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:
For the last 37 years, David and I have traveled annually to the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. During that time we’ve hauled our kids, extended family members, friends, and work colleagues, hoping they’d enjoy the theatrical treasures of North America’s largest and world-class repertory company.
For some, this has been a “transforming experience” (as one high-school senior reported this summer). A few of those we’ve exposed to the magic of Stratford have returned regularly on their own. Some others are regulars, returning with us every year. Some have thanked us and never come again. Although the performances are always wondrous, we now receive the most joy in exposing others to this rare and remarkable opportunity and having them love it as much as we do.
As we aged and our income potential became limited, we had to consider the fact that we might just not be able to afford Stratford as part of our regular summer routine. However, before ending the tradition, we offered to make arrangements for 22-26 theatre aficionados to meet us annually in Stratford for a dramatic extravaganza—six plays in five days—Shakespeare and musicals, ancient Greek theatre and contemporary classics. This was a way to cover our costs and to share an experience we loved with people who might also enjoy it.
When we first started hosting Shakespeare in Stratford, just the difference on the currency exchange between the American and Canadian dollar underwrote our tickets and bed-and-breakfast expenses. Then, as the two national economies began to reach parity, and we lost the currency-value advantage, the VAT (a return of retail government taxes to non-citizen tourists) covered our administrative overhead. That incentive was lost when the tourist return tax was canceled. So again, we wondered how long we could afford this beloved Mains’ summer tradition.
Last year, David wearied all of the administrative work of reserving B&B’s, ordering tickets, assigning guests, dealing with cancellations and last-minute sign-ups, spending five days being concerned that everyone enjoyed themselves, showing newcomers around town, and designing breakfast questions dealing with the previous day’s plays. “It’s just too much work,” I heard him say. “I think I’m done with this.”
So our daughter and son-in-law (theatre majors in college) took pity on David and picked up the administrative responsibilities for this year. It wasn’t too long before they too were commenting, “Dad, this is really a lot of work!”—music to a parent’s ears.
Despite this reality, Stratford came off again this July. Half our usual group was unable to attend, which left us with a smaller number, no responsibilities to speak of, and not only that, as a gift for our 50th wedding anniversary, Doug and Melissa covered our expenses—a total turnaround after 37 years of saving money all year in order to be able to treat friends who we suspected would be thrilled with the artistic aesthetic of this remarkable repertory company.
We loved being with the smaller group and not having to worry about helping to absorb newcomers. (Everyone who attended this year has been coming for the last 5-7 years and knew the Stratford routine.) The kids who have come up with their parents or grandparents were old enough now to “do” the town on their own. And, after all these years, our way was underwritten without us having to work for it.
Maybe all this was one of the reasons we felt this was “the best year ever at Stratford.” (I suspect it also had something to do with purely exquisite theatricality, with new artistic directors, with sunny gorgeous summer weather, with a happy theatre party, with beautiful gardens all over town at the height of their July bloom, and with the fact that we could completely concentrate on enjoying all this—also, naps in the afternoons.) We experienced unexpected and happy theatre “daze.”
Thank you, Doug and Melissa, for giving us a break and an incredible 50th-anniversary present. Thank you to our friends who throughout the years have shared the love of this experience with us. Thank you to the grandkids who think Stratford is “awesome.” And thank you to God from whom all good gifts are given.
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.