Yes - we do engage in this holiday, which I know has a bit of controversy in some Christian circles (so please pardon the alleged fling with paganism). If you spent a little time around our kitchen today, though, you'd see three out of our five pumpkins with crosses carved into them (not to mention the little jokes and puzzles tracts next to the candy bowl for kids who come to our door that we can greet with a smile instead of a shut door). So once again we're choosing to redeem something that has gotten rather ghoulish by loving on our neighbors with an open door.
Um, sorry... didn't see that soapbox of mine there.
But I digress, for this post is a bit less about Halloween and more about why it seems cool to my boys to dress up like Batman. For example, this year my five-year old started getting an allowance and learned about what it means to tithe, put some in the bank, and save towards something special (10%/10%/80%). He opted to save up his net pay over two months towards a Batman sword that he saw at Target, filled with all kinds of lights and sounds that will surely keep him and his imagination busy.
Two months, man. Two months.
I know, I know... Batman doesn't really use a sword (except in the movies or the occasional graphic novel set in China). But that's not really the point. So I digress again.
But I totally get his passion because when I was a kid the cool Batman item was the utility belt - coveted by little Batman-wannabes everywhere. Not only was it a snazzy addition to the already hip Batman uniform, but it seemingly contained the very answer to any situation that arose. Whatever might put the caped crusader in jeopardy, one could always count on there being something in his trusty utility belt that would be just right for the job. As the classic Adam West show promises, a simple “Batarang” rope was ready when when a building needed to be climbed as well as a handy-dandy “Batman Vat Opener” was available when the Joker stuck him in a giant vat.
Funny how that two inch yellow waist strap hid and packed in so many things. Perhaps this is why the Batmobile started with a button ignition - no room for car keys in the belt.
Wouldn’t it be great if real life was like that? When you needed something, be it something simple like the right tool for a job to something complex like a cup of hot cocoa that popped out just when you needed to get warm, your utility belt could hold it all. If things were that controllable we probably wouldn’t have a need for stores with the word “convenience” before it, guys on corners selling roses to husbands late for dinner, or 24 hour “tech support” lines for people unable to make sense out of their Best Buy laptops. No matter what need came up, we’d have just the right thing to meet it - all at our disposal.
I sometimes wonder if I equate God as being a “utility belt” of sorts. The Bible does say that he came to bring us abundant life, but somehow we translate that as that he will solve all our problems. This is, of course, innacurate because often when we cry out to God for something to solve life and he simply says, "No." Other times he remains silent, wanting us to go back to the last thing he told us (no matter how long ago that was). Even when he occasionally allows us exactly what we've asked for, it's on his terms based on our needs and not because we've "blabbed it and grabbed it."
Yet for some reason he still wants us to ask him through prayer. I'm not clear on why this is, because it seems like a weird balance to live life as though it's dependent on us to ask God for something... while remembering that it absolutely isn't.
Maybe - just maybe - it has less to do with the request and more to do with giving us an excuse to hang out with him when we otherwise wouldn't.
Kind of like Halloween tonight. You know the drill, right? Lots of candy that is sought out after it gets dark out, which ultimately means the kids don't get a whole lot of it before bed. I'm not sure why this is how it all works, but after a fun time of tricking and treating I have to say "not until tomorrow" to my boys with the cute Batman masks.
So whenever we shout out to God for some "candy "and he says no, we must keep this perspective in gear. God may not tell us why, but he will tell us "I'm here." And when we say, "I want more of that," he fires back with, "You're not getting more... you're getting me." Or if we approach life demanding the Red Sea parts for us, too, he reminds us that that was a Moses thing and he doesn't always show up in our lives in the same way he shows up in the lives of others. ("So stop coveting, already.")
Perhaps it's less about God becoming our utility belt and more about us becoming his.
What an incredible thought - that a God of limitless potential desires to use us for something beyond ourselves! I mean, “Holy potential, Batman!” Which is perhaps why there is appeal for a child to dress up like a hero. Not only does he get to go door to door for free candy, but he gets to look like a someone out to make a difference as he does so.
Just nevermind that their mom made them wear a jacket underneath their Batman pajamas because it's chilly out. Those are just, um... "muscles."