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:
“Yes, we’re going to be decadent,” I explained to a younger friend. “We are going to watch a movie tomorrow morning, and you and your wife are invited for breakfast and to join us.”
“Why decadent?” he asked.
“Well, we’re all going to sit there, watch the movie and think guiltily about not being at work.”
So we initiated a movie-watching morning with these friends (all involved in ministry where evenings and afternoons and before work meetings) Our pastor recommended the film Lars and the Real Girl, which I had seen but David had not, but it was our first movie-morning choice. I didn’t realize what an incredible film this was until I observed it with others—something about that group process—it was funny and quaint and poignant and deeply meaningful, but mostly it was movingly humane. Our lively discussion afterwards brought to light intriguing aspects I had not even considered. I’ve been thinking about Lars and the Real Girl ever since.
Having arranged our schedules after the holidays, having headed into the new year with organizational resolves settled, David and I hosted the next movie morning. I picked one of my favorites from the 2011 movie panoply,Winter’s Bone, which I thought was an amazing plunge into the meth culture in the Missouri backwaters. It was given an Academy Award nod, but because it was a little-promoted indie film, not many people have seen it. Another friend, whose husband is a theologian, helped me detect that a theme (maybe intended, but probably not) of common revelation ran through the entire piece.
Our pastor and his wife love film, as do we. David and I feel we can’t have a significant dialogue with members of this sight-and-sound culture unless we can discuss the current language people are using. Ask the question, “See any good movies lately?” and you are immediately invited into conversation with most people. Our intent is to view films that have moral meaning and to hone our critical talents for observation and discussion purposes.
So, after my weekend bout with influenza, I checked the supplies Tuesday evening and discovered I had everything I needed for breakfast for our movie group (now expanded by the two we invited at the last minute). Without a store run, I could make apple pancakes, fried eggs and bacon. The dining-room table is always set for six.
We had a lovely morning. I had help at the grill; laughter and great exchange sparked our time around the breakfast table. Then down to the basement, where four of us viewed the movie for the first time. We were all overwhelmed by the tale, the 17-year-old heroine Ree Dolly, who one reviewer called the most remarkable heroine in contemporary American literature, and by the aesthetic qualities of the movie. It has a 95% critical-approval rating online at Rotten Tomatoes.
Our conversation, personally evocative and far-ranging, ended only because David (the recovering workaholic) reminded us that we needed to get on with the day.
“I see what you mean by decadent…” said my friend. I had meant “decadent” in that we were not at work. Yet we were working, we decided, working to find the meaning behind the obvious, watching through film as a teenager called her subculture to the moral values they all held in common and had lost as they degenerated beneath the persuasions and imprisonments of a methadone-driven economy. Ree Dolly has a father who has jumped bail, has put the inherited house and land she lives in with her two dependant siblings and her psychologically disturbed mother up for surety. She has a week to find him or this fragile family will lose everything, inevitably becoming homeless.
We take care of our own, don’t we? Ree asks, persistently. Don’t ask for what should be given. We’re blood kin and that counts for something, don’t it?
Common moral codes and general revelation. Something built into each heart by the God who marks each human with his image. A divine certainty built into the heart of 17-year-old Ree Dolly. During this second viewing I was amazed at the power of spoken truth.
As the black-and-white film panned the craggy features of the characters (many local folk and not actors), I felt an unaccountable mercy and compassion for those caught in the downward spiral of lostness wherever it occurs. This certainly must be how God feels about us all.
All the music in the film—at least what I noticed—were gospel songs. Truth is hidden in the moral meaning of our understanding, whether we live with it, depart from it, betray it or pay attention to it. Somewhere in the background it is singing to us. If we just will notice. God is love.
Here’s to movie mornings and to the Hollywood that sometimes says more, much more than it knows, and to the God who slips meaning into our living every chance He gets.
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.