Earlier tonight, our family enjoyed the fine tradition of Halloween.
You know the one – kids dressed up in creative costumes, adults handing out candies to scores of children at their door, while spooky music and candlelit pumpkins welcome passers-by in front of homes.
Ah yes, the annual ritual all of us have come to love and embrace as part of our North American way of life.
That is, almost all of us.
Our son Isaac was not too enthused tonight at the prospect of his first trick-or-treating experience.
Sure, things started off promising, as we gathered with some neighbors for a pizza dinner and some pictures of all of the kids in their costumes. However, when the time came to go outside and knock on doors, Isaac would have no part of it.
Nearing two years of age, Isaac was dressed as a cute monkey, with his baby brother Hugh stuffed in a pumpkin costume and wrapped snugly inside my wife’s coat. We thought this would be a real hit for the lad – carrying around a tiny bucket ready to be filled to its brim with chocolate and lollipops. After all, who wouldn’t want to receive plenty of free candy?
To our great surprise, Isaac cried and insisted on sitting in our wagon to be carted around the block instead of walking with Mommy or Daddy and his friends to each house porch and being handed handfuls of tasty treats.
Fortunately, Isaac eventually took the plunge and walked up to a door. And then another. And another.
He loved it.
The amazed reaction of people as he met them at their door, the sight of other children dressed in costumes around him, the sound of Halloween music, the candies dumped into his pumpkin bucket –Isaac soaked it all in. He even got to meet Batman (otherwise known as a neighborhood dad dressed as the superhero).
It got to the point where Isaac was begging us to hurry to the next stop, as compared to us having to seemingly drag him to the first house.
Later, my wife remarked how it was so nice for Isaac to discover something so incredibly enjoyable despite his initial hesitation.
I suppose when it comes to faith, many of us are like Isaac and other children so fearful of their first trick-or-treating endeavors.
How often are we presented with a possibility, but our doubts or insecurities prevent us from taking advantage of the experience?
Whether it is a chance to join a school play, run for student council or try out for the volleyball team, so many students pass on a golden opportunity to grow and discover more about life, others and themselves.
Others in society may be offered a set-up date by a friend, or come across a job opening or trip advertisement and elect to decline, effectively closing the door to the unknown happiness awaiting them.
With such subtle invitations from God to venture out of our personal comfort zone, why are we so afraid? After all, are we not assured by God that He is with us always and will never lead us astray? (Matthew 28:20)
Not only that, our loving God reminds us He has set us up for the complete opposite of failure and sadness. He has destined us for greatness and abundant joy. All we have to do to attain this success is trust in Him and give Him a shot. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
In today’s increasingly secular world, however, placing hope in God and opening ourselves to Him is not altogether easy or fashionable.
Yet, we can rest confident knowing God has blessed us with the Holy Spirit and has equipped us with the necessary armor to combat any messages or outlets that encourage us to run from God’s calling. (Ephesians 6:13-17)
With this in mind and nourished by Jesus’ gospel of truth to strengthen our faith, we can move forward despite our fears and overcome any obstacles facing us.
Only then will we be able to stand firm against any tempting tricks so we can enjoy God’s tremendous treats.