Guidance, Holy Spirit, vocation

Wild Goose Chase…

Wild Geese, in the ancient world these animals were seen as dangerous, magnificent but terrifying, unpredictable animals, not easy to follow, and almost impossible to catch. The image of a wild goose was one the early Celtic Christians used to describe the Holy Spirit, as following where the Holy Spirit leads is a dynamic following, that is unpredictable, a bit dangerous, and the Holy Spirit is almost impossible to catch, as when we think we’ve ‘pinned God down’ we discover he is leading us in a different direction.

The Wild Goose has echoes of C.S. Lewis’ famous quote about Aslan (the Christ character), ‘“Is he safe?” Lucy asked “of course he’s not safe, but he is good”.

Picks up the idea from John 3, of the Spirit being like ‘the wind that blows where it will’.

So all Christians all called to go on a ‘wild goose chase’… A lifestyle which (to quote Francis Chan) “unbelievers aren’t supposed to understand” or Pete Greig: “(non Christians) marvel at their strange existence”; the image of a wild goose chase is exciting image, -echoing Jesus promise in John 10:10- “to have come to give us life, and life in all its fullness’; the polar opposite of the common misconception of following Jesus as being boring!

If you wanted to catch a wild goose, you were pretty brave, and you had to give it 100%, you can’t catch a wild goose whilst perusing another agenda, because you will loose the wild goose…

The Bible talks about ‘keeping in step with the spirit’ following his lead, hearing his voice, Jesus says ‘my sheep know my voice’; Or the prophet Isaiah says ‘whether you turn to the right or the left you will hear a voice behind you saying this is the way walk in it’…

Archbishop Rowan described Mission as “finding out what God is doing and joining in”, I think he is right, but actually I think this is broader than just mission, our chief aim in life as Christians is to live our whole life ‘in tune’ or  ‘in harmony’ with God.

Often we think of the ‘call’ as exclusively about ordination, yet I believe God is constantly speaking, guiding us, in the small choices and the big, involved in every area of our life, and he is constantly calling us to go deeper with him, to serve, to love, to share, bless, pray, worship.

When we first started doing Street Pastors, we shot around the streets chatting away at break-neck speed, until we realized that God was telling us to slow down, to look, listen and seek him.

I think we don’t hear God’s voice mainly because we aren’t listening for it.

I think we don’t see God at work, because we aren’t looking for it.

When we went slower, we spotted many more opportunities to bless, help, listen, share and sometime to talk about Jesus and to pray with people.

The issue has never been can God speak, the issue has rather been, do we want to hear it?

The issue has never been can God use you, -after all God is more into our availability than our ability, and isn’t limited by our limitations- the issue is will we let him?

St. Francis of Assisi, led the biggest missionary movement since the book of Acts, and one of his key principles was ‘obedience’,  following Christ with nothing else distracting from being led by his Saviour, he gave up EVERYTHING to follow Christ, wealth, status relationship; and yet in giving up everything he gained everything too, a life of fullness in the exciting adventure of faith following Christ.

The Wild Goose chase may look foolish, just as the merchant who sold everything in order to gain the pearl of great price, or the man who paid over the odds for a field with buried treasure in it, may have appeared foolish, but they noticed the purity of the pearl, the value of the journey, that it is the best way of living life, with rewards that are literally out of this world, yet is a commitment that requires total surrender.

The Rich Young Man was required to give up EVERYTHING he had before coming to follow Christ, (not just make a generous donation)… A Chinese proverb says every journey starts with a single step.

Elisha, when he accepted the call to follow God, sacrificed his ox on their ploughs as an offering to God, no going back.

As the writer to the Hebrews writes in Chapter 12: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith”.

More recently a martyred Missionary Jim Elliott said this; “he is no fool, who gives up what he cannot keep, (his life) in order to gain what he cannot loose (Christ)”.

CT Studd said: “If Jesus Christ is God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”

I’m struck that when Jesus sent out the 72, he sent them out vulnerably, with nothing with them, no complex strategies but just reliant on God, too often as Christians we have become a bit reliant on our props, but here they have no baggage, no ideas nicked from elsewhere or an ‘off the peg strategy’ from the coolest current Christian course from the hippest Church on the internet or whatever…

It is an exciting, dangerous journey following Jesus, after-all he said that if you wanted to follow him you must be prepared to pick up your cross and follow him- knowing that even death cannot destroy the good things that God has in store for those who love him; the journey is worth it.

We go empty handed, but knowing that ‘the one who calls us is faithful’ and to echo a hymn: “all I have needed thy hand hath provided”

To the world it may look like foolishness, but we are fools for Christ, and actually I wonder, whose fooling who?

It is living by faith; which John Wimber spelled “R-I-S-K”

So, let’s live our lives as a wild goose chase.