A week before Halloween, I somehow ended up at a haunted corn maze. (maize? haha. Sorry. Couldn't resist)
Let me preface with, I don't do scary. Halloween time or not, I just don't do scary. Hate scary movies. Hate fear. Hate that feeling that lingers after a scary movie and taps you on the shoulder hours later when you're climbing your porch stairs in the dark. I hate horror and weird and foreign and other-worldly. Not my thing. And it's not even so much a spiritual conviction, though there is that a little, as much as it is a personal preference/personality thing. Not who I am.
So for me to end up at this haunted corn maze was quite the ordeal and a step out of the box for me. I went with a bunch of friends from my ministry group (we were chaperoning a youth group of teenagers from a local church - and if you disagree with a church taking teens to something "scary", that's totally fine, but that's not the point of this post ::wink::)
This is a pretty awesome place in a nearby town here in Louisiana, featuring two haunted "mazes" in corn fields (they're not really mazes because you can't get lost, they're more like cut paths through a huge corn field) and a real, legit, non-haunted corn maze that you really can wander around in for hours, along with a bunch of concessions, games for kids, bounce houses, duck races, paintball shooting, etc. Good times!
So there we were. We all formed a line to go into the first scary "maze", which is really just a bunch of people in costume jumping out of the corn at you in the dark. It's more hilarious than scary, but the adrenaline and anticipation is pretty legit. There's signs everywhere reminding you that the actors can't touch you, so please don't touch them (they have these signs for people like my friend who throat-punched a monster once at one of these things and almost got arrested. bahahah) It's all fun and games and lighthearted. A safe thrill, if you will. (sorry for the rhyme).
The first maze was hysterical, because I was already worked up and was double fisting the back of our leader's hoodie. I had one guy friend in my ear making spooky giggles, another teasing me "hey watch out. hey WATCH OUT" every two feet and getting in my head.
Someone stepped out of the corn in a Scream mask, and I nearly knocked over our 6 foot tall leader trying to get to his other side. I could feel the presence of the actor behind me, but I figured it had moved on to leer at people behind me. I tried to shake it off.
Then I heard someone say "Hey Betsy, look behind you."
Uh, no thanks. I kept my eyes straight ahead, my fists bunched up in my friend's hoodie, and kept walking. Despite my spine tingling and my hair standing on end and that eerie sensation that told me YES something terrible is right behind you - I didn't look. I kept walking. Congratulating myself on my bravery and focus and self discipline on not totally losing it.
Then a stalk of corn brushed against my ankle and I lost it.
Like, charged-ahead-full-steam-and-climbed-up-the-back-of-the-near-stranger-in-front-of-me-for-dear-life lost it. I made grown adults run screaming away from ME because I was the one scaring the mess out of THEM, because they didn't know what had freaked me out so badly. They just assumed they needed to get away too.
Once in line for the second maze, I was more prepared, and less on edge. I had experience now, I was an expert. I got this. Monsters coming out of corn? Psshh. No biggie. Bring it on. I had conquered. I was DA WOMAN.
Until I realized this maze had clowns.
Sorry, I just fainted a little at the memory.
Did I mention I don't do clowns?
I mean, like, I have run red lights in my car to get away from clowns. I have screamed in a clown's face (as an adult!) and taken off running down a strip mall plaza IN PUBLIC to get away from a clown.
I don't do clowns.
So when I'm standing in line to go in this next maze, and see a clown with the horror mask from the movie "It" (yeah - don't watch it!) draped over the fence, staring at the crowd in line, I almost lost it again, and wasn't even in the maze yet. Talk about my worst nightmare. I almost sat it out. But everyone teased and encouraged me to go for it. (and I didn't want to stay outside by myself with clowns nearby!) So I gather my wits just in time to see two of the guys from our group coming back from TALKING TO THE CLOWN and laughing.
Of course they wouldn't tell me what was said. So for the next twenty minutes, I had one mission in life.
As in, stay away from clowns.
And a little more difficult than it sounds.
This maze wasn't just a corn maze but consisted of crudely constructed rooms/shacks, in which you have to duck under and between fabric and strips of materials, with strobe lights going off in your face, crazy scenes set up on all sides, climbing over bridges and uphill terrain. In the DARK. With clowns randomly approaching you along with other various horror creatures.
Sorry, I just fainted again.
I made it through, though I probably owed my leader a new hoodie now, and emerged on a dirt path that led up hill to The End. Redemption was in sight. The finish line. We had almost made it.
There was a clown on the side of the path between me and the finish line.
I mustered everything I had, placed myself on the far side of my group leader, get a new grip on the hoodie, and make like the Little Engine That Could. I think I can, I think I can...
Until the clown on the path ahead lifted up his mask and called up the trail, "HEY!! BETSY'S COMING."
Sorry, I just fainted again.
That's right. The clown knew my name.
In the back of my mind, before I abandoned the hoodie of protection and took off sprinting, I realized that probably, my two silly friends had told the clown my name at the beginning of the maze when they had been teasing me. None of this really took root, however, as I flew up the path, past the clown, and deep into the night. Screaming.
I survived, clearly, but was told later that night that my friends had not approached the clown on their own to trick me. The clown had actually WAVED THEM OVER and asked who I was.
He sought me out.
If that doesn't just make you wanna curl up in the fetal position.....
Sorry, just fainted again.
All in all, it was a fun night, with a great story to tell and fellowship and a ton of laughter afterward, but as always, God doesn't let me experience much without revealing some sort of lesson in it. And this metaphor for me was so obvious, I had to share it with all of you.
So many times in life, we end up on a scary trail. Sometimes it's one we choose , however unintentionally or intentionally by consequences or results of sin or choices, and other times the path chooses us and we don't have a choice but to walk and see it through. Sometimes on that trail, fear taps us on the shoulder, doubts lurk right behind us, and courage fails. Sometimes on that trail, the fear is so thick and suffocating it's a tangible presence looming, threatening, consuming...
And when those moments come, there is only one thing to do.
We keep our eyes straight ahead, our fists bunched up in our security blanket (Jesus), and we keep walking. Just us and Jesus. Despite our spine tingling and our hair standing on end and that eerie sensation that tells us YES something terrible is right behind you - we don't look. We keep walking. Not in denial of the evil, not in denial of the fear, but rather in resistance to it, resistance to giving the enemy what he wants.
And sometimes, those fears know our name. They see us coming a mile away and are ready for us. The enemy of our souls has that target in his sights and he knows exactly where to aim. So in those cases, we flee. Just like I hauled butt up that path, we are to flee temptation, not cave to it or cower under it. We get the heck out of there and come out the other side, cramping and gasping for air but unscathed. Victorious.
And on those occasions that we can't manage to run, when we are too weak to flee, and we do give in, we remember the sign. The clowns can't touch you. Oh they can scare you. They can get in your face, and hover, and linger, and torment, but they can't touch you. They can't take you away. Because even in your sin, if you're a believer, you belong to Jesus. His hoodie of protection drapes you and covers you and protects you from being consumed. And when you cry out and repent and call His name, He is waiting there to carry you out to safety.
The clowns can't touch you.