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:
After participated in some 250 listening groups, most of which I have facilitated, I am absolutely convinced that it is time to write a book about the profound experience this has been in my life (and in the lives of the many who have also participated in the small-group process). However, I simply could not get the project started.
I have plenty to say, have a bibliography, have conducted interviews with many of the participants, have written white papers to send to those who are also intrigued by either learning more or starting listening groups, but I simply have not been able to capture that intriguing approach that draws the reader into the first chapter and through the pages, chapter by chapter, until the last words draw conclude so satisfactorily that the reader closes the book and puts it aside with a sigh, wishing there was just a little more.
I’ve had friends chide me that I’m not writing any books and publishing them—but I tell you—until those first sentences come as a gift, something wonderful that you the writer yourself would like to read—it’s a little like pushing a shovel into dry clay. The creative earth is just not ready no matter how many attempts you make to force the steel into the compacted cement-like soil.
Last week I took a handful of paperback books with me to read on the airplane and in the airports in the literal hours that it takes to travel from Illinois to California, then back again. One book by Brother David Steindl-Rast, A Listening Heart: The Spirituality of Sacred Sensuousness, had just bogged me down. I’d loved other works by this Catholic writer, but somehow, just did not get into the reading groove with this one. Perhaps that was because Steindl-Rast is a monk and makes a point of addressing the rational for the monastic experience to other monks in this book.
But determined not to leave half-read books lying around, I took it along with me as I traveled and found (surprisingly) that I was loving what I was reading. This must fit into some sort of principle: Give every dull book a second chance. It may not be the book’s fault. Listen to this:
“Once our heart is anchored in silence, we will be able to listen even while we are speaking. … Silence will make us hear appeals which noise drowns out: the sighs of devastated forests, the groans of lab monkeys with wired skulls, the sobs of mothers with babies at their emaciated breasts. We will begin to hear the truth that sets us free. As long as one creature in this world is oppressed and exploited, oppressor and victim alike lack freedom. Yet, ‘None so deaf as one who will not listen,’ as the proverb says.”
Somewhere in my re-reading of this book, I noted down the phrase listen with your fingertips, indicating a total absorption in the process of hearing something or someone, in which the whole body leans forward in rapt attention in order to fully hear.
Several mornings I realized that could be a wonderful title for a book on listening: I tried it out, Listen With Your Fingertips. It would also make a great opening paragraph and a first chapter.
And so in this way, from what seems like nowhere, the gift is given, “Some people feel like we listen with our ears; others insist that we listen even with our fingertips.” In a week, after months of struggle to begin a book, my creative self is aimed and pointed. I am ready to go.
But that is the point of Steindl-Rast’s writing: All the world around us is gift-given. It is we who must learn to listen.
It is we who must learn to see. “Look at the stars! Look, look up at the skies! O look…!” declares Gerard Manley Hopkins breathlessly in his poem The Starlit Night.
It is we who must make a practice of being alive in the world. “Most people’s glorious gates of perception creak on rusty hinges. How much of the splendor of life is wasted on us because we plod along half-blind, half-deaf, with all our senses throttled, and numbed by habituation. How much joy is lost on us. How many surprises we miss. It is as if Easter eggs had been hidden under every bush and we were too lazy to look for them.”
It is we who must hear the whisper of the title in our hearts and realize that at last, it is time to start.
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.