It was nearly midnight when my fuel gauge hit 'E.' There was nothing around but fields and farmland. I pulled off the highway onto the nearest exit, praying to find a gas station. I hooked a right and cruised down the main street of some old, forgotten township. Within a mile, I lucked out.
I pulled up to the pump and started fueling up. Six gallons in, I heard a noise behind me.
An old, black Tahoe had pulled up right alongside my silver sedan. Through the dark tint of the windows, I could see a young woman in the passenger seat. But that wasn't the source of the noise.
I heard the noise again as a man stepped out of the shadow of the truck. He was a white, twenty-something fellow dressed in a wife-beater and shorts that dropped far below his natural waist. I could tell he was saying something, but I couldn't make out his exact words.
"I beg your pardon?" I (rather formally) said.
"Whatchu got in your wallet?" said the man. This was the third time he had asked, and I could sense a tone of inebriation; whether from alcohol or drugs, I couldn't tell.
"I don't have a wallet," I replied truthfully (I had only two days before swapped out my wallet for a fanny pack).
At this point, it occurred to me that this young man's intention was to mug me. I've always thought I'd be absolutely compliant in such a situation, valuing my life far more than a few Jacksons. But for some reason, I decided not to submit.
"What you payin' for your gas with?" said the stranger.
"Just my credit card - it's all I've got," I stammered.
"Give it to me," he said, as he moved towards me.
His steps toward me should have warranted fear - and they did. I had no clue if this guy had a gun or knife. But I somehow remained obstinate. I told him I was a college student on my way back to school. I explained that I was just trying to get back to class, and my credit card was the only thing I had. I shared that I had been at home on the Outer Banks celebrating my niece's 4th birthday.
I don't know if it was my appeal to his humanity, his doped-up state of mind, or the physical barrier that the gas hose created between he and I, but he backed off. He stared at me for a moment, just steps away from me, then turned and got back in his truck and drove away.
I let out a gasp of breath as my heart pounded away rapidly. I had nearly been mugged. Or had I been mugged? The only real difference was that the guy didn't get away with my wallet.
So, that was my run-in with the mugger. I don't mean to compare my situation to that of folks who have been injured or threatened with a weapon and actually robbed of their possessions. I only hope to illustrate evidence of God's protection over us. I'm convinced that the Lord was watching out for me last Sunday night. And perhaps, in the process, some troubled wrong-doer's heart was changed - I can only hope and pray.