Tuesday, October 27, 2009

No Tricks, Just Treats

I can remember going Trick or Treating when I was a kid with my sister, Robbie.  Even though we grew up in a Christian home, my parents never said anything about us going out for Halloween because, to us kids, it was all about getting free candy.  We would rush through supper, shoving our food into our mouths and washing it down with ice tea so we could get our costumes on and hit the streets.  We’d always pray it wasn’t cold because then Mom would make us wear a coat over our costumes.  We wanted everyone to see how we were dressed. After about an hour or so we’d start to sweat under our masks and yank them off.  

We never worried about going out alone back then.  Maybe the times were different, but we went to as many houses as we possibly could and even left our own neighborhood sometimes.  Every time someone would drop a piece of candy into our bag we’d stick our heads in to see what we got.  Sometimes it was a full size candy bar and sometimes it was only a penny or a small sucker,  but we’d always press on to the next house hoping to hit the jack pot somewhere along the line.  I’m not sure what we were hoping for, but it was just exciting to see what we’d end up with at the end of the night. 
We’d return home with our brown paper bags filled to the brim with candy and we would immediately pour it out on the floor in our room to sort out the good stuff from the bad stuff.  Then we would swap candy with each other, offering up a handful of hard candy for a Hershey Bar with nuts.  The trading would get pretty ugly sometimes, but it was all in good fun. 

I remember one Halloween night, Robbie and I had been out Trick or Treating for quite a while and decided it was time to head home.  When we got there Robbie immediately started to whimper and then she let out a loud cry. 

“What in the world is wrong with you?” I asked.

“My candy is all gone,” said Robbie through tears.  “There’s a big hole in the bottom of my bag.”

It was true.  All that Trick or Treating and she had no candy left.  Apparently her bag got too heavy from all that candy and she started dragging the bag along the street until the bottom ripped open, leaving a trail of candy behind her.  Somewhere in our neighborhood there were some happy kids.  Her loss was their gain.  

I just shrugged my shoulders and went into my room to sort through my bag of candy.  It was terrible what had happened to Robbie, but I didn’t really see how that impacted me in any way.  I could hear Robbie still crying in the living room while I was separating my Bit O’ Honey from my bubblegum.  Suddenly it happened.  My dad opened the door and gave me the bad news. 

“You’re going to have to share your candy with your sister because she lost all of hers,” he announced.  

Robbie sat down on the floor in front of me, choking back tears.  I didn’t look up at my dad.  I just stared at Robbie.  I wanted to grab her around the neck and strangle her for losing all of her candy.  One night a year we got to go out and collect free candy and she had to go and lose hers.  Now I was being forced to share my precious collection. 

“Fine,” I said in a low voice.  

When Dad shut the door and left us to our sharing I made it clear to Robbie that I was going to be the one who decided what she would receive from the bag of candy.  She knew she was in trouble.  I handed her a sucker and a couple of pieces of bubblegum.  Her bottom lip started to tremble.  

“Okay, okay,” I said, not wanting her to cry again.  

I didn’t want Dad to come in and divide up the candy.  He didn’t know the good stuff from the bad stuff so I was sure to end up with the raw end of that deal.  I handed her a little bag of candy corn, but that wasn’t good enough either.  The next thing I knew, we were rolling around on the floor, biting, screaming, pulling hair and otherwise killing each other.  Of course, this brought Dad right back into the room.  He reached down and put all of the candy back in the bag and announced he would divide the candy into two bags for us.  I just shook my head.  Robbie smiled and followed Dad out of the room because she knew it was too dangerous to be left alone with her older sister at a time like that.  I collapsed on my bed feeling like there was no justice in the world.  

As time marched on there were many more incidents that forced me to share my goods with Robbie.  Once she was stung by a bee and threw her strawberry Slurpee up in the air.  Naturally, I had to share mine.  Another time I was forced to let Robbie wear my new plastic bracelet I had just purchased from the gumball machine because nothing came out when Robbie put in her money.  Needless to say, I was forced to learn about sharing at an early age.  

God is also very interested in sharing.  In Isaiah 58:7 it says, “What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families.  Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once.  Your righteousness will pave your way.  The God of glory will secure your passage.”  

It’s so easy for us to get comfortable with our Christianity, believing God saved us just so we could be comfy cozy in our own salvation.  Yet there is so much more to being a Christian than waiting at the bus stop for the heaven bound bus to pick us up and carry us away.  God asks us to share what we have with others.  He wants us to share our time, our resources and our love.  

God has deposited so much into our lives, but instead of sharing what we have with others, often we’ve got our head stuck in our own bags, trying to see what great goodies God has given us.  When we do share, sometimes we keep the good stuff for ourselves and hand over only what we no longer have a need to keep.  I once heard a story about a person who used to send used tea bags to missionaries overseas.  I can just see them straining as much tea as they could possibly get out of the tiny little tea bag and then tucking it away in an envelope, feeling so good about themselves.  

God asks us to give out of the best of what we have, not our leftovers or what we wouldn’t even want for ourselves.  If you don’t believe me, take a look at Matthew 5:40.  “If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, gift wrap your best coat and make a present of it.”  Yeah, your heard it right.  He wants it gift wrapped baby.  

When we lift our bag up to God and ask him to make a deposit, He always gives us His best.  We need to dip down into our filled bag and pull out the good stuff when we’re sharing, without bargaining or expecting something in return.  Make sure you’re only handing out treats, no tricks.       

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