“Wild Goose Chase”

On summer vacation, I read Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson. Batterson is one of my favorite writers and I love this book!

The title for the book comes from the name Celtic Christians have for the Holy Spirit, the Wild Goose. It denotes adventure. Batterson makes clear, “nothing is more unnerving or disorienting than passionately pursuing God” (2).

The book addresses “six cages,” or ways we cage the Holy Spirit, the Wild Goose …

  • the cage of responsibility
  • the cage of routine
  • the cage of assumptions
  • the cage of guilt
  • the cage of failure
  • the cage of fear

Here are some of my favorite quotes in each section …

Responsibility

We are called to follow in Christ’s footsteps. Christ followers ought to be the most passionate people on the planet. Pursuing God-ordained passions isn’t optional. It is an essential part of chasing the Wild Goose. And the adventure begins the moment we start pursuing a God-ordained passion. (17)

Batterson encourages us to pray.

Start praying. Prayer makes us spiritually fertile. And the more we pray the more passionate we become. Our convictions grow stronger, and our dreams grow bigger. (26)

Prayer is necessary, but don’t use it as cop-out. At some point, prayer must lead to action.

Pray about everything. Then pray some more. But at some point, you need to quit praying and start acting.” (28)

Batterson notes the early church was action oriented.

When Christianity turns into a noun, it becomes a turnoff. Christianity was always intended to be a verb. And, more specifically, an action verb. The title of the book of Acts says it all, doesn’t it? It’s not the book of Ideas or Theories or Words. It’s the book of Acts. If the twenty-first-century church said less and did more, maybe we would have the same kind of impact the first-century church did. (29)

Routine

When we get into the routine of life …

… the sacred becomes routine. And we not only forfeit spiritual adventure but we also start losing the joy of our salvation. Chasing the Wild Goose is the way to get it back. That means coming out of the cage of the routine. We need to change our routine, take some risks, and try new things. And if we do, we will find ourselves coming alive again. (44)

Batterson offers a great reminder about the importance of Sabbath. He notes, “The word Sabbath means ‘to catch one’s breath'” (54).

It’s counterintuitive, but the way you speed up is by slowing down. A Wild Goose chase isn’t a mad dash. It’s more of a triathlon. And pacing yourself for the journey is the key. (55)

Assumptions

… We make far too many assumptions about what is and what is not possible in the physical universe. We do the same thing spiritually. And those assumptions become eight-foot ceilings that limit our lives. (75)

It can happen to all of us. Batterson says, “We stop gazing at the stars and start staring at the ceiling” (77).

As I reviewed the book again, this is one of the statements that especially struck me …

Faith is not logical. But it isn’t illogical either. Faith is theological. It doesn’t ignore reality; it just adds God into the equation. (79)

Guilt

Guilt can be good or bed.

When we sin, guilt is a healthy and holy reflex. Thank God for the conviction of the Holy Spirit that drives us to repentance. (95)

There’s good news. God’s grace is available to us.

The moment we confess our sin to God, our sin is forgiven and forgotten. But for most of us, it is far easier to accept God’s forgiveness than it is to forgive ourselves. (95)

Batterson describes the role of the enemy.

Scripture says Satan ‘prowls around like a roaring lion.’ Satan is also the accuser of the brothers. … He wants to remind you of your greatest failures over and over again. Why? Because if you focus all your energy on past failures, you’ll have no energy left to dream kingdom dreams or pursue kingdom purposes. (97-98)

But it’s all about God’s grace.

The grace of God is the difference between drowning in guilt and swimming in gratitude. (115)

Failure

It’s so important we handle failure well.

Failure handled improperly can be devastating, but failure handled properly is the best thing that can happen to us. Failure teaches us our most valuable lessons. It keeps us from taking the credit or taking for granted later successes. (118)

Batterson describes “closed doors” as “divine detours” (122). And they can “actually turn into the best things that can happen to us” (123).

Bad things happen to good people. You will experience some shipwrecks and snakebites along the way. But when you give Jesus complete editorial control over your life, he begins writing His-story through your life. (126)

Fear

Fear can keep us from doing what God wants.

Most of us are far too tentative when it comes to the will of God. We let our fears dictate our decisions. We are so afraid of making the wrong decision that we make no decision. And we fail to realize that indecision is a decision. And it is our indecision, not our bad decisions, that keeps us in the cage. (144)

Too often we think it should get easier as we go along.

I think we’ve made a false assumption about the will of God. We subconsciously think it should get easier the longer we follow Christ. … spiritual growth prepares us for more dangerous missions. As we grow, God gives us more difficult things to do. (150)

God calls us to action!

… selfish ambition is bad. But godly ambition is good. I’ve never met anyone who was overly ambitious for the things of God. We need to dream God-sized dreams … they’re the only things that will drive us to our knees and keep us living in absolute dependence upon God the way we were designed to. (160)

Great book! My hope and prayer is that we will rediscover what it means follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. I pray it will become an adventure as we chase the Wild Goose!

My Stroke

I suffered a stroke on September 19 around 10:00 p.m.

It happened very quickly. I was pretty calm, but I didn’t know what was going to happen. At the time, I was frustrated I wasn’t able to tell my family, including my kids who had gotten out of bed, that I loved them, possibly for the last time. In fact, I delayed the ambulance trying to get the words out but couldn’t. I was very disappointed!

Thankfully, Joleen was able to call 911 and get help. Moments later, I remember waiting in the ambulance in front of the house but don’t remember anything after that. I was life-flighted to Altoona and then onto Pittsburgh where I spent the next 15 days at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital.

I don’t remember the first few days at the hospital, but I gradually became more aware. It was a pretty surreal experience. The nights seemed especially long; I described them being three times as long as the days. I sometimes wondered where Joleen was because I didn’t see her for so long, or so it seemed.

Doctors suspected a brain bleed, but it wasn’t until a second angiogram revealed the cause of the brain bleed, an AVM (arteriovenous malformation). I underwent surgery on September 29, a craniotomy, which went well. The surgeon described the brain bleed as “severe”; he later said it was the size of a lemon.

A few days later, I was transferred to HealthSouth (Altoona) for therapy and spent 25 days in occupational, physical, and speech therapy. I would have stayed longer to make the most of my inpatient therapy, but that was as long as our insurance would allow. I appreciated my time at HealthSouth. I enjoyed visiting there six weeks after I was discharged for a routine appointment with the rehab doctor. I got to see my three therapists. It was especially rewarding to walk in without a wheelchair or a cane!

From early on, I discovered I was “fiercely independent” (a phrase used by a speech therapist at HealthSouth). I quickly learned to dress myself, including socks and shoes, and open my own food, all with one hand.

With the stroke I lost the use of my right side and my communication. Thankfully, my communication has come back pretty well (I was recently discharged from speech therapy), and my right side continues to get stronger. I continue to go to Drayer Physical Therapy for occupational therapy and physical therapy three days a week.

The toughest part is the daily battle. There’s no time to settle. There are always new accomplishments to achieve. This is how it’s going to be for a while!

I’m so grateful to God and the many people who have helped with my recovery, including surgeons, doctors, nurses, and therapists at Presbyterian Hospital (Pittsburgh), HealthSouth (Altoona), as well as the physical and occupational therapists at Drayer (Clearfield) and a speech therapist Penn Highlands (Clearfield). I’m especially grateful for my family, friends, and the prayers of God’s people!

Well, we wish that was the end of the story. However, a routine follow-up angiogram revealed some “residual AVM.” Hopefully, this will be addressed in the next few weeks with different procedures.

If you’d like to follow the journey, visit my Facebook timeline. We continue to put our trust in God’s hands!