Monday, November 2, 2009

Behind The Mask

I love Halloween. I think because it's such a fun time for the children. I love the excitement in the eyes of the children when they talk about who they're going "to be" for Halloween.

I loved spending trick or treating time with my grandchildren.

This year, I was keenly aware of how blessed I was to be able to enjoy this holiday with them. I was literally drawn into the magic with them.

Watching my children get their children ready for trick or treating.

Laughing as baby Cooper kept tearing his hat off while Eric and Katy quickly tried to get a picture.

Watching them go out in their costumes and collect their candy. And then look in their little halloween bags and take a quick inventory each time they received a new piece. I found myself taking in every moment and treasuring it, wishing it could last all night.

When the night was over and the children were asleep, their little bellys full of candy, I thought about the magic of Halloween. What is it that makes it so fun?Why do children (and adults for that matter) love to dress up and become someone different than themselves. The older kids especially love the costumes with masks, because they can hide behind them and not be recognized for who they really are.

I told the children of our church a story about a little boy who discovered, while trick or treating, that his neighbors didn't recognize him behind his mask. So he thought he would cause some trouble. He kicked to pieces their pumpkins and knocked over their lawn chairs. He continued to do lots of bad things that night because behind his halloween mask, he was safe. Then he remembered the words of his parents about how God made us, loves us and will always recognize us. Even though his neighbors didn't recognize him, God knew who he was.

Sometimes that's how it is with us. No, we don't kick over decorations and openly commit acts of disobedience but we often put on one face for others when, "behind the mask" we are not the same person at all. We do and say things that are just as displeasing to God as the acts of this little boy. A co-worker gets a promotion and we act happy for them, when "behind the mask" (in our hearts) we are jealous. We go to church on Sunday, pleased with ourselves, and on Monday we are yelling at the driver in front of us who cuts us off in traffic. We put money in the offering plate for others to see and then ignore the homeless person on the corner. We open the bible on Sunday morning and then read novels and watch movies during the week that we wouldn't watch in the presence of God. We are patient with our friends and quick to find fault in our spouses.

But God sees behind the mask we wear. "The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1Samuel 16:7) He sees who we really are. He also sees who we can be. If we allow Him to search us "behind the mask" and are open to His molding and changing us, He will make it so no longer have to hide. "Search me, O God, know my heart and test me. "(Psalms 139:23).

Halloween is over for another year. The make-up faces are washed clean. The candy is rationed out so there will be no upset tummys. The little trick or treaters are fast asleep. But this Halloween has been unlike all others for me. For God has planted a yearning in my heart, to allow Him to search me and test me so that when He looks at my life, I don't have to hide "behind the mask."