What a shock to learn that my sweet, soft-spoken friend had been a guard at a women's prison. The job was rough, the demands stringent, and the circumstances often mirrored a nightmare. But armed with her gun, a sense of security must have eased her tension.

Her instructions were to shoot, no reservations, no hesitation...just fire should she see any inmate display even a slight attempt to escape.

She learned how. She was trained. She had practiced. But when the time came to do it...she froze. That's when reality struck; she lacked the guts to pull that trigger. Her days as a prison guard came to an end.

And now, as a Christian, she teaches another self-defense method. She carries in her heart a better, more powerful weapon to guard against all evil--physical or spiritual. She holds on to Christ, and clings to His power great enough to stop the thieves who threaten to rob the peace and security.

And we can too, here are three steps to protect ourselves:

* We learn to use caution. We're careful to recognize fear and refuse to let it in.
* We do not open the door to doubt, worry or anxiety.
* We keep the ammunition of God's promises close by.

And certain of God's divine protection, we also declare: "I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice." (Psalm 16:7-10).

The protection is in His hands, the reassurance is in our heart.

What steals your peace these days? What weapons will you use in defense?

Janet P. Eckles