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 everyday occurrences of your life. Here’s one of my personal God Hunt Sightings:
One of my sons has been lobbying for the nearby Cascade Drive-in Theatre. “It’s a total family thing. People bring their stadium chairs, kids stretch out on the top of the cars, some have a picnic supper. If the kids get tired, you can put them in the back of the van to sleep. Mom, this isn’t like the drive-ins of the ‘50’s” (meaning, I suppose, an excuse for kids to make-out in the solitude of a car—“the devil’s scheme,” according to preachers in my ecclesial context). Before last summer, and before my son’s persuasion, even though the Cascade is only two miles away from our house, I had never graced a drive-in theatre with my presence.
In fact, drive-in theatres have been in decline. In the late 1950’s, at the height of the drive-in boom, Illinois was home to more than 120 outdoor picture shows. Since then there has been a 90% decline, with only 12 remaining open today—one just down the street, stop at the stop sign, turn right at the stop light (past Scooby’s short-order hotdog and hamburger joint)—the entrance is immediately on the right off Rt. 64.
So when the Mains clan decided it should have regular “family fun nights” (so dubbed by one 11-year-old grandson), and when we realized that Bargain Tuesdays only charged $14 per carload (upon request) we made plans to see Madagascar 3, a Disney film about four animal friends wandering the world (plus a double-header including Men in Black 3). This decision was also enhanced by the fact that one teenage granddaughter had included “go to a drive-in theatre” on her summer bucket list.
With the cool summer evening promising to get cooler, I grabbed gardening jackets from the back hall hooks and warm throws from the couches in the house and the beds and loaded down my son’s car. We were eleven strong (counting a friend thrown in). With Bargain Tuesday, the cost of admission to us was three carloads times $14, a total of $42.
What can I say? We had a wonderful evening. This was evidenced by, “Let’s go back again. We can be a little more organized, knowing now what we know. If we go a little earlier, we can pack a picnic supper. We can meet at Nina and Papa’s house and organize ourselves into two cars. We can bring some other friends.”
As I age, I find myself wondering more and more frequently about the things I haven’t done that are handy, nearby, right around the corner for doing. Why haven’t I done this sooner? I wonder. Drive-ins always had a bad reputation for me—but I could have tried Cascade (“Movies Under the Stars!” reads their website. “Open rain or shine!”) at least once. After all, pointed out my daughter, she can spend $50 for just her family to have a movie night at the neighborhood theatre.
Bargain Tuesday was great, but more than that, my family (and isn’t it harder and harder to draw families together these days?) had a banner evening (with the little voice boxes, and the stadium chairs, and Nina’s blankets and jackets and the boxes of candy Uncle Joel got from a nearby cut-cost store). In a way, it was all very 1950’s—the family together, no organized soccer or baseball games to intrude on the schedule, and the inevitable, “That was fun, let’s do it again!”
I quoted a line from the movie to my pastor the next morning as we were brainstorming a preaching schedule for our church. The lion says to the rundown, defeated group of circus animals: “We can do anything we want to if we work together!” Sermon topics according to Madagascar 3. (I also discovered that Eliana, age 4, was quoting a line that runs from the Madagascar series, “We need more power!”, spoken out of the mouth of an animated penguin, I believe. On Easter Sunday, she had bounced around our house shouting this truth from time to time, “We need more power!” Most appropriate, I had thought, for an Easter dinner celebration.
Right now, I am beginning a list of all the things I ask of myself, “Why haven’t I done this before?” I suspect it will become quite long. I also suspect I might find surprising experiences awaiting me in all the things I have never done before. It is also a reality that God is a God who is continually shaking me out of my comfort zones: I wonder if He had anything to do with Bargain Tuesdays at the Cascade, just down the street, around the corner, nearby.
Do the things that are at hand. (We need more power!)
I spy God!
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.