Updated: Oct 31
Trick (noun)- a cunning or skillful act or scheme intended to deceive or outwit someone.
(verb)- deceive or outwit someone by being cunning or skillful.
Treat (noun) -an especially unexpected source of joy, delight, or amusement.
(verb)-to pay another's expenses, especially as a compliment or as an expression of friendship.
In light of the fact that Halloween is this week, I’ve been thinking a bit about that very common announcement at our doors, from adorably or frighteningly costumed people, shouting, “Trick or Treat!” Of course, a treat is what we plan to offer (at least I hope so!).
But that doesn’t mean the occasional fun trick isn’t okay. For example, last night at the gathering of our church high school youth, I offered a bag of prizes they could choose from without looking. The prizes were mostly small ones, ranging from silly light up gadgets to the more desirable and rewarding gift card. The worst prize of all, deceivingly larger, was a large box of raisins, reminiscent of my childhood days of receiving those from some people with much disappointment. Obviously, this was sort of a trick gift, and luckily, the one who picked it got a good laugh out of it. But in life, not all tricks or lies are as harmless as a box of raisins on Halloween.
For example, how many times in one day are we thinking of or hearing the tricks or lies that come our way? We could believe the trick or lie that we aren’t good enough, that we don’t measure up. We could believe the trick or lie that someone else isn’t good or worth much. We could believe the trick or lie that tells us to make a wrong choice. We could believe the trick or lie that we or someone else can’t be forgiven or can’t change. I could go on and on with all the tricks and lies because there are plenty of them out there, and if I’m not paying attention, these can take over my thinking in such a way that I don’t see the bigger and more important TREAT of God’s unwavering presence and love.
The TREAT of God’s love, his truth, his power, his forgiveness, his presence, his ability to help us, hear us, see us, guide us is so much stronger than any of the lies.
2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
This means we don’t need to give in to the tricks and lies. We can rely on God when we don’t feel strong, when we don’t know how to get through the next thing coming our way, when we feel tired, unmotivated, afraid.
I know that when I write that, many might still wonder how that’s possible. How do we actually rely on God? I wish I could say there’s a magical and easy method, that all you have to do is say, “I’m relying on God,” and then all the worries and lies magically go away. But honestly, it takes constant effort. I can say I’m trusting God for everything and then minutes later be worrying about something. So the only solution then is to be aware of those wavering thoughts, and when they come, remember a truth from God, whether that's a verse, passage, or story that we’ve heard in his word, and pray for his help.
The book of Hebrews is a great reminder to stay vigilant in what we know about God.
Hebrews 2:1 says, “So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard or we may drift away from it.”
It also reminds us that we can be honest with God, telling him what’s truly on our hearts, the good and the bad. It says in Hebrews 4:15-16, “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
Knowing that God knows my weaknesses and faults reminds me that I have nothing to hide from him. He’s the absolute best friend, confidante and father we could ever ask for. We can pour out our hearts to him and he promises to help us in the way that is truly best. This doesn’t mean it will be the help we think it should be. It will be better. We just need to trust that truth.
One of my favorite ways to remember how much Jesus understands us and loves us is to read the way he interacts with people in the Bible. Recently I read one of my favorites, in John 4, the story of Jesus and the Samaritan Woman. I love how Jesus connects with this woman, going against the cultural expectations of the time of avoiding anyone from Samaria, and then even better, revealing what he knows about her and letting her know that none of that matters. In summary, he tells her all that matters is a relationship with God through him, Jesus. She then runs to the village saying, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” (John 4:28-29) She is so thrilled with this encounter that she can’t help but share it. Being in his presence, she came in touch with the one who truly knew her and truly loved her. What a treat. It’s the same treat we can have every day too, simply by reaching out to him and asking.
So, this week, I plan to enjoy a few treats of candy instead of those tricky raisins, not to say raisins are terrible, but I think you know what I mean here! I plan to pay attention to when I might be wavering in my thinking. When a thought is pulling me away from the truths God wants me to hear, I will pray for his help, remember he is present with me, and speak his truth.
Will you join me in this? I pray we all have a week remembering his love above all else, his treat over any trick.
Try one or all of the following to stay connected to God this week.
Verse to copy and remember:
Begin reading the book of Hebrews, maybe a chapter each day, highlighting and jotting down what catches your attention. Pray for God's help in remembering his word and truth and in staying close to him.
Read John 4. What catches your attention? How does the truth that Jesus completely knows and loves you impact your perspective?
Use this prompt to pray for God’s help with any worry, fear, difficulty you face this week. For a full page of these that you can print and use, click on the link below.