I was invited to present a seminar on Internet Safety at the Memorial Parkway Church of Christ in Huntsville, Alabama. My good friend and former co-worker, Reed Swindle is one of the preacher's there. I left Glasgow immediately following Sunday worship service and arrived in Huntsville, Alabama at 3:30 p.m. Since the building doors were unlocked upon arrival, I entered and went to Reed's office. I sat and talked with Reed for approximately 5 minutes when a wide-eyed man suddenly appeared in Reed's doorway.
The guy who appeared in the doorway had on a hooded sweat jacket, a cap, and a bandana covering his face like in the old Western movies. He pointed a gun at both of us and demanded all our money! Reed and I both laughed at him at first. I thought it was one of the kids in his youth group and he thought I had brought someone with me who was playing a joke. As he pointed the gun at our heads, it eventually dawned on both of us that this wasn't a joke, and that he was serious.
We gave him all the money we had and as he kept the gun trained on us, he said as he was about to leave, "I'm sorry I have to do this." At that point, I didn't know whether he was sorry for having robbed us, or if he was telling us he was sorry for what he was about to do. Fortunately, it was the former.
The young man then fled the building, and Reed called the police. Fifteen minutes later I had to begin presenting four lessons on Internet Safety. Actually, I don't remember much of what I said. I probably owe the good brethren at Memorial Park a do-over — but good luck getting me back down there ... Ha! (By way of side note, when the detective asked me what kind of pistol the man had, I said, "Pistol? From what I could see, it looked more like a bazooka!)
It is amazing how many thoughts flash through your mind while an event like this happens to you. I can't begin to share all of them with you, but I'll share a couple of thoughts that occurred to me immediately following this incident.
I was reminded of how quickly and unexpectedly life can be taken from you. I can certainly tell you that when I woke up Sunday morning, I didn't think I'd have someone pointing a gun at me before the day was over, but I did. It caused me to reflect on how many people awaken every morning, having no idea that this day will be their last day on earth. Some day we will all awaken to our last sunrise. Will we be prepared when the day arrives?
Also, moments after this man ran from the building, I recalled the words written by the Bible commentator, Matthew Henry. On one occasion in his life, he was robbed. That very evening, he recorded the following words in his journal as he gave thanks to God. "I thank Thee first because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth because it was I who was robbed, and not I who robbed." As bad as things may be, there are plenty of reasons to give thanks if one chooses to do so.
How do you know what will happen tomorrow? For your life is like the morning fog — it's here a little while, then it's gone. (James 4:14 NLT)