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:
Last week the Chicago area had its first seasonal snowfall. This may be an absolute record in the annals of our particular geographic weather history. The reports on how much snow were variable—some said we had 3-4 inches; some said we had six to eight. After the snowplow cleared our circle driveway at 5:30 a.m. on Friday morning, I shoveled our seven-foot brick-walk that leads from the front door to the gravel drive. According to estimates made from thrusting my red snow shovel into a mound off by the front walk, we had from six to eight inches of snow for the first fall.
The weather here in the greater Chicago area has been, to use the parlance, unseasonably warm. Last year we had a snowfall mid-November, and more and more snowfalls until at least two feet of snow was piled upon itself. The snowplow cleared our driveway seven times last year, and the snow did not melt until April. Two days before our first snowfall, January 12, 2012, the thermometers read 47 degrees in the western suburbs.
So we began preparing ourselves as we Midwesterners are programmed to do with storm warnings. Is there enough provision in the house in case we can’t get to the store for a couple of days? Do we have the fold-up portable shovel in the back of the trunk? Have we made sure our house (driveway really) is on the snow-plowers’ list?
I had a funny phone call: “Paul,” I said to the man who owns the snowplow service up our lane, “the weather has been so good, I neglected to call you and ask you to put us on your list.” “Now, who are you?” he asked. “I’ve just had a hip operation. I’m in the hospital. They replaced my hip.” Nevertheless, he had arranged for a surrogate driver to cover the driveways in our little loop and somehow he did—groggy as he was—get our name on the list. Snowplowing is a serious commitment.
David and I had invited friends to go to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert on the 12th of January, and we made reservations for dinner at the Russian Tea Time restaurant before the eight o’clock performance. This restaurant is just around the corner from Orchestra Hall; on concert nights, it usually empties like clockwork at 7:45. First snow or not, this is an occasion hardy Chicagoans do not cancel simply because weather warnings are being broadcast on radio and on television.
Our only question was: Should we take the Metra into the city, or risk it and drive during the first snowfall, at rush hour? My call was to take the train. David, however, loves that when we drive, we can park in the underground parking, which shoots us up a stairway right in front of the Orchestra Hall doors. Driving means we also don’t have to get to and from the train station, some eight blocks away; nor do we have to wait an hour or so for the next-to-the last commuter train to the western suburbs.
So drive we did, and in driving, we noticed the snowplows already blowing mounds of snow beside driveways and sidewalks. Cautiously, our friend steered his four-wheel-drive SUV through back streets and by ways to quickly hook up to a major artery going into the city. Hm-m-m-m. The streets weren’t so bad—we’re all hardy Midwesterners, you know. Most of us know how to drive cautiously in new-fallen snow. And many workers, at news of snowfall, had left their offices early. The expressways moved fast and we actually arrived at the underground parking with plenty of spots to choose from, close to the Jackson Street exit, and right on the minute to honor our dinner reservation.
Br-r-r-r-r-r. Of course, the temperature had dropped below 20 degrees. We bundled ourselves up against the wet, soft, white snow falling in our hair, laughed about all the little kids out on the streets with their Christmas-gift sleds, noticed a darling young mother shoveling her walk and towing a little toddler stuffed in a snowsuit on a sled behind her. We had a wonderful dinner, shared stories, laughed at our own foibles. The Chicago Symphony sound was lush and wondrous and reached, as usual, parts of the soul in the listener it is hard to explain to people who don’t understand or love classical music.
“First snow,” we said to the volunteers who held the doors for us as we entered and exited the Hall. “Yep!” they said. “We knew it would eventually get here.”
“First snow,” I said to the homeless woman selling Streetwise, the paper they publish that helps to support their needs. “Yes,” she replied. “First snow. Have a good night.”
Instead of turning left out of the parking garage, we turned right, intending to cruise down Michigan Avenue and catch a glimpse of the Christmas lights still in the trees shining through the blanket that now covered the cement flower troughs the city has built in the middle of the Avenue. Snow piled on the bridge spanning the Chicago River, on the ledges of buildings, and spread itself all over the ground.
“Oh,” we all exclaimed. “Isn’t it beautiful?”
Yes, it is. Despite the discomforts. Despite the blowing cold. Despite the hazards of slippery, unexpected falls or of car crashes, it is beautiful. Indeed, it is.
Though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be white as snow. I remembered this Scripture from Isaiah 1:18. But even biblically illiterate people see what I see. Ugly holes are covered by the first snow. Bare branches and breaks in the cement are hidden. The world is wound together in a bundling of white.
Though we hasten to home and safety (and to those provisions of food), every single one of us is in a kind of celebratory mood. Everyone sees that the ugliness around is covered, not to be noticed for as long as the snow stays on the ground, on the fences, on the paths in the wintered forests. There is a common metaphor here that reaches into the heart even of the unbeliever, the cynical, the twisted pervert, or the neglectful, inward-obsessed narcissist.
The world is white again. God has breathed His breath to cover us. First snow!
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.