I think that Halloween is my husband’s favorite day of the year. Odd, I know for a pastor. The pc answer should be Easter,right? But honestly, I think he likes Halloween best because there’s not much that brings him as much joy as handing out candy and oohing and ahhing over every single kid’s costume. He looks forward all year to parking his chair by the front door and waiting for kids to come. Even though he’s terrible at figuring out what the costumes are, he greets each kid as if they were THE most amazing, creative, delightful goblin of the night.
Last night he took it to a new level. He carried his rocking chair outside and our firepit along with a jack-o-lantern and a big basket of candy. As I was watching him it struck me how much his posture towards the kids is like God’s towards us, only we usually miss it. How many times do we approach God as if the lights were out and the door locked tight? Like we have to convince Him to care…to show up…to answer us? Instead, the Bible says He stands at the door, He’s the father out watching for His son to show up, He’s the party-giver inviting us to a banquet, He delights in us, sings over us.
One day years ago when I was angry and defeated and God seemed like a mean God I told Him I felt like I was a cat and He kept dangling a mouse in front of me in the form of an answer or a way out of the pain, but then snatching it away repeatedly. Dangle, snatch, dangle, snatch.
At the time I was anguishing over this mean God image it was summer and we were staying with some close friends who live in a lovely home on a lake. Very early one morning I got up and was sitting on the dock praying. The water was still, the sun and the loons barely awake. In my journal I wrote, “I can’t stand it.” Cat and mouse. Dangle, snatch, dangle, snatch.
As I wrote this, God brought to mind a passage of scripture…I remembered something about a father and a stone… It was a clear impression I couldn’t ignore…a passage I hadn’t thought of for years. I looked in my concordance to discover where it was. Matthew 7. It says, “Which of you, if his son asks for bread will give him a stone…If you who are evil know how to give good gifts, how much more will your Father in heaven.”
I thought, “Well, that’s nice. Thanks for that reminder, but it sure still feels like a cruel game you’re playing.” Then I looked up the same passage in the Message paraphrase. Here’s what it said: “This isn’t a cat and mouse game we’re in.” I’m not kidding. Exactly those words. Exactly addressing my feelings. I was floored. I looked around, stunned by this personal, loving response from my “mean God”.
The door isn’t locked. The lights aren’t off. He is an incredibly personal God who delights in His kids who show up.