October is the month we think about Autumn in full force. Markets and roadside stands are full of pumpkins, gourds and mums. Apple season is in high gear and the weather begins to cool off. Our calendars may include Fall festivals, trick or treat and Halloween. October 31 is associated with all kinds of things like candy and adorable children in costume.
But there is a darker side of the holiday. Interest rises in ghosts, goblins, witches, hauntings, scary movies and other dark subjects this time of year. How do we know if ghosts are real? Some say they are and others dismiss the idea as pure imagination. There are a few things that God has to say about knowing ghosts. The forces of darkness are well documented in the Bible. God’s people were instructed not to look for direction from anyone calling on spirits or ghosts (Deut. 18:10-11). Saul, Israel’s king wanted to know what a “ghost” or spirit had to say in I Sam. 28 – it didn’t end well for Saul! The disciples thought that Jesus was a ghost when he walked toward them on the water (Matt. 14: 25-27). They were terrified! But Jesus quickly calmed their fears as he spoke peace to their hearts.
That’s the difference…peace. Jesus promised us he would send his Spirit to dwell in us. We can know the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit in our language today) as part of the trinity at one with the God the Father and Jesus the Son. The Holy Spirit in us brings calm and peace, not fear or terror. The song “I know a Ghost” by MercyMe says it so well:
There’s a ghost
There’s a ghost inside of me
Not like those drips in old bed sheets
Saying “trick or treat”
Oh, this ghost is different
Not one that leaves me scared to death
But one that puts my fear to rest.
Much of what we see today in reference to Halloween may be dark, but the ghost we know is different. It is the source of hope and freedom from fear. It lives inside of us…Jesus said so! Because of this different ghost we can step out in faith and share that peace with others. We can do this wherever we are, at school, at work, in the grocery store or greeting trick or treaters! We can tell others how to know a ghost…it is our everyday mission!