“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
This is the time of year that brings back some special memories for me, memories of fifteen years of the most ambitious outreach I have ever been involved in. For some background on my earlier dilemma with Halloween, the “AHA! moment, and our humble beginnings, see these earlier posts:
Over fifteen years our outreach evolved from a “different” yard display (tombstones displaying Scriptures about resurrection) to a dramatized presentation of the death, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus from Satan’s perspective – “Satan’s Worst Nightmare.” Features included a live band, a large screen displaying song lyrics and scenes from “The Passion of the Christ,” dancers, and special effects such as a strobe light and fog. “Freebees” were added to the candy and tracts – hot cider, hotdogs, popcorn, and most importantly, Bibles.
After we discontinued our outreach, I decided I would at least make use of some of our scenery at our church’s annual “Trunk or Treat.”
In case the concept of “trunk or treat” is unfamiliar to my non-American readers, this is an alternative Halloween festivity for those who have misgivings about “trick or treating” for religious or safety reasons. A group of people gather their vehicles in one location (usually a parking lot) and decorate them – sort of “costumes for cars.” They open their trunks and give out candy to kids who come through. It’s a lot like trick or treating, but instead of going house to house, the kids go car-to-car (or van or truck).
I had never even been to this event at our church, much less had a car in it. I had always been busy directing the final intense rehearsals for “Satan’s Worst Nightmare.” I decided to transform the trunk of my car to show the Empty Tomb, draping the edges of the opening with stone-grey fabric, with “HE IS RISEN!” in sequined letters on a sheet of black cardboard inside. I took the big, round “stone” to lean against one side of the back bumper, and a tombstone declaring “He lives!” for the other.
I dug up one of the angel costumes – a long, white tunic with shimmering silver poncho over the top, silver sash, and a Christmas tinsel “halo.” (To keep warm I wore sweats underneath, so I was quite a chubby angel!) As the kids and parents paraded through, I gave them a jolly greeting of “He is risen!” as I handed out bags of candy and tracts.
One of the tracts was for the adults. It told about historical evidence for the Resurrection, along with an account of how the apostles died, begging the question, If Jesus’ Resurrection was a hoax, why in the world did His followers face excruciating persecution and death without one of them ever breaking down and confessing that it was a lie?
Looking around the parking lot that day, I was a little disappointed to see that most of the hundred or so other cars had secular themes, except for one trunk decorated as “God’s Garden.” This one had a little window just the size of a child’s face and a sign saying “Someone God loves!” A woman in overalls invited the children to peek through the window – into the mirror inside. I went over to express my appreciation of her creativity. She said it was what God had told her to do. I said I had sensed God’s direction for my trunk, too.
What I didn’t tell her was that this day seemed anticlimactic after the intense, directly evangelistic production I had directed for so many years. We had seen so many answered prayers, both providential and what seemed like “miracles,” such as the Bible some Satanists tried to set fire to that wouldn’t burn, or our outreach’s never getting rained out in fifteen years. (There were years it was raining everywhere except the block where we were performing.) I had decided to bloom where I was planted, in this relatively innocuous event. Surprisingly, things did happen later that day that may not have been “miracles,” per se, but nevertheless had Jesus’ name all over them.
The first bit of serendipity was when a woman dressed as an angel came up to my car, pointed a finger at me, and said with prophetic certainty, “The Lord will bless you for this!” I smiled, thinking, True, someday I will know what God is doing right now.
The second touch from God was when they announced the award for the best decorated trunk. (I didn’t even know they did that.) It was a name I didn’t recognize, but the title was “HE IS RISEN!” I was delightfully surprised that someone else had had the same idea, and I looked around to see who it was. Finally I went to the announcer, pointed to my car, and asked timidly if the winner was that car over there, by any chance? Apparently they had got the name wrong, and my car had won! I laughed, picturing Jesus standing there grinning and winking and saying, I was just messin’ with you.
The next little blessing was when I was handed the prize – a gift certificate to the grocery store I went to. Since I didn’t need help with groceries, I asked the Lord who He wanted to have it. He took me back to “God’s Garden” and when I offered the gift certificate to the lady in the overalls, she hugged me and tearfully exclaimed I had no idea what that meant. I learned she had spent her last $3.00 on candy for the kids.
(I also learned the angel lady had told her she’d be blessed for what she was doing, too.)
Happy “All-Hallows Eve,” everyone. Remember, every day is God’s, including October 31.
Prayer: Lord, forgive us for giving the enemy too much credit. We know that You own everything – every day of our lives, every breath we take. Continue to reveal Yourself to us, and open our eyes to Your wonders, great and small, in Jesus’ name. Amen