Chasing the Wild Goose - A Way of Following God
by Keith Wahl
Mark Batterson opens his book, Wild Goose Chase, this way:
“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” - Helen Keller
“The Celtic Christians had a name for the Holy Spirit that has always intrigued me. They called Him An Geadh-Glas, or “the Wild Goose.” I love the imagery and implications. The name hints at the mysterious nature of the Holy Spirit. Much like a wild goose, the Spirit of God cannot be tracked or tamed. An element of danger and an air of unpredictability surround Him. And while the name may sound a little sacrilegious at first earshot, I cannot think of a better description of what it’s like to pursue the Spirit’s leading through life than Wild Goose chase. I think the Celtic Christians were on to something that institutionalized Christianity has miss out on. And I wonder if we have clipped the wings of the Wild Goose and settled for something less - much less - than what God originally intended for us.
I understand that “wild goose chase” typically refers to a purposeless endeavor without a defined destination. But chasing the Wild Goose is different. The promptings of the Holy Spirit can sometimes seem pretty pointless, but rest assured, God is working His plan. And if you chase the Wild Goose, He will take you places you never could have imagined going by paths you never knew existed.”
Until the late spring of 2016, I’m not sure I would have been able to resonate with Batterson’s ideas. Every move in my life would more likely have been characterized as careful and calculated, even my commitment to Christ. That commitment began with surrendering my professional life to the Lord, and I would have equated following Christ professionally to more success, higher and higher levels of professional opportunity. It would have looked a lot more like prosperity Gospel than whatever this “wild goose” thing is.
Over the past year and a half, I’ve been chasing this wild goose and it has been the most important journey of my life. Until a friend recommended Batterson’s book to me a little over a month ago, I wouldn’t have had the peace or understanding to articulate it in this way. Some may have called this thing a “dark night of the soul” or even a “mid-life crisis.” It’s our way, as human beings, to put into words a spiritual experience that has been ordained by God. Once I encountered Batterson’s book and this idea of “chasing the wild goose,” my experiences became more clear.
Late in the book, Batterson explains that researchers have come to a “simple yet profound conclusion” in that “losses loom larger than gains.” He goes on to say that “the aversion to loss of a certain magnitude is greater than the attraction to gain of the same magnitude.” I’ve seen this in my coaching of kids in the game of baseball multiple times. A strikeout looms larger and longer than does the RBI double. A player is less likely to take a risk in changing his swing because he’ll have to go backwards before he goes forward. We fear loss and experience failure on a deeper level than we do success or gain.
In my Wild Goose Chase, I’ve come to learn that life is full of win-win propositions. Connor McGregor has said, “I either win or I learn.” Win-win. In Philippians 1:21, Paul says, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Win-win. The Gospel of Christ is one of transformation. When you chase the wild goose, you realize that all you were holding on to were the limitations of your personal growth. Chase the Wild Goose and experience whole new ideas of freedom in Christ.