Around seven in the evening, the doorbell rang.
I grabbed a butcher knife from a kitchen drawer and hurried to the front door. Someone rang the doorbell a second time. I slid the knife behind my back, took a deep breath and reached for the knob, my hand shaking.
I’d been married a whole month and had just moved with my new husband from a very populated city in Southern California to a house surrounded by cornfields in Indiana. That meant no car noises. No streetlights. No neighbors barbecuing across a zero-lot line.
It was terrifying.
And to make matters worse, I was often home alone until 11 PM while my husband took classes at a university in the next town.
On those nights, I spent hours frozen in fear that someone was going to break into the house and kill me. Why? I don’t know—because corn fields make lousy murder witnesses? I’m not saying it was a rational fear. I’m just saying I was crazy afraid.
One night I found myself wondering what the murderer would do with my body. Where would he hide it? When my eyes landed on oven, I actually walked across the kitchen, opened the oven door, and peered inside to see if I would fit.
I ordered several cannisters of Mace and took to wearing one in a little leather holster that snapped onto the belt loop of my jeans. But I was still afraid.
Then came the night I answered the door with the butcher knife behind my back. I hid behind the door as I cracked it open and peered onto the porch, butcher knife at the ready. Standing menacingly on my front porch were…
…two girl scouts selling cookies. I was so embarrassed, I bought twelve boxes of Thin Mints.
It was the final straw. I couldn’t live in fear like this anymore. I came up with a plan.
A few mornings later my husband was getting ready to walk out the door. Knowing he wouldn’t be home again until very late, he asked, “Are you going to be okay?”
“I sure am!” I said confidently.
“What’s different about tonight?”
“I have a secret weapon.”
“What is it?”
“I’ll tell you tonight if it works.”
He shook his head (undoubtedly wondering how I’d found a black market Uzi dealer in our tiny town).
But I really did have a secret weapon. And I spent the afternoon boobytrapping my entire house with that weapon, hoping it had the power to keep my intruder at bay. It was at least worth a try.
I staged my secret weapon everywhere I knew I would be throughout the night, starting with the kitchen.
Sure enough, before long I found myself washing up a few dishes. In front of my eyes, on an index card taped to the window above the sink, were these words: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1.”
I read the words aloud, over and over.
After dinner I carried a basket of clothes to the laundry room where I was greeted by another card taped to the lid of the washing machine: “My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—from violent people you save me. 2 Samuel 22:3.”
When I went to turn on some music, these words were waiting for me: “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3.”
And while I sat on the couch and folded warm clothes from the dryer, the index card leaned against an end table lamp reminded me to “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deut. 31:6.”
Every time I came across a card I read the words aloud many times. Before long, I was turning them into songs and singing happily around the house.
At 11:00 I heard the garage door being raised. A moment later, my husband opened the door to the house with some caution and peered around the corner. But he needn’t have worried. I was relaxing on the couch, reading a book, not a single butcher knife in sight.
My enemy, fear, had been slain. Not by mace, not by cutlery, but by the power of the Word of God.