Have you ever gone on a God Hunt? A God Hunt begins when you teach yourself to look for God’s hand at work in the every day occurrences of your life. Here’s one of my personal God Hunt Sightings:
Our 50th wedding anniversary was celebrated in the Union Hall in the middle of the city of Chicago, where David and I planted a church some 44 years ago in 1967. Back then we were a bunch of young adults, concerned about the state of our society, who believed we could discover ways in which the Gospel of Christ would become the answer to all those ills.
For the ten years that David served as senior pastor, we were framed by the crucial dialogue of idealist young adults who considered the impact of Scripture in relationship to the feminist conversation in secular culture, to the angry demonstrations in the streets and on campuses against the war in Vietnam, to the systemic causes of poverty, and to the civil-rights movement as it turned from a peaceful resistance protest birthed by revival in the black American church to a secular militant insurrection.
This 50th Anniversary/Reunion celebration was wondrous. We met in the Teamster’s Union Hall (Local 705)—which these days was a little shabby around the edges and 44 years ago had been fresh with new paint and a recent renovation. In both cases, however, we were given the hall to use, rent-free, if we would just pay the janitor’s fee. Being in that hall again was evocative and brought forth memories of a time when creativity was uninhibited by tradition, when we were all young and idealistic, when we sang and danced and worshiped together in meaningful and free ways, when because of our dialogue of faith we grew spiritually by leaps and bounds and dared to believe that through the power of the Gospel, the church could be relevant and could make meaningful progress in curing some of society’s ills.
Much to our surprise, some 200 people gathered from all parts of the country—the faces in the a cappella choir were actually the same faces we used to look out on 40 years before—the vaulted, della robia-plastered ceiling reverberated with four-part harmony and we remembered again the days when we had dared to dream. We couldn’t believe that we were seeing people we hadn’t seen in decades, or that we were able to hear about what they had done in the intervening years with the dream we had once shared.
What was missing were the black Americans who had worked with us to create an open church committed to overcoming the racial divides that separates much of society with hatred and prejudice and stereotypical thinking. Once we had been a church with an interracial congregation and staff, but toward the end of David’s tenure as senior pastor, there had been a collapse in our dialogue complicated by confusion in our understanding of one another, and the blacks had separated themselves from the rest of the congregation and that dream died.
We were like the play Camelot, which had been mounted during our Circle Church years and was scooped up by the Kennedy administration, to describe the magic and idealism and beauty of youth that dares to commit itself to a utopian ideal—in our case, one that was driven by what we saw described in the New Testament as the Kingdom of God—and like utopian idealists throughout time, the world over, in our youthful fervor we had not accounted for our own frailties, the fault lines that run through each individual character or through the social systems created by people hoping to make a difference.
How do we respond at the reminder that, as the words from the song say, “Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot”?
I have learned to hold these temporary perfect places to my heart and thank God that I lived to be part of them—no matter how brief. They are promises of Eden restored, of a world where harmony and justice rule, where there is no more systemic poverty or rapaciousness, the utopian dream at last come true—Paradise again on earth.
And for one brief shining moment, an earthly Camelot reigned, and it turned my heart and mind and soul to what will one day be again. And I was present. I was there.
Award-winning author Karen Mains has long had an interest in spiritual formation and the obedient Christian walk. She has written about the God Hunt in her book by the same name, The God Hunt: The Delightful Chase and the Wonder of Being Found. A hardback copy can be ordered from Mainstay Ministries for $10.00 plus $4.95 shipping and handling. Contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be happy to autograph a copy for you.
Karen continues to write content for her Christian blog, “Thoughts-by-Karen-Mains.” In so doing, she desires to touch the lives of Christian women and men and help them find ways to walk closer with the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, through silent retreats, spiritual teaching, women’s retreats, Christian vacation opportunities, and other ministry activities, Karen helps each Christian woman and man receive vital spiritual food.
Through her Hungry Souls ministry, Karen serves as a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men, and teaches a mentor-writing class. And, through the Global Bag Project, she is working to develop a network of African women who sew exquisite cloth reusable shopping bags, Africa bags. This micro-finance women opportunity helps provide a much-needed sustainable income for struggling African families. For more information on this critically important project, please click here.
For decades, Karen and her husband, David, have served God through religious communications—radio, television, and print publication. They are the co-authors of the Kingdom Tales Trilogy: Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration. To find many valuable resources for pastors and congregations at the Mainstay Ministries main website, please click here.
Likewise, pastors will find special resources to help them prepare effective, life-transforming Sunday sermons by visiting David Mains’ website by clicking here.