The flapping arm triggered flashes of “body-in-trunk” scenes I’ve seen in movies and it made me think how life has changed since my Trick-or-Treat days. I can still hear the howls and laughter puncturing the spooky Indian-Summer night air around my childhood neighborhood as all us kids went house-to-house gathering candy in our pillowcase bags.
I can still feel my hoarse throat from screaming through a haunted house at my church’s youth event. My brain holds a library of memories from Halloween jolts and goose bumps, fake ghouls, cold spaghetti brains and peeled grape eyeballs – but I always knew these were manufactured scare tactics so it was easy to shake.
I didn’t venture far from adolescence before I learned that real life was downright scary. Fear took on a whole new meaning as I faced long work hours, short paychecks and relational conflicts. Through one daunting choice after another, I learned why so many people scream, freak out and live paralyzed lives.
But I was in my forties when I discovered that most real-life fear isn’t real. Like a staged haunted house, much of what scares us is manufactured by the enemy of our souls. The Bible teaches that the battleground of our life is in our minds. Trick the mind and you capture the person.
So, if you think the Devil needs a red suit, pitchfork and horns to scare you, think again. His tactics are far more sophisticated than a costume. The Bible says he appears to us an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). His disguises are reason, compassion, humor, friendship, good intentions and benevolence. He becomes your friend, your spouse, your brother. He captures you with his charm, his concern. Long before you know you’re caught, he has control of your life and by the time you figure it out, your life is in such a shambles you don’t know where to begin to recover.
How does one combat such an enemy? By learning his tactics. God’s word, the Holy Bible, teaches us how to choose our friends, how to stay on course, how to know the truth and how to call on God for help. With eyes of faith we can see him behind the smile of a manipulator, we can spot him as he works the crowd with empty promises. By faith we can discern his charade and guard our hearts. With truth we can walk secure and learn to identify the scare tactics of the “father of lies.” (John 8:44)