“Celtic Christians had a name for the Holy Spirit–An Geadh-Glas, or ‘the Wild Goose.’ The name hints at mystery. Much like a wild goose, the Spirit of God cannot be tracked or tamed. An element of danger, an air of unpredictability surround Him.”
– Mark Batterson in Wild Goose Chase: Reclaiming the Adventure of Pursuing God
A conversation yesterday with an old friend reminded me of an incredibly impactful discovery I’d made a few years ago involving the Celts and their wild goose. He expressed:
“I wish I had that much faith to go completely give myself over to the will of the Lord. I’m stuck believing that with the right preparation the Lord will give me an opportunity. Which forces me to be safe in the way I live. Always prepared. If I don’t feel prepared, I get anxious. Idk tho. Everytime I have ever traveled alone I have always found myself doing things I never planned to do. Being taken on paths I had never even fathomed and being provided for by strangers and circumstance.”
I got excited, because this is exactly how someone sounds just before the Goose swoops in and completely messes them up! Hang on, bud…it’s going to be an incredible journey.
To this day, I remember the exact moment the Goose found me and my soul recognized a critical piece of itself was being suppressed.
It was during a season of a million questions and inevitable transition but no clear path. I’d met someone, THE one, and was praying about all the different difficult choices I’d have to make in order to be with him. As is my propensity when brewing big ideas, I decided to wander for the afternoon in order for God to have the occasion to surprise me with unplanned lessons or revelatory encounters. While browsing through a Barnes & Noble, a backwards book caught my attention:
“Most of us have no idea where we’re going most of the time. PERFECT.”
I was so overjoyed upon reading the rest of the description that I immediately snapped a photo and sent it to my intended with the comment, “See? I’m not ‘immature’ or ‘irresponsible’! I’m just CELTIC! You can blame your quirks and habits on being Chinese, I can blame my sense of adventure and following Holy Spirit wherever He may lead on being Scotch/Irish. Papa has promised that He’s got me in His hands right now, and I know I’m frustrating you by not having an exact plan, but I know God’s got me 🙂 This proves it.”
Here’s what the rest of the cover said:
“Celtic Christians had a name for the Holy Spirit–An Geadh-Glas, or ‘the Wild Goose.’ The name hints at mystery. Much like a wild goose, the Spirit of God cannot be tracked or tamed. An element of danger, an air of unpredictability surround Him. And while the name may sound a little sacrilegious, I cannot think of a better description of what it’s like to follow the Spirit through life. I think the Celtic Christians were on to something…Most of us will have no idea where we are going most of the time. And I know that is unsettling. But circumstantial uncertainty also goes by another name: Adventure.” (Wild Goose Chase: Reclaiming the Adventure of Pursuing God by Mark Batterson)
I’m not sure whether my heart leapt higher for the fact that it was a whole book confirming that I wasn’t alone in flowing where God leads me or for the fact that they defined “adventure” as “circumstantial uncertainty.” Either way, it was as if someone came along and finally told the ugly, rejected duckling that she was really a swan – I wasn’t in the wrong, I was just in the wrong nest and needed to find my people.
Unfortunately, my enthusiasm was not shared by those in that particular nest. The first major fight my ex-fiance and I ever had was over my sending him that book cover that day. He called me, irritated that I would even send him that picture; when I tried to explain my reasoning to him, he told me that I was the least responsible person he’d ever met, that I was lazy for not having even started working on a resume yet, and asked me, “So maybe when you’re done being a free spirit you could grow up and start paying your bills…or are you thinking I’ll be doing that for you while you get to stay home and make art all day with our kids?” Heart. Broken. Was I really being careless, or was God inviting me into a level of intimacy and faith that teaches ruthless trust? I wanted to have a plan and had great anxiety over not feeling in control of the next step, but I knew in my gut what God was whispering and that to ignore His direction would be disastrous.
