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:
My faith that God is guiding my journey is tested every time I use my standby pass to travel by air. A friend has graciously made this available to me, and we are beginning to total up the amount of monies we are saving as David and I both have a great deal of journeying in our schedule this year.
However, my trust is tested every time I check in, receive my boarding pass (with STBY clearly labeled on it), then find a place in the waiting room to see whether I make the flight or not. The trip I took two weeks ago entailed a leg out of Chicago to Phoenix, then out of Phoenix to San Francisco, then from San Francisco to Modesto, from Modesto to San Francisco, and finally from San Francisco back to Chicago.
The mid-morning flight from Chicago to Phoenix was fine. My name was number four on the posted standby list. The plane was large, other travelers had flown out on earlier flights—I was even assigned a seat in an exit row, where the leg room is much more compatible than in the painfully crowded economy rows.
Leaving Phoenix for San Francisco was another matter. The 10 o’clock flight was full, the plane was smaller, and my name was number six on the list. I have made it a rule of thumb not to scoot from counter to counter, trying to take care of myself, but simply to trust the process of boarding and reassigning. I’m learning to simply let the Lord take care of me. Because I was troubled that morning by something pressing upon my heart, I decided not to read or make notes for writing, but to spend the time in prayer and to include all the strangers who also were waiting to fly to San Francisco.
Because I was paying attention, I realized that a good number of folk were traveling through San Francisco to different points in China. Our flight was delayed due to fog in the Bay Area, and the gate attendant called for people connecting to Seattle. About four people were reassigned to another flight. They weren’t on the standby list, but it did mean that more seats had become available on the full plane.
I marveled at the patient way the gate attendant rerouted customers, how careful and kind she was to pay attention to the Chinese man who approached the counter multiple times with urgent questions about transferring his family in San Francisco for a flight to Shanghai, and what he should do if they missed their flight, where they should stay, etc., etc. (How well I recognized traveler’s anxiety.) His English was heavily accented, and I had great trouble understanding him, but she just kept at it until she was sure she comprehended. In time, an American traveler, also watching the little drama at the counter, approached and offered his translation capabilities. Soon, most of the man’s anxieties were allayed.
One airline employee checked to make sure she would get out on this flight, and the attendant assured her that when the plane finally left, she would be on it. My name had now moved up to fourth place in the standby list, but I was pretty sure I wouldn’t make it.
At last the pilots gave word that they had been cleared to board passengers and now I was waiting near the counter, attempting to calm my own nerves and tell myself that I had thrown my traveling future away to God and that whatever happened, He was in control. three. Then lo and behold, two more names were announced and they were no-shows; I actually made it on the delayed plane to San Francisco, and I was even assigned an Economy Plus seat!
Coming home, however, my name was number 16. There was no way I was going to make that flight on a Friday afternoon from a busy hub airport like San Francisco. I almost left the gate area to find a decent place to purchase lunch. But this rule of thumb is beginning to apply in all this traffic drama: Don’t leave the gate. So I stayed, but not before I checked the air-traffic monitors, where I discovered that the next flights for Chicago left two hours later, and two hours after that. I phoned David at home to give him a heads-up that the plane was full, there were 15 other people ahead of me, and I didn’t know exactly when I would be arriving.
However, I did notice that a lot of airline employees seemed to be lining up for this flight; I could tell because many of them wore tags, some were in uniforms, and I also caught snatches of conversation indicated insider’s knowledge. Perhaps this was a flight that had been added to move personnel around the system.
Reading down the names on the posted list, I discovered my name had moved up from the 16th place to number four. How could this be? I packed up my briefcase, gathered my things and moved closer to the counter just as the gate attendant called, “Karen Mains. Will Karen Mains come to the counter?”
I’m sure there are airline employees who have pretty much figured out the system that I am still too much of a novice to detect and quantify (or maybe there just isn’t a system—I’m only hoping there is). Each trip where I fly out on standby is an exercise in trust. I have no ticket in hand that guarantees me a seat on board. I have to choose to believe that God is the Ticket-Master, makes places available when needed, and knows exactly where I am headed and when.
Why then am I nervous about getting a place on the plane if I’m maintaining the belief that God is in control of my comings and goings? This verse has become exceedingly real to me, “For he shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.” (Psalm 91:11)
For me, “all (my) ways” includes airports in Chicago and Phoenix and San Francisco and Modesto—then back again. Every time I fly these days, I am growing my trust in the going. This is a stretching exercise as real as any I might employ with mats, bungee cords and a book on flexibility. I am learning the practical truth of “he shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.” This is no longer spiritual theory but a most-tangible reality. The letters on every boarding pass reinforce what I am learning: STBY.
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.