Daddy stood behind the front door, waiting for mama to walk in. Arms full of grocery bags, he would jump out at the right time to give her a fright. We were in on his prank and laughed to see his playfulness and mama’s guaranteed jump for the umpteenth time.
I wasn’t even in school when I had a dream that woke me terrified. I was spending the night at Granny’s, sleeping in her bed, when it woke me. In my dream, the devil was under the bed reaching for my feet. It felt so real.
As Granny’s often are, she was patient, giving ear to my fears as she found the paper from Sunday School and read me a story about Jesus. I don’t remember which Jesus story, but she reassured me of his love and care for me. There was no denial of a real Satan. But we didn’t need to fear him because Jesus was our protector.
We weren’t a family built on fears. Not the kind of fear that paralyzes from dealing with palmetto bugs, dad’s who liked to frighten or difficult people. We weren’t raised to shrink back from opposition or be detoured by obstacles, whether the insect or human kind.
But, there was a time a friend and I had a Ouija board. We were holding the string as the weight on the end moved ever so slightly over the letters on the board. Daddy watched for a moment and decided this wasn’t going to be in our house. He promptly took it out to the garbage explaining his discomfort with this type of play that leaned toward a darker side.
Maybe it was my preschool dream of being snatched by a devil that helped me respect daddy’s decision.
Evil is real but not always recognizable.
I grew up going door-to-door wearing a homemade costume on Halloween. We held out lunch sacks for our treats. We walked with friends through the neighborhood without fear of tainted candy or evil people.
Daddy had halloween parties for the teenagers at church where he told scary stories and passed around peeled grapes for eyeballs and spaghetti noodles for brains.
Halloween was a holiday for the silly and scary, not to be confused with the evil scary or demon scary. For me, there’s a difference.
Somewhere along the way, the church decided the whole thing was bad so we changed the name to Fall Festivals. We still dressed up and got candy (which is all we ever wanted) but we wouldn’t use the world’s word. That’s the way The Church handles a lot of things.
If this year is like the past 8, we’ll have close to 200 kids come to our door dressed like princesses, super heroes, bumblebees and football players. They will hold out plastic pumpkins and pillowcases and get a little choosy about what we throw in their treat bags.
We will have a Fall Festival for the kids at church.
There is real evil in this world. I believe in Satan as described in the bible. A fallen angel who seeks to have us fall for him. His ways are subtle and often, comfortable.
Our real struggle isn’t against scary characters or days called Halloween but against comfort of our own desires. Our struggle is with impure motives and selfish ways.
“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 spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 NIV
And just as surely as our struggle is against the unseen things, we are reassured that Jesus, the Christ, our Savior, has overcome the world!
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NLT