Trick or Treat
Mike clutched a big paper bag and yanked at his rubber mask. Then he squinted through the slits.
“I found it,” Molly murmured. She pushed the button and the doorbell dingled.
Then the door was flung wide open.
“Trick or treat!” shouted Mike.
“Trick or treat!” echoed Molly.
“Mother,” called the friendly man with a twinkle in his eyes, “Come see. There’s a funny wrinkled little man at our door hiding under a huge mask. His coat is miles too big and so is his nose. And you should see the little old lady. Her hat is floppy and…”
“Ask them in,” a woman’s voice called.
Mike moved toward the fireplace twisting the top of his paper bag. Molly’s high heels clomped behind him.
“Now,” smiled the friendly man. “What was that you both shouted when I opened the door? Trick or treat, did you say?”
“It’s Halloween, you know,” Molly piped up. “If you don’t treat us, we’ll trick you!”
“So far, everybody has given us a treat,” added Mike. He peeked into the bag. “We’ve got cookies and candy and gum. Our bag is half full of good things.”
“Course,” said Molly, “if anybody hasn’t got a treat, we’ll trick ’em.” She pulled out a bar of soap from her pocket. “It’s fun to smear soap on windows, but awful hard to get it off.”
“Wax is harder,” said Mike. “I’ve got a piece of a candle.”
“You’d really trick us, would you?” asked the man. “If we can’t produce a treat, you’ll play a trick on us ?”
Mike and Molly nodded.
“Don’t tease them,” the lady said. She turned to the visitors. “Mr. Merry was just going to make some popcorn. Take off your masks. The popcorn will soon be ready.”
Mr. Merry poured yellow corn kernels into the popper and shook it over the coals in the fireplace. Pretty soon it sounded like fifty firecrackers on the fourth of July.
Molly and Mike munched buttered popcorn while Mr. Merry talked to them.
“You threatened to trick us if we didn’t treat you,” he said. “But I know someone who will trick YOU!”
Mike laughed and so did Molly. THEY were the ones who were doing the tricking tonight. That is, they would if they didn’t get treated. “Who would trick them?” Mike asked.
Mr. Merry wasn’t smiling when he answered. “The devil will trick you if you don’t watch out. That’s his business, to trick people. You see, he makes sin and wrong things SEEM like fun. ‘Cheat in school,’ he whispers. ‘That’s an easy way to get good grades. Steal money from your mother’s purse,’ he says. ‘She’ll never know. If she guesses, just lie to her. It’s an easy way to get some money.”
Mr. Merry filled Mike’s bowl with popcorn for the third time.
“Of course we have all sinned,” he said. “The Bible tells us ‘ALL HAVE SINNED, AND COME SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD.’ The devil tells folks they aren’t so bad. ‘ln fact,’ says he, ‘you live a good life. Just keep on like you are and you’ll get to heaven.’ But it’s a trick. The Bible says, ‘THERE IS NONE THAT DOETH GOOD, NO, NOT ONE.”’
Mike looked at Molly. He was thinking of the little red racer he had sneaked at the dimestore. Molly looked at Mike. She was thinking of the time she broke a plate and told her mother Mike had done it.
“THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH.” Mr. Merry was reading from his Bible, “BUT THE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.” Romans 6:23. Yep. That’s the way it is. The devil will trick you if you let him, and the wages he pays are pretty awful. Death. Separation from God for ever and ever.”
“Hurry and tell them about God’s treat,” Mrs. Merry said.
“It’s a wonderful treat, too,” said Mr. Merry. “We don’t deserve it. But God loved you and me and everyone so much, He sent His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to be our Savior. Jesus never sinned. But He died for you. He took the punishment YOU deserve.” Mr. Merry looked first at Mike, then at Molly. “Yes, sir. Jesus died for you. But you have to believe it. ‘THE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.’ That’s the treat God offers: if you believe with all your heart that Jesus died for YOU, you will live for ever and ever with God in heaven.”
Mike stared at the flickering flames that leaped and licked at the log in the fireplace. “Right this minute,” said Mike, “I believe that Jesus died for ME.”
“Me, too” said Molly. “I don’t want the devil’s trick. I’ll take God’s treat.”
Dorothy Grunbock Johnston
If you want God’s treat, write YOUR name in the blanks right now:
FOR GOD SO LOVED
THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THAT
BELIEVETH IN HIM (SHE OR HE) SHOULD NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE.