Well heeeellllooo there. I've not been as prolific in writing or making posts as I'd like to have been the past month or so. I guess I do have to give myself a bit of a break since my wife and I did just increase our family size by one more child six weeks ago. (Keely Hope's in the hiz-zouse!)
I was meant to do this a year ago. I failed. I was offered an opportunity to review a book and post some of my thoughts here by the book's launch date, but I didn't. I bet the author is glad I wasn't asked to give an endorsement! I did get through the book, but because of other activities / commitments during the end of last summer, the deadline was not met and then it faded into the recesses of my mind . . only to reappear on occasions like an abscess in your gums - just wanting it to go away. Well . . I wouldn't let it. I said I would do this and I am. If you stick through this brief review, and answer (correctly) the contest question at the end of the review, you'll get a *FREE* copy of the book sent to you (yes, anywhere in the world). Let's go!
The book in question is called 'Wild Goose Chase - Reclaim the Adventure of Pursuing God' and it's by Mark Batterson (the same author of 'In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day').
Firstly, this book came at just the right time for Christy and I. I had been struggling to believe God for the 'impossible' - or the seemingly out-of-reach. I was making general requests in my conversations with God - not trusting Him for the God-sized requests I wanted to ask Him for. Then came Wild Goose Chase . . I was suitably challenged and inspired!
I had never read Mark's other book mentioned above and had only recently heard about him. If you'd like more info on Mark and where he pastors in Washington D.C. go here. What caught my imagination at the start was the title of the book. Wild Goose Chase is a play on a phrase. The most obvious is the popular meaning of a wild goose chase being, "a foolish and hopeless pursuit of something unattainable". Mark was playing the phrase from a different angle. He was borrowing from a theme in ancient Celtic Christian lore that saw the wild goose as an illustration of the Holy Spirit - contextualised to the experience of people living in this island at the time. There were some aspects of the wild goose which reminded t hese early Christians of the characteristics of the Holy Spirit and it's activity their lives.
The other aspect of Mark's book that I really enjoyed was his stance / attitude to living courageously - 'recklessly abandoning himself to God'. This was a HUGE area of resonance with me. I have always likened being in relationship with God as being on an adventure of a lifetime where you don't know what He'll do in, through or around you at any given time. It's this understanding that has predicated the past twenty plus years of life in the love of God, it's what set the stage for Christy and I to work at Willow Creek Community Church in the late nineties, to move to N. Ireland to work with young people and to relocate to the Republic of Ireland three plus years ago in an effort to live missionally among the people God has called us to serve. Adventure and 'risk' runs R-E-D in my blood and in Mark Batterson's - if I read him rightly.
There were, at times, aspects of his style of writing that I didn't really track with. Some of it is no doubt the strong 'Americanisms' which have become somewhat foreign to me. If you're an American who's been living outside the States for any length of time, or a non-American, you'll know what I mean. The other thing that grated on me just a bit was Mark's tendency to state regularly throughout his writing a phrase which, to me, connotated an aire of 'know-it-all'. More than once he employed a variation of the phrase, ". . this is a little something I like to call . . .". I'm in no way saying that he actually thinks that way or means to give that aire. That was simply my experience of it - and it was minor to my reading of him.
Some aspects of the book well illustrated the overall theme of Mark's writing such as the chapter titles:
- Yawning Angels
- Goose Bumps
- Dictatorship of the Ordinary
- Eight-foot Ceilings
- A Rooster's Crow
- Sometimes it Takes a Shipwreck
- Good Old-Fashioned Guts
- Madonna of the Future
The following selection of quotes were also indicative of the flavor of Wild Goose Chase:
". . in my experience, intellectual analysis usually results in spiritual paralysis." [pg. 2]
"I wonder if churches do to people what zoos do to animals." [pg. 5]
". . the cage opens when we realize that Jesus didn't die on the cross to to keep us safe. Jesus died to make us dangerous." [pg. 6]
"You cannot simultaneously live by faith and be bored. Faith and boredom are antithetical." [pg. 7]
"I am determined to pursue God-ordained passions until the day I die. Life is too precious to settle for anything less." [pg. 16]
"Here is the mistake that so many of us make: we start out pursuing a passion and end up settling for a paycheck. So instead of making a life, all we do is make a living." [pg. 17]
With many more exhortations, insights, stories and illustrations Mark was used by the Wild Goose (Holy Spirit) to move, inspire, challenge and encourage me to, as St. Ignatius said, 'whole-heartedly surrender myself into the loving care of God' (paraphrase).
Now, if you are suitably intrigued and are experiencing a growing desire to read, reflect and act on Mark Batterson's challenge to us in Wild Goose Chase, answer the following question and I'll mail / post a copy of the book out to you - anywhere in the world!
In the opening pages, Mark mistakingly translates the Irish phrase, "An Geadh-Glas" as 'Wild Goose'. What is the literal translation of this phrase?
The firs t person to correctly answer this question in it's entirety - wins! Go!