Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Halloween thing...

I've pretty much come to the conclusion that blogging is not something that I'm going to do with any sort of regularity. I love to read my daughters' blogs, my nieces' blogs, and other friends' and family blogs. But I don't have whatever it takes--be it time, focus or interest--to sit down every day and turn the events of my life into the blog version of sound bites--crisp, concise, funny and readable.

Once in a while, though, something grabs my attention in a really compelling way. I spend hours, or days, thinking it through, but not writing it down. A discussion yesterday with Blogging Daughter #1 kicked off a thought process that has filled my head so much that I actually have to write it down. This will take awhile, but here goes....

The Halloween thing.... We pulled the plug on Halloween 25 years ago. We had been going to church and really seeking the Lord for about 3 years. I was attending a weekly women's Bible study; we were going to a couple's study on Wednesday nights. I wanted to know God, who He was, what He was like, what He wanted from me. And He is so completely faithful to respond to a searching heart, often in ways that you are totally unprepared for. When you read in your Bible, "Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth..." and you ask Him to do that, He will shake your world.

The elementary school that our daughters were attending did Halloween in a big way. The kids were allowed to wear their costumes to school, they had a big party in each classroom and, in the middle of the morning, there was a school wide parade. Every single classroom, from K-6, walked out of the building and around the big center courtyard. All the parents came and watched the classes march by, oohing and aahing, and snapping pictures. That particular year, I stood and watched those sweet little children walk by and my stomach turned. There were 5 year olds whose faces looked like an open grave. It was sickening. One of the little girls in our younger daughter's class had a mom whose parents had been make-up artists and that child was decked out as a truly disturbing witch. I had been increasingly uneasy about Halloween, but this year, one thought resonated through every cell in my body. "This does not honor the Lord".

So we stopped. I really couldn't articulate well why I felt the way I did. That's all I could say--"This doesn't honor the Lord". And I was very well aware of how offensive that was to people who were still taking part in this holiday. It had only been a few years earlier that I had been huffy and offended at the suggestion that may be I shouldn't be doing this. When we pulled out, a lot of people told me that maybe Halloween had pagan origins, but that was then and this is now and there's candy and your kids don't want to be left out and, really, how ridiculous can you be to take the "ugly" part so seriously. But I knew we were done for good.

I continued to study the Bible and nothing I learned in the following years made me think I had misjudged Halloween. But it wasn't until this year that I heard 3 separate teachings, at 3 different times, from 3 different sources that made it crystal clear to me just exactly WHY Halloween disgusts me so.

Teacher #1 said "Have you ever wondered why God put us here, on this place, on the earth, when he knew good and well that this is where the enemy is? Didn't He know what kind of trouble could come from that?" And I totally agreed! Why here, Lord? Well, the answer to that is that rebellion didn't start in the Garden of Eden. It started in heaven, with Lucifer and a third of the angels being cast down. The battle started before we got here. And we are the army that has been put here to fight the war.

Teacher #2 taught me that we have missed the deeper meaning of Genesis 2:15. "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." I don't know about you, but that has always sounded to me like the man was put there to be the gardener, to pick the roses and eat the fruit and...be there...and do stuff. Nothing earth shaking. But the words in Hebrew are powerful. The word that is translated "work it" is "avodah", which means "service" and "worship". Avodah--to serve God in worship, to worship God in service. The Garden of Eden was the worship center of the universe. And man was put there to worship. The Hebrew word that is translated "take care" is "shomer". Another powerful word. It means "guard". At the end of Chapter 3 when God banishes Adam and Eve from the Garden and the Cherubim with a flashing sword is posted there to "guard" the tree of life, it's the same word. (And the Cherubim are NOT pudgy little baby angels, either. Lucifer was a Cherub. But that's a whole 'nuther story). And God calls Himself the "guardian of Israel". Shomer. Not a small thing. Why would God give the instruction to guard the Garden unless there was something to guard it against? When Satan came to Eve in the Garden of Eden, he was sneaky and deceptive. He spoke to her and persuaded her to act on his words instead of believing God's words. And because she and Adam acted upon the lies of the enemy, they gave him their worship.

I've always thought that darn ole Adam and Eve, if they'd chosen better, could've saved us a lot of trouble. The truth is the matter is that each person's heart is the Garden of Eden. It is our center of worship. We are to worship God by obedient actions and guard our hearts. Everything we think, say or do either gives worship to God, or it doesn't. And if our worship doesn't go to God, guess who is getting it.

Teacher #3 also talked about worship. The whole point of our existance is worship. Everything the enemy throws at us is to for the purpose of getting our worship. The hard stuff that makes us abandon our faith, the gray areas that make us compromise, those niggling little thoughts of "Did God really say..." The only thing that makes the enemy feel like God is the worship of man. And he doesn't mind getting it through lies and deception.

Which brings me back to Halloween. It is the conviction of my heart that a holiday where we have to ignore the fact that it is celebrated by Satanists and Wiccans is not a holiday that gives worship to God. Even if there is candy.

There are several problems in putting it out there so bluntly. One is that we are not living in a time where we can actually say that some things are wrong. We tend to define "truth" in terms of "true for me". It's not very acceptable to say that someone's beliefs can be very sincere and still just be wrong. And the other thing is that we have not been very successful in raising a standard without condemning those who are not there yet. And that kind of judgment doesn't soften people's hearts. But I know that even when I got huffy and offended, the seed of truth was still planted in my heart by someone being willing to say, "Halloween is yucky". And I ended up being convicted by the power of God.

So I'm willing to say that Halloween is wrong. Not because I think so, because it doesn't matter one iota what I think. It's wrong because it doesn't line up with the word of God. It doesn't give worship to God. I don't condemn anyone who is still there. But I pray that the Lord will bring His light into that darkness, just as He did for me.


steph said...

Brilliant post, I appreciate your thoughts so much!

Alli said...

You should blog more just so you can share some more of your wisdom like that. Thank you for this post.