Monday, October 31, 2011

Nathan Dale and Bottle Rockets

It is Halloween morning and I’m sitting in Panera Bread having a cup of Joe and a bagel – Cinnamon Crunch bagel to be exact. It tastes good but I’ve allowed it to cool down from the toasting it received about 10 minutes earlier.
In all the preparations for the holiday (of which I have really done zero this year) I am reminded of one particular Halloween when my old buddy, Nathan, stopped by the house. I think his intention was only to stop by and say hi but as good of a friend as he is and him knowing how much joy he brings to our family when he comes in the door, he graced us with his presence for a few hours.
The highlight of our time with him that Halloween was the time we spent handing out candy. Now, for those of you who know which Nathan I’m talking about, you know that when this guy comes into a room you best be ready for the party to begin. The joy of the Lord is on this guy like very few people I know. I’m serious when I say that his smile immediately disarms the tensest moment. His laughter is contagious. His attitude is something I aspire to have in my own life.
Anyway … on this particular night, kids were in our neighborhood in droves. Amanda and I believed that we had gotten enough candy to make it through the night. I believe that Nathan recognized rather quickly that we were kidding ourselves. He had grown up in the “Hidden Valley.” It’s where everyone in the county came to do their Trick or Treating.
Nathan took decisive action. He went home – which was at the end of our street – and returned with the Fourth of July’s leftover Bottle Rockets! It was awesome! The excitement that must have surged through the Valley was evident by the amount of kids who rushed our house. Once they knew we were giving away fireworks – explosives – we were the target house. We ended up having more fun handing out those Bottle Rockets to kids and their Dads than we would have ever had if we had simply handed out candy. It was awesome!
Now we’re in 2011. Angus is two and Sophia is 3 ½ . We went to a friend’s birthday party the other night with the whole family dressed as the characters from the show, “Yo Gabba Gabba!” At church, we’ve been hearing about the spiritual world: angels and demons and the reality of fighting the spiritual battle against powers and principalities (Ephesians 6:12). When I was younger, I was drawn to the darkness. I remember one teacher, while I was in high school, who actually asked me if I was a devil worshipper! How far off track can somebody be? Me! Not her.
I still enjoy Halloween but not for the reasons that I used to enjoy it. I have no problem dressing up (or down) and have no problem with allowing my own kids to go Trick or Treating. But I agree with Pastor Bobby … I can’t allow myself to submit to or become enamored by the darkness (again). It really is too dangerous. It’s toxic. But …
God is bigger than the darkness. I simply don’t need to give it any sort of foothold. I am assured that God not only has my back but my life in his hands. “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love” (Romans 8:38).

“Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.” – Colossians 2:8