Chasing the Wild Goose

st-brendan-the-navigatorSometimes, making decisions in the Christian walk can be excruciating. Should I go here? Should I do that? Would it be better for me to x or y? Would the Lord prefer me to be like this?

I suspect some of us overthink things to the point where we become powerless to do anything. Sometimes we “wait on the Lord” so intensely, we miss everything he seems to be telling us. We become frozen with inaction while we hesitate to march on. We are paralyzed by indecision.

The Wild Goose

I recently read of a group of Celtic Monks who were just the opposite. Their philosophy was to move ahead and expect the Holy Spirit to go before them and prepare the way. They fondly called the Holy Spirit the “Wild Goose.”

They lived on the small island of Iona off the coast of Scotland. They were fishermen, sailors, and missionaries. They survived raids by the Vikings.

It is said that they would get in boats and just sail. With no specific destination in mind, they would sail until they came to some land. Their assumption was that the Wild Goose would take them where they were supposed to be. When they landed, they would form a colony and do the work of missionaries. In so doing, introduced many to Jesus.

Since this occurred back in the fifth and sixth centuries A.D., Christianity was not as widespread as one might imagine. Apparently, they were quite successful in their exploits as they chased the iona1Wild Goose.

The most famous of these monks was Saint Brendan. Legend has it that he actually sailed as far as North America. He was gone for seven years and returned with amazing stories of this new land. And while many think this story is the stuff of myth and legends, his tale is still one of mystery and fascination.

Brendan is still fondly remembered to this day. The progressive rock group, Iona, recorded an entire album inspired by his voyage (Beyond These Shores). Its haunting instrumentation and lyrics have made it one of my favorites for many years (it was released in 1993).

A New Sense of Adventure

These stories and music have piqued my curiosity about this group that was so willing to be adventurous for their Lord. It has also caused me to think more and more about how entrenched we can become as we live such sedentary lives in a century when everything is so comfortable.

gooseAs I attempt to do things the Lord’s way, sometimes I wonder if we miss the adventures he has created for us because we’re too quick to pass up anything out of our norm. If a million other people haven’t done it before, we’re not willing to step out in faith to test the waters.

We like to speak of being filled with the Holy Spirit of God and going where he calls us to go. Still, we are petrified of going on a Wild Goose chase. Maybe we need a new sense of adventure.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]

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