I’d spend the next two years scorning my “flighty” artistic side, silencing God’s voice lest it ask me to do something seemingly radical and irresponsible, trying to be a productive adult, and ending up utterly miserable. Because, you see… a bird is created to fly: “It would be like this bird, whose nature it is to fly, choosing only to walk and remain grounded. He doesn’t stop being the bird, but it does alter his experience of life significantly” (Wm. Paul Young in The Shack). Lesson learned.
Sometimes (see: “most of the time”) when we begin to answer His call to radical faith and ruthless trust, the opposition heats up quick. It starts as a battle in our own brains – our logical side and the part of us that doesn’t want people to see us as irresponsible or flaky wages war with the burning passion growing within our hearts to explode into whatever wild unknown God may have before us. “Would God REALLY say THAT? Are you sure it’s not just the voice of your own desire? I mean, that doesn’t even make sense…. and what if you fail?” Even if we can contain the inner turmoil, those we love and believe to be our closest friends and family may not understand. They begin to heap on the pressure, in the name of loving concern for your wellbeing, without really knowing that this can sound like rejection, be counterproductive to what God is working, and become soul-deadening. Upon opposition, this can melt into anger or frustration. Regardless of their reaction or motive, great pain can come from being vulnerable and feeling like what you feel in your spirit is rejected or misunderstood – call it a crash-course in deeper intimacy and dependence on Papa. Chasing the Goose is not for the faint of heart.
This is why it is so important for us to seek out our people – Kris Valloton (the pastor under whose tutelage I’m about to submit for the next year at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry) spoke on this quite a bit at the beginning of this year: find your people, find your people, find your people. This journey to find my tribe has taken several years, and I have finally found them here in Redding. But that is not what this blog is about. It’s about the process, the chase, and the off-chance that you’re a fellow goose-chaser in serious need of affirmation, validation, and encouragement to keep running.
My quest to formulate the best, most inspirational response to my friend yielded the following results, rendered here for your pondering pleasure:
“The Celts looked at nature and saw God revealed in all His glory and they understood God best when they took symbols from what they experienced. The Holy Spirit was symbolized by the wild goose. Doves were docile and delicate, but the wild goose was untamable, free, and unpredictable. Instead of a soft coo, the wild goose was noisy and raucous. And it seemed always to be on the move—on a pilgrimage ordained by the Lord Himself…
Jesus said that those Christians who were led by the Spirit were like the wind—you don’t know where it comes from and you don’t know where it’s going. A Christian who follows the wild goose is wild and free themselves. They have lives that are less than predictable. They live life to the full (John 10:10). They are wild and free, untamable either by society that would bind them with lies or by religion that would chain them with duty and obligation.”
“And it seemed always to be on the move—on a pilgrimage ordained by the Lord Himself…” Oh, how I love that. It’s spot on. I’ve put more miles on my poor little Beetle in the last 7 months than in the 4 years I’ve had her, all without having a job, a clear idea of what’s next, or any real desire to do anything but passionately come alive in order to follow God’s will wherever it’s leading. “Ministry” is on hold. “Career” is on hold. I’m livin’ on a prayer and rise each day and wonder what’s in store. This season has challenged and stretched my faith more than I could’ve imagined, and it’s only about to get bigger! I have less than a month to raise all my tuition for BSSM, on top of living expenses for this season, and every single job option has been shut down except the arts and photography studio I’m starting (which I have a lot of fear surrounding). God said go, He said seek Me in increasing depth, He said rest and wait and see how I provide, and He wasn’t kidding. I’ve done all I know to do, and as resourceful and crazy adaptable as I am, I’m at the end of myself. And I’m not the only one…there seems to be a whole lot of this going around (or maybe it’s just because I’m rollin’ with Bethel peeps now?). We’ve all said “yes” to the call, “no” to convention, and “bring it on” to whatever wave of crazy adventure God’s bringing our way in this new season.
My life is a wild goose chase, and it’s time to fly.
Who wants to join my “V”?