Reviewing the “Wild Goose Chase” (pt. 1)

Wild Goose Chase (pt. 1)

bookcoverI received my copies of Mark Batterson’s  Wild Goose Chase a few days ago. My schedule prevents me from reading it through in just a couple of sittings, so I plan to post a multi-part review in order to be as comprehensive and “fresh” as I possibly can with my opinion and reflections of the book.

First impressions: I was fearful after just the first couple pages that this was going to be another “Great Adventure” book in the same flavor of Sacred Romance, Waking the Dead, or Your God is too Safe. Don’t get me wrong, those are all great books (and I love the authors), but out of the blocks I was beginning to think “oh no…I’ve chased this goose before.” My thinking changed very quickly although the first couple of chapters were familiar territory for me. The theme of “Yawning Angels” and “Goose Bumps” (chapters one and two) involves boredom, complacency, apathy (maybe), and passion…God-sized passion. I don’t want to put out anything that would be construed as a spoiler in my review, so I’ll try not to get too detailed especially since I recommend you reading it in its entirety for yourself. Also, be advised that Mark is posting excerpts on his blog where you can download these for your own “taste tests.” Anyway, back to my review…

The first few pages of chapter one had me yawning as the title suggested; by page 10 I was hooked and the chase was on. I don’t know if my interpretation is incorrect or if it is simply filtered through my own journey, but in the first chapter it seems as though Batterson prefaces “the Chase” with a call to count the cost. Subtitles inside this short and challenging chapter include words like caged, dangerously, and adventure. Mark does a good job (IMO) teasing the reader into joining the chase by closing the first chapter with brief snapshots of what lies ahead for the goose hunter. He identifies six cages that “keep us from roaming free with the Wild Goose and living the spiritual adventure God destined us to” (pg 11). As I said in the beginning of this paragraph, at this point of my reading, my appetite was whetted and my interest was piqued…on with “The Chase;” let the journey begin!

Goose Bumps, the title for chapter two, describes and discusses the first of the six cages that Batterson speaks of which  can cripple and/or kill the Wild Goose Chase. This first cage is the cage of responsibility. My personality is often described by others as “intense” and I freely admit that I am a Type A10 (that’s a type “A” to the tenth power), so I really connected with chapter two. Goose Bumps is about passion. The chapter is prefaced with a quote by St. John of the Cross; “The soul lives by that which it loves,” to which I respond with a hearty AMEN. The chapter only picked up the pace from that point on as Mark raised the stakes even higher when he “anted up” this comment; “We are called to follow in His (Jesus) footsteps. Christ followers ought to be the most passionate people on the planet” (pg 17). This chapter is full of thought-provoking points as well as inspiration. It might also prove to be quite the challenge for the veteran churchling who has spent most of their “christian life” (lower-case intended) explaining away the “Follow Me-Self Sacrificing” call of Jesus. Check out the sound these “gauntlets” make as they hit the ground:

  • “You don’t need to pray about whether you should bless someone when it is within your power to do so. God has already spoken. What you need to do is quit praying and start acting.”
  • “One of the great mistakes we make is asking God to do for us what God wants us to do for Him.”
  • “God won’t do for us what we can do for ourselves. And that is where so many of us get stuck spiritually.”

I need to add that Mr. Batterson qualifies the above statements with the following comment; “Please don’t misinterpret what I’m trying to say. Pray about everything. Then pray some more. But at some point, you need to quit praying and start acting” (pg 28) 

One last quote from this chapter that left me with goose bumps; this is an example of the sage wisdom that you’ll find throughout this book. Closing an illustration from the life of Nehemiah, Mark writes; “Sometimes when we read the stories of biblical characters, we underestimate how long it took for them to accomplish what they accomplished. And we underestimate how hard it was. We can read their stories in a matter of minutes, so we tend to overlook the fact that. In most instances, their passions were unpursued or unfulfilled for years on end. In my experience, the Wild Goose doesn’t take shortcuts. He loves leading us down the scenic route because that is where we learn our most valuable lessons” (pg 38). Yeah.

Chapter three, Dictatorship of the Ordinary, describes the second cage or The Cage of Routine. I don’t know how it can happen, but I see it happen every day; people becoming bored, complacent, and apathetic in and/or with their relationship with God. Several observations highlighted in this chapter helped me to be more understanding. I’m sure my thinking is now tempered in such a way that I will be more responsive to help people overcome the cage of routine rather than be critical and judgmental of them. I mentioned several observations, one of which was a “call to remember” (pg 48). A few years ago I wrote a teaching piece that was the result of a study on God’s methods of helping us to remember His works in our life. The mere fact that this was brought to my recall served as a “reminder” of our need to be intentional in our remembering. Remembering helps us to wake up from the cage of routine. Another observation was the reminder to be aware of the potential for burn-out; “I know from experience that you can do the work of God at a pace that destroys the work of God in you… I think it’s even more difficult, for those of us with Type-A personalities, to slow down when God wants us to be still” (pp 53-55). A third observation, and there were several more, was a section that Batterson wrote subtitled “Heuristic Bias.” This was some really good stuff and it reminded me a teaching series that he preached a couple years ago called The Neurology of Faith. I don’t know if some of these thoughts came from that series, but I was reminded of it nonetheless. Really Good stuff…really.

I’m loving The Chase, and looking forward to sharing the second part of my review in the next day or so. In the meantime, you might want to go ahead and place your copy on order from your favorite bookstore, or here. Chase the Goose!

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