Chasing the Wrong Goose

easter-egg-575702_640Sometimes I am all wet.

I’ve always been skittish around boats and water. I’m not a confident swimmer so that contributes to my nerves. I’ve also always felt awkward and clumsy unlike more graceful, petite friends, so the resulting self-consciousness makes me a serious water hazard.

You’ve seen me, or someone like me, trying to board a boat. We take one hesitant step onto the deck while trying to keep the other foot planted firmly on the dock. The split followed by the splash is as ugly as it is predictable. In these situations, there aren’t points for trying. One must commit either to the ship or to the dock. Indecision winds us up in the drink.

So, it is with matters of faith. What shipwrecks us is not our beliefs nor our failures to believe but almost always, it’s our near-beliefs that leave us all wet. Which is why I’m embarking on a wild goose chase.

In writing my newest book, Jesus and the Beanstalk (releasing September 2016), I used the first half of the Jack and the Beanstalk story to talk about the spiritual growth described in 2 Peter 1:1-10. I believe Jesus is the vine (Jack’s beanstalk) and that by climbing the vine, we, like Jack, learned to topple the giants in our lives.

Since completing the book, I’ve been thinking about how easy it was for Jack to become distracted by the giant’s wealth. How tempting it was for him to become like the giant by stealing the goose that laid the golden eggs and eventually sacrificing the vine for the gold.

How easily am I tempted to see Jesus as a means to an end – not the vine to which I cling but the stalk I climb to achieve a measure of greatness in this world! How often as I cling to my vine do I watch the giants of this world with envy, wanting to topple them, not only so they can be defeated, but secretly so I can take their place?

The early Christians in Celtic lands referred to the Holy Spirit as the Wild Goose. I’ve come to see that too often, I find myself chasing the wrong goose.goose-348084_640

I struggle with near-beliefs about money and God’s provision. I nearly believe God will provide all I need. I nearly believe one can only serve God or mammon. I nearly believe God, who did not withhold His only Son, will withhold no good thing. I nearly believe I am not to worry about tomorrow – what I should eat or drink. I nearly believe God is my portion but then – something shiny catches my eye and I’m off running and it takes me too long to notice the absence of the only Goose worth following.

I know the scriptures about worldly riches and I love God but sometimes I find myself loving the security and comforts the world has to offer, too. Not mansions or yachts but basics like electricity and working cars. I’ve learned one doesn’t have to have a lot of money to become a lover of money. I understand George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life” when he encounters Clarence the angel, sent to help him, for the first time:

“George Bailey: I know one way you can help me. You don’t happen to have 8,000 bucks on you?

Clarence: No, we don’t use money in Heaven.

George Bailey: Well, it comes in real handy down here, bud!”

When I realized my struggle anew, I started searching for scriptures on money but the Lord took me in a different direction. You see, He knows my heart. In seeking the scriptures for directions on how to relate to money, I was doing it hoping to secure money. I was climbing the vine in order to attain the golden goose. (Now, others who search the scriptures about money have better motives, I’m sure, but I did not.) Of course, I want to honor God but at the end of my obedience, too often I’m hoping there’s a pot of gold. In focusing on the world, sometimes I forget that Jesus isn’t a leprechaun there to grant my wishes. He is the gold.

What I suspect is that all of scripture speaks to this struggle with chasing the wrong goose. It’s not about money, really, it’s about whether or not I trust God to provide and if I will be satisfied with what He provides. It’s whether I’m seeking Him and killing giants for His glory or if I’m trying to use Him to defeat the giants so I can take their place in this world. (I wonder if others struggle with this, too?)

In watching the current political debates, we see one candidate who exhibits a sense of great freedom and security because of his great wealth. God’s Word says we are free in Jesus. We are secure in Christ. Too often we imagine that in following Christ, He will lead us to the earthly tools we need for freedom and security when in fact, we already have it in Him. We just need to keep our eyes on the right Goose.

My plan is to read scripture, beginning in Genesis, and ask in each chapter what God is saying, revealing, teaching about why we must commit to either the deck of His ship or the dock of this world’s wealth. How even in poverty and financial want, we have all we need in Jesus. How even if we are enslaved and oppressed in this world, we are free in Jesus.

I’m sure there will be blog posts coming from my chase but if you’re interested in following along, I invite you inside my process. I’m taking notes as I do my reading and praying and I’ll post these notes HERE. Click if you’re interested and comment if you will. I’m being transparent here and hope you’ll respect that. I invite you to a conversation about what God says regarding our pursuit of Him verses a pursuit of what the world says is important to obtain. I’m not so much seeking to teach as to learn.

How about you? Do you sometimes end up in the drink because of a “near-belief?” Do you sometimes find yourself chasing the wrong goose? Join me this year as I go on my wild goose chase and seek the freedom that is only found in Christ.

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    The Conversation

  1. paula says:

    “It’s not about money, really, it’s about whether or not I trust God to provide and if I will be satisfied with what He provides.”

    I trust (or thought I did until you started with the “near-beliefs”), no – I do. Believe. But really, really need to learn to “be satisfied with what He provides.”

    Looking forward to the chase with you!

  2. As my husband begins to slow down (as a 70-year-old roofer, it’s time), I need to guard against worrying about other changes that will surely follow. God is our provider. I need to follow and trust Him. I’d love to tag along with you.