Personal Protection


Dallin H. Oaks
(Adapted from an October 1992 general conference address. See Ensign, November 1992, pages 37–40.)
They that are wise … have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide (D&C 45:57).

One night in Chicago, my wife, June, and I were taking a sister home from a ward meeting. I parked outside the apartment house and accompanied the sister into the lobby and to her door. June remained in the car and locked all the doors. I left the key in the ignition in case she needed to drive away. We lived on the south side of Chicago and were accustomed to taking such precautions.

Before returning outside, I looked carefully in each direction. I saw three young men walking by, so I waited until they were out of sight, and then I walked quickly toward our car.

As I paused for June to unlock the car door, I saw one of the young men running back toward me. Fortunately June saw him coming around the end of the car with a gun in his hand and didn’t unlock the door.

The young man pushed the gun against my stomach and said, “Give me your money.” I took out my wallet and showed him it was empty.

“Give me your car keys,” he demanded. “They are in the car,” I told him. “Tell her to open the car,” he replied. When I refused, he was furious. He jabbed me in the stomach with his gun and said, “Do it, or I’ll kill you.” Again I refused. He repeated his demands, again emphasizing them with his gun.

Not knowing what else to do, June waited and prayed. Then a peaceful feeling came over her, and she felt that everything would be all right.

From behind the robber, a city bus approached. The young man became distracted, and his gun wavered from my stomach. I realized that with a quick motion I could seize the gun without the likelihood of being shot.

But just then the Spirit let me know what would happen if I grabbed that gun: We’d struggle, and I would turn the gun into the young man’s chest. It would fire, and he would die. I also understood that I must not have the blood of that young man on my conscience for the rest of my life.

I relaxed and, following an impulse, put my right hand on his shoulder. “Look,” I said. “What you’re doing just isn’t right. You could get killed or sent to jail for this.”

The young robber went through his demands for the third time, but this time his voice was subdued. When I refused again, he hesitated for a moment, then ran away. June unlocked the door, and we drove off, uttering a prayer of thanks.

I am grateful that the Lord gave me the vision and strength that night to refrain from trusting in the arm of flesh and to put my trust instead in the protecting care of our Heavenly Father.

[illustration] Illustrated by Robert T. Barrett