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:
I found three journals hidden away behind a stack of books in the bookcases in my home study. In one of them I had recorded an incident. The date and location is noted as “November 7, 1995/Battle Green Inn, Danvers, MA.”
David and I had gone to eat in Concord, Massachusetts at a historic fire station that was now a restaurant. We were ushered to a table for two by the hostess who was wearing a trim black skirt, and although we were engaged in conversation with each other, we both noted after a while that it was taking a long time for anyone to come and say, “How can I serve you?”
Finally, our young waitress, obviously harried but attempting to be professional, apologized, “Do you mind waiting? Our chef has been rushed to the hospital…”
Since a pleasant afternoon stretched out before us, that was made all the more pleasant because we had nothing else in particular to do but drive the rental car to Danvers and find our lodging at the King’s Grant Hotel, we felt that we could take our time. The most pressing item in our day was my husband’s hunt for some authentic New England clam chowder.
The menu we were studying was a good one, but unfortunately there was no clam chowder. A printed note to customers informed us that dinner entrées were only served after 5 p.m. It was now around 1:30 in the afternoon—one with a crisis in the kitchen. So we went ahead and ordered—David a steak sandwich, and I a Caesar salad accompanied by a luncheon salmon ravioli.
My notes in the journal read:
A basket of rolls comes. David catches our waitress to remind her about cream for his coffee. Some customers are rather grumpy about the long-delayed service. Some are waiting in line to be seated. But David and I chat and wait (and wait), pleasantly relaxed, and watch the group dynamics in the old fire house, now turned restaurant.
“Do you mind moving to another table?” Our waitress is joined by an older woman we haven’t seen before. The hostess who brought us to the table has disappeared (maybe she is with the chef at the hospital). I remember she wore a trim black skirt. Our table for two, crowded close to the front door, which has been in a drafty spot after all, is now needed to shove together and expand other tables to make room for a larger group. No problem. I began to eye a more roomy and empty table for four. Hurriedly, our waitress stacks our coffee cups on the dinner plates and moves us. Another server who has come from the kitchen moves our basket of dinner rolls and the water glasses (David loses his cream). I take my coat, which I had draped over my shoulders, and fold it on an extra chair. We are promised free dessert for our cooperation.
The waitress appears again, embarrassment crowding her features. “I’m so sorry. We aren’t able to serve the ravioli; the chef has to be present to make the sauce. The only person back in the kitchen is a cook’s intern—or something.” We’re still amiable, after all accidents do happen, although in the corner of my eye I see one party get up from the table and rather grumpily move to the door.
David can still get his steak sandwich. I can have my Caesar salad (all the rolls in the kitchen have been consumed). The Soup of the Day is available (she offers this hopefully); a mushroom with jalapeno-pepper concoction. I order that.
“What happened to the chef?” my husband inquires. “He sliced his finger. It looked pretty bad. There was blood … everywhere.” I can see the young woman wonders if she should offer this last bit. (We are in a restaurant, after all.)
The Caesar salad and my soup come. The salad is good but dripping in dressing like the leftover at the bottom of the salad bowl I used to love to finish as a child. David and I share the salad and soup, and when his stead sandwich finally comes, I share a few bites of that as well as his curly french fries. Another couple departs in a wave of disapproval.
This is becoming funny. The waitress begins to pause a little each time she passes the table to give us updates on the status of the climate in the kitchen or on the crankiness of the customers she must apologize to, then apologize to again. Our good humor is an anchor for her. The restaurant is emptying. Only a few tables are full, one couple behind us and she has sent back her salad (I know why). Another couple are leaving, but they were served before the chef sliced his finger (not off, I hope!). They have been engrossed in conversation, totally unaware of the KITCHEN DRAMA.
“How’re you holding up?” David asks our waitress when she brings our free dessert—a pear tart and a slice of apple pie with white raisins, then hot coffee. (David has finally received a second pitcher of milk.)
The waitress is confidential; we have become friends. I note the fall sunlight rushing in the door. A little child, “Leah” an adult has called her, takes a shiny red apple out of a basket, then, grandchild-like, begins to spit the skin out on the floor. The grandma beside her says, “Oh, let Grandmother catch that,” and holds out her palm as the child spits the skin of each bite into her hand.
The old CONCORD FIRE STATION sign hangs across one wall, the dark rich wood paneling, brass fixtures, the narrow front room with a half flight of steps leading to a more open room, the face of another waitress peeking at us (word of our congeniality has gotten about back in the crisis kitchen)—all this materiality and life leans as though listening for our server’s answer, “Some people, like you two, are fine; some people are not so fine. I guess I’m just really bummed out by it all.”
David and I share our desserts. We leave a tip of $20.00.
This is a story that became funnier in the telling for the few months we remembered when the chef cut his finger in the kitchen of the Concord Fire Station-turned-restaurant. It was a real-life incident that is the stuff of story-making for any eager storyteller. But in time, we forgot all about it, and the incident no longer lived in the annals of our oral tradition—until … until I found the journals hidden in the back of my bookcase in my writer’s study. Then I remembered and laughed again and told the story to friends once more. (What is in the rest of the hidden journals?)
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.