A crisp, spring morning, perfect for a catch-up day with my daughter. First on our agenda, a favorite French café—the smell of warm pastries greeted us as we drove up. A sweet reunion with my first-born, reliving our adventures, and totally oblivious to the deception that awaited us. As we got up to leave, trays in hand, an awkward collision occurred with another patron and his tray. Our best manners sprung into action as we apologized for our lack of attention.

Off to our next stop, an eclectic gift shop. No more than thirty minutes, and we were checking out with our purchases. So strange, my wallet was missing. It must have fallen out of my basket-style purse. I slipped out to the car to check. No wallet. Natalie picked up the tab (that was convenient) and we headed back to the restaurant.

As we drove, I called my husband just in case someone had found the wallet and decided to go on a shopping spree on my tab. My very alert husband immediately called the credit card company and found out that two $300 gift cards had just been purchased at the local Target, one tank of gas, and another trip to Walmart. Whoa, that was quick!

Our minds raced back to that spontaneous tray collision. We were set up! Duped! Two men, sitting at two different tables, conspired to rip us off. Unguarded and unsuspecting, we walked right into their trap. Ugh!

As bitter as kimchi, the lessons learned made my experience palatable:

From a worldly perspective, I realize I gave them a reason to target me—my basket-style purse made me easy prey. They knew the minute I walked through the door that I was their next victim. That pretty, pink purse now sits on my closet shelf, unused, but nonetheless a sober reminder of my vulnerability.

From a spiritual perspective, I realize that the enemy of my soul schemes and strategizes daily to rip me off. Crafty, sly and patient, he waits for the opportune moment when my guard is down, my mind distracted, and my heart unprotected.

But I will not surrender without a fight. Memorizing Scripture keeps me armored and alert. God’s Word on my mind and on my lips fortifies my soul with knowledge and discernment. His half-truths and deceptions will be countered with truth.

I hear Paul’s words and take them to heart: “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:10-12

Do you have a story to share? Or a comment?

9 comments to Pickpocketed

  • Amy Calvetti

    Ephesians 6: 10-20 is the first large group of verses I memorized. I was sitting in my chair one Sunday night trying to decide what passage I was going to study the next morning when I got up. All of a sudden the word “shield” popped into my mind. I thought “The armor of God would be a good group of verses to study this week”. The next morning I studied verses 10 & 11. I started practicing them that morning as I got ready for work. Little did I know Satan was going to attack later that day. It was a big wake up call and gave me all the more desire to memorize all ten verses.

    It has been a year since I memorized that passage and I still have it written on my heart. I have a 2″ action figure next to my chair. It is a girl dressed in a warrior outfit with a helmet, boots, shield and sword that is a visual reminder for me to always have my armor in place.

    Thanks for sharing this story with us Janet.

    • Hi Amy, I love the action figure idea. We all need reminders that an enemy lurks in the shadows. God gave us armor so we can be ready.

  • Ephesians 6:10-20 is the passage I am working through right now! I sustained a brain injury during surgery for thyroid cancer 4 years ago, which makes reading and concentrating difficult at times. Sometimes I can only “work” for 5-6 minutes before the headaches, blurred vision, loss of balance (and more) begin. I used to be able to read and study for hours. . .as bad as the physical symptoms can be, the mental assault is so much worse. Horrid thoughts rushing through my brain.
    BUT GOD. . .one of my favorite phrases in the Bible! I have been memorizing Scripture for years, and the Holy Spirit is faithful to bring it back to mind at the moment I need His words of truth! And as broken as my brain is right now, I can still memorize. I have been working through John 13-14 and some other major “chunks” — and I am more committed than ever to the necessity of hiding God’s Word in my heart.
    Thank you, Janet, for encouraging women to memorize Scripture.

    • Oh Beverly, thank you for sharing your story with us. You’ve been through a lot BUT GOD is sustaining you day by day through his Word. Scripture is incredibly powerful because it is living and working all the time. It is the very words of God and will see us through whatever is on our plate. thank you so much. Press on dear sister!

  • Chérie

    My first reaction to your robbery Janet, was fiery hot anger. The thought of those thugs spying on you while you were thoroughly enjoying yourself with your daughter had me completely hopped up on catnip and ready to smack someone.

    After I calmed down,…(took awhile…I’m Irish & Norweigan-dangerous combo), The Lord brought to mind the word “thief”. Granted, earlier I had squalled out (to nobody in particular) “I HATE STUPID THIEVES!” Then the thought of how the thief on the cross next to Jesus was such a representation of me and how I am JUST THE SAME without my faith (BY HIS GRACE!) in His finished work. 

    I had a similar situation happen in my late 20’s. I had my purse open and sitting behind the counter at the church/preschool where I was working. A man that looked about 60-65 (ish) came in posing as a “window washer”… I thanked him and told him we didnt need any work done, and I headed out to a staff meeting in the building across. FOR SOME BIZARRE REASON, I looked back through the office window—just in time to see the man leaning his entire body over the counter and grabbing something. I saw a flash of red as he took off running and I knew it was my wallet. I chased after him across a busy street and cornered him behind a building. The School Director had followed behind me, and the man knew he was cornered, so he threw my wallet at me. (Whew) 
    I learned from that experience to never have a wallet in a flashy color and to zip up my purse! 
    The illustration of both stories has a powerful punch. Whether we are minding our own business DOING OUR JOB, or having a FUN TIME WITH FAMILY OR FRIENDS, the enemy is prowling. Memorizing is the zipper on our purse FOR SURE. 

    • Cherie, Somehow I can see you chasing that man down the street. I’m surprised you didn’t beat him with your purse. Well, we definitely have an enemy prowling but let’s not give him a reason to choose us like I did. That day I actually woke up to my naiveté and I’ve been more cautious in all situations. A great physical and spiritual lesson.

  • Ethan

    Another aspect to the story – when I called the credit card company and was told they had purchased two Target gift cards minutes ago, I immediately drove to Target and talked with the head of security. In less than 1 minute the gift cards they had just purchased were worthless. Victory!!! Something about that just made me feel good. (See big smile on my face.) Just imagine the look on their face when they tried to used them and were rejected. Or, the look on a family members face (who had received the gift card for their birthday) when they tried to use them. Ethan (Janet’s husband)

  • Chérie

    Yay! Right on Ethan! Excellent move. That just made my day. They don’t have the money, but Janet still can use the story in her speaking engagements. Its such a phenomenal illustration regarding scripture memorization. Woo Hoo. Janet, that pink basket purse is a fantastic prop now. I am willing to bet it will inspire some people to memorize by having such a great visual aid. A pink basket purse. Who knew!

    • I used to love that pink purse but it turned out to be an invitation to rob me, so it sits in my closet. I can’t give it away and put that on someone else.