, “Stay for 5 minutes. Peek outside, and I’ll kill you dude!” And then there was silence. I think I waited only a minute, maybe less. Then I walked outside where Carol stood.
She will tell you that I can be easily rattled. But not that day. She said she could not believe how calm I was! “I just got mugged,” I told her. And relayed the whole story.
We quickly found the security guard, who’d seen nothing. The sheriff was called, who helped us get back into our locked vehicle. Carol’s purse was inside, so we still had keys. We drove a few mile up and down the highway, thinking we’d find my wallet the thieves had tossed out the window, but we didn’t. They got maybe $20 in cash, and no more. We immediately called and cancelled the credit cards.
This was an amazing learning experience for me. I was brought face to face with death, and yet, just as God promised in His word…
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
During the whole episode, I was NOT acting and thinking like Bill Murphy normally acts and thinks. The harsh and threatening words of the thief didn’t bring dread and fear – instead, they were miraculously overshadowed by peace and calmness!
There were not two in that bathroom that day, but THREE. Although I entered empty handed, God brought me His rod and staff!