How I Overcame Fear After Being Held at Gunpoint
It was November of 1998 about two weeks before Thanksgiving. I was in college and was working at a music store giving piano lessons. It was about 6:00 at night and I had to give a 6:30 piano lesson.
The music store was in a mini strip mall. There was an ice cream shop, a nail salon, and the music store. There were people on the street going to and from the stores, families were getting ice cream, and life was pretty close to normal on this cold November night.
Before going to the music store, I had gone shopping for a pair of exercise/yoga pants. I was wearing a pair of jeans that were entirely too tight for me. You may be asking, “What does a pair of yoga pants and tight jeans have to do with being held at gunpoint?”
The yoga pants saved my life that day.
I had thirty minutes before I had to give my lesson and sat in the front seat of my car in my tight jeans. I was uncomfortable, I looked ridiculous, and I had about two hours of teaching ahead of me. I heard a voice in my spirit say, “Change your pants.” To this day, I can still hear that voice. “Change your pants”.
At the time, I thought it was just my inner voice convincing me to change out of my uncomfortable jeans. However, it became clear that it was the voice of The Lord preparing me for what was about to come.
Lesson 1: The Lord may speak things in your spirit that on the surface seem ridiculous.
But the thing is, you can’t see the entire picture. God can. And He speaks things to you to prepare you for your future. Psalm 32:8 says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”
Sometimes, His guidance along the pathway of life looks nothing like what we would imagine. But He is watching over us and He can see the whole book, not just a small chapter.
The Lord was certainly watching over me and speaking to me that night, but I wrestled with His instruction.
“Change my pants? I can’t wear yoga pants to work. It is my first day. How can I show up with yoga pants? I can’t change in the car.” . . . CHANGE YOUR PANTS! . . . The voice wouldn’t stop. I tried to distract myself but I couldn’t. I tried to put on music, but the voice was louder. “Change your pants.”
Lesson 2: You can’t ignore the call of God for your life.
When The Lord calls you to something, He calls you to it. You can run away from that voice, like Jonah, but you will always find your way back to the call of God if you are surrendered to His will. I tried to rationalize away this silly thought of changing my pants. But the voice of God doesn’t surrender to us. I finally surrendered to Him.
I changed my pants.
I reclined the drivers' seat all the way back. I put a coat over my lap, (it was pitch black outside, no one could see me anyway . . . so I thought) and peeled the tight jeans off of my legs. Yes, peeled them off. They were so ridiculous. What was I thinking?
As I was putting on the comfy yoga pants, I made eye contact with a man on the sidewalk. It was the kind of eye contact that hits your spirit with, “Hurry up and get out of here.” He was very tall, big, and was wearing a long black leather coat, black jeans, and a hat. I quickly put the seat up, grabbed my purse, and finished getting the loose yoga pants on.
There was a tap on the driver side window. It was the man who I made eye contact with a minute before. I rolled down the window about an inch and a half.
“Where is Jerusalem Avenue?”, he asked. I looked away from him and pointed over my right shoulder. “It is two lights back.”, I said.
When I turned around to face him again, he had a gun pointed through my window, at my temple, and in a low voice he said, “Now, move over.”
Lesson 3: No amount of “Oprah-self-help-what-to-do-in-a-dangerous-situation” type shows will help you when you are faced with said dangerous situation.
The only help for a situation where you have no hope of surviving is Jesus Christ. Period.
I remember watching an Oprah show back in the day (when her jeans were way to tight!) and they were doing an episode on “being carjacked” and the five steps you should take if faced with that situation.
Folks, when you have a gun at your temple, you are not thinking about Oprah. Let me just tell you that. You are thinking about Jesus . . . at least I was.
The only thought that went through my mind as this man was breathing through my window with a gun at my head was, “Greater is HE that is in me . . . Greater is HE that is in me . . . GREATER IS HE THAT IS IN ME!” (1 John 4:4).
I opened the door with as much force as I could and pushed this huge man out of my way. He tried to push me back in the car. And so, the power struggle began. I was screaming the name of Jesus over and over again at the top of my lungs. I slipped on the ground and fell into the man.
His gun was pushing on my chest.
Screaming JESUS HELP ME at the top of my lungs, and repeating “Greater is HE that is in me . . .“ I gave one final push and the man stumbled back. I ran into the music store screaming that someone just tried to kidnap me, carjack me, shoot me, rape me . . . who knows what he wanted. All I know is I got away.
As I was pushing the man off of me, I distinctly remember three men standing outside of the ice cream shop watching me. No one helped me. They stood and watched. I screamed and screamed. They watched.
Lesson 4: Not every one will run to your aid when you are in trouble. Unfortunately, most people will just stand by and watch.
