San Diego takes Halloween deathly seriously. One of our neighbors starts decorating his home over two months before Halloween, slowly transforming his yard with massive, homemade themed decorations. Grim reapers abound, as do every size and texture of spider. But they are not what scare me most this year.
This year, my heart is most scared about the ho hum attitude we have towards mass shootings and physical violence done to political adversaries, as if these were par for the course.
This year, my heart is most scared about what we will do to other image-bearers in a week’s time when elections stir up all our inner crazy. I fear that, even as believers in Christ, we will forget to heed the Apostle Paul’s warning, “But if you bit and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another” (Gal. 5:11).
This year, my heart is most scared for the twenty-something generation so desperately screaming, “More life!” that they flock towards crowded streets for experiences that lead only to more death. Emptied and disillusioned as many of them are by the vacuum of truth in which they were raised, their extreme need to chase life and experience to keep up with Insta-images scares me and brings tears to my eyes. I want to shout to them the timeless truths of the Scriptures: “The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply” (Ps. 16:4) and “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love: (Jonah 2:8).
This year, my heart fears our collective ability to see and magnify (in order to cancel) the mistakes and failures of others while being comfortably complacent with our own. We have become experts as assessing splinters and ignoring logs (Matt. 7:3).
This year, my heart is most scared by my own sin. I see my own fear over situations I cannot control (especially as my children become teenagers) and it fills me with more fear. I see my own hunger for man’s approval and it deeply frightens me. I see the amount of selfishness even in my obedience to God, and it causes me to shudder.
What Strengthens Me This Halloween
If I were to leave myself in this massive pool of fears I would be no different than our present news outlets. But, thanks be to God, fears press the believer more deeply into an anchored hope. When fears loom large, our hope can loom larger.
My mind has been meditating upon the Heidelberg Catechism, Question One.
“What is your only comfort in life and in death?”
“That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him.
When the news leaves me dizzy, this comfort holds true. When circumstances seem to spin out of control, this comfort holds true. When political enmity boils over and spills into our streets, this comfort holds true.
I can think of nothing better to offer my soul, the souls of my children, and the souls of the younger generations than the good news of the gospel.