Falling Free by Shannan Martin releases on 9/20! Click here to pre-order your copy today!
In my opinion, one measure of a non-fiction book’s quality is the extent to which it prompts me to examine my own life. (Actually, more and more I notice that I evaluate fiction books on this spectrum, too.) Earlier this year, I read and reviewed a book that made me reconsider how I plan my days, weeks, and even my year. It helped me to grab hold of a better understanding of efficiency as it relates to life priorities. That was a good book.
Shannan Marten’s Falling Free is also a good book, especially in terms of heart-level examination.
As my eyes moved from page to page, I found my soul praying for the Lord to search my heart…to know me (which, of course, He does) …to show me the ways in which I need to change how I live and love for Him. Because Falling Free is the catalyst for discussions that bring real soul and heart care (and hopefully change), it is the best kind of book.
Since I finished reading Falling Free, it has served as the impetus for deliberation in the following ways.
1. I have begun to reevaluate my priorities in living for Jesus.
This isn’t to say that my priorities will necessarily change drastically or even right away. As Shannan says, not everyone is called to her specific type of ministry, and right now, my sphere of ministry seems straightforward. Being a pastor’s wife and classroom teacher, the stage is pretty set. But the Lord has been pinging around some ideas in my heart for a while now, and Shannan’s words have simply watered the soil around the seeds that were already planted.
As this school year took root at the end of August, I found that Falling Free had changed my heart even with regard to teaching. I teach sixth grade, and if there is ever there is a place that drives you to your knees, it is a middle school classroom, friends. These kids are at a crossroad, and I’ve been given this delicate gift of speaking into their little hearts for the next nine months. Though this doesn’t really tie into the dramatic lifestyle-change Shannan writes about, it definitely is parallel to her words about pouring yourself out for others to show them the love of Jesus. Through my words and actions, I can show these children Jesus for 138 days. Let it be so!
2. I am considering my generosity as regards my time, talent, and treasure.
Sometimes I wish we could just empty our bank account and live in one of those tiny houses with food, books, and our pug. When I think of what a difference that could make, how we could give . . . my heart is stirred. And I always find joy when I get an opportunity to exercise one of my God-given gifts. But you know when I start to feel the squeeze? When using those talents starts to encroach on the time I’ve so carefully allotted for specific activities, it pinches a little. I’m pretty introverted. In truth, at the end of most school days, I prefer to have “carefully allotted” my time to read and drink a cup of tea. But Shannan has reminded me that my time isn’t actually my time at all, and my way isn’t necessarily the best way either. Now it’s time to eagle-eye how I spend my time and to decide how I could spend it more wisely for the kingdom of God. (Not that reading is sinful . . . but I really love to read and it can definitely distract me from kingdom causes.)
3. I am challenging my own ideas and expectations about community.
Above many other things, I value authenticity and transparency (as is fitting for the relationship) in community. But, add to my introversion some painful events from my past, and you have a girl who needs to think once again about what community really means. I’m still percolating on this one, and it might spur a separate post in the future. But for now, as Forrest Gump says, “That’s all I have to say about that.”
The bottom line is this: If a book can make me start to ponder these things of consequence, I will recommend it to anyone who will listen. Such is the case with Shannan Martin’s Falling Free. Get it. Read it. Let the truths learned through her experience percolate in your mind, take root in your heart, and change your perspective for the better.
Soli Deo gloria,
In exchange for my honest opinion, I received an ARC of Falling Free from the publisher.