Whether your life is threatened, your health is threatened, your marriage is falling apart, your kids are in jail, you are going bankrupt . . . whatever it is . . . most people will just stand and watch. Very few, if any, will come to your aid. In my case, no one came.
Now before you start feeling bad for me, or feeling sorry for your own situation . . . we are in good company.
No one came to the cross when Jesus was hanging to His death, either.
His mother, His best friend, and a few ladies were the only ones there. Where were the multitudes He healed? Where was the blind man, the deaf man, the woman with the issue of blood, the couple at the wedding in Cana, Lazarus? In His darkest hour, no one came . . . except for His Father.
Your Heavenly Father is there in your darkest hour just as He was when I fought my attacker . . . just as He was when His son was dying. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. He is right beside you fighting the battle and winning it for you. (Hebrews 13:5)
I ran into the music store as my attacker ran down a neighborhood street. The Police were called. The men at the ice cream shop were questioned . . . they said they didn’t see anything.
My attacker was never found.
The days following, I had to do numerous police reports, a line-up, an artists sketch, and numerous other activities to try and find the man who attacked me.
Lesson 5: Sometimes, you just have to let go of what should be and let God take care of what is.
I wanted to hire a lawyer. I wanted to fight. I wanted the police to spend every waking minute finding this person. But, I had to let go of the past and move forward into the future.
By holding onto the idea of putting this evil man behind bars, he was actually keeping me bound.
I had to let it go.
In the months that followed, I was bound in fear. I didn’t sleep. I had to have someone beside me at all times, twenty four hours a day, morning, noon, and night. I always felt like someone was watching me, following me, waiting to attack.
When I would come home from school, I would sit in my car and wait for hours until I felt it was safe to run into my apartment. I would go into a store and watch my car for at least thirty minutes before I left the store to make sure no one was around.
I was paralyzed by fear.
About a year after the attack, living in fear every single day, I thought about this man and I said to myself, “He is running around free and I am running around bound. The tables should be reversed.” The Bible says in Romans 12:19, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” In 1 Chronicles 16:22 God says, “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.”
I had to stop thinking about this attacker and start understanding that vengeance was in the hands of God and that God would deal with this man for doing me harm.
I had to start living FEARLESS.
Slowly, I began to crucify fear. I began to understand that perhaps God allowed this situation to happen to me to maybe help others. To perhaps show me that I was the anointed of God, I could hear HIs voice, and He was always with me - a lesson I would need to learn when my life was almost taken a few years later.
Lesson 6: Attacks are not a way of life . . . they are a lesson in your life.
Whatever attack you are going through, remember, it did to come to stay . . . it came to pass. If you are feeling attacked in a certain area of your life, know that God will work it out for good. This test will become a testimony you can use to help another.
The attacks I went through . . . the attacks you are going through . . . are not a permanent way of life. Don’t live in the fear that they will be.
Who better to help another sister through divorce than one who has gone through? Who better to help a brother out of drug addiction than one who has overcome? Who better to guide a way out of financial ruin than one who survived financial ruin? Who better to help and alcoholic than one who has defeated the demons and allowed God to become the fountain of Living Water?
I began to see this situation as a tool to springboard me into God’s will for my life instead of keep me hostage in fear. I searched the Scriptures and found His Word led me out of fear.
I worshipped my way out of fear.
I sang my way out of fear.
I testified my way out of fear.
I quoted Scriptures to lead me out of fear.
And I gave all the glory to God that on that day in November, He made me change my pants.
If I were wearing the ridiculously tight jeans, there would be no way I could maneuver around the attacker.
I had to hear His voice, listen to His voice, and obey His voice and He led me out of the danger.
If I were pressed to give you a three step method to overcoming fear in your life it would be . . .
1. HEAR HIS VOICE. Search His word. Discover what God says about fear.
2. LISTEN TO HIS VOICE. Hearing is the first step. Actually recognizing and listening to His voice comes next. Listen and understand that what God says in His word regarding fear is FOR YOU! It is for you to live full of faith instead of fear
3. OBEY HIS VOICE. What good is hearing and listening to the voice of God if you don’t obey what He says. If His Word says, “Fear not for I am with you.” (Isaiah 43:5) then obey The Word and fear not knowing that Your Father is always with you.
Reliving this testimony was very difficult to do. The scars have healed, but they are still there. I hope that in sharing this testimony, you are able to find your way out of fear. You are able to see your worth and see that God has not given you a spirit of fear but one of power! (1 Timothy 1:7)
I want to end this post by saying, if you find yourself in a dangerous situation and need help, please ask for help. See a counselor or a psychologist, a pastor or a police officer. Search the Scriptures and pray, but also use the gifts God has given to others to help you through.