I can't stop saying it. Falling Free is the best contemporary Christian book I've read. If you know me at all, you know that that is saying something. The only book I've ever rated "two thumbs up" in book club is my favorite book of all time (East of Eden). While I enjoy most reads, the deepest recesses in my heart hold very few slots for "best book ever". It is a sacred title that I dare not give to many.
I have to admit, I'm a bit skeptical of Christian books these days. Most read more like a therapy self-help book than a dig-deep-change-your-life book. Because of that, I am hesitant to pick up the newest and the latest. If I'm honest, I'd rather spend my time hunkering down with a bit of C.S. Lewis or Timothy Keller. But, after I started following Shannan Martin on Instagram, I finally was pulled in, and she did not disappoint.
Falling Free is an account of a story about a family who decided to swim against the mainstream current and seemingly ruin their lives for the kingdom. Shannan paints a picture of the American Christian dream- big beautiful farm house, (adopted) kids frolicking, wise monetary decision making (leaving bank accounts stocked for the future), tithing 10%, living comfortable lives loving Jesus. Until the Spirit came in and said "no more".
The pages of this book echoed the words of my heart- it is not enough to slap a bible verse on our decisions and call it Christian living.
Shannan hit all the nails that had been hovering above my heart over the past few years, waiting to be hammered in- intentional living in a diverse (aka "inner city") neighborhood? Check. Adoption? Check. Opening up our home in radical hospitality? Check. Living frugally with un-clenched fists on our savings? Check. Living counter-culturally in every area of life? Check, check, check.
Our tendency is to live safe, comfortable lives. That desire in it of itself is not inherently evil, more than it is incredibly human. But safety is not preached in the red letters. Jesus explicitly states that following him is far from comfortable. And Falling Free is an account of one family deciding that all in Kingdom living was better than one foot straddled in each worlds.
Shannan paints a picture of what it looks like to give up her dream life to move to the inner city parts, to engage intentionally with neighbors, to empty out bank accounts (on purpose), to live small, and to notice the beauty in the brokenness. And the best part is- she is just an everyday average human being who decided that following Jesus might be different than following her own dreams. And that is what is most encouraging in the words found between two green covers: it doesn't take an extraordinary person to give all. It just takes a selfish, broken, scared, doubting, desperate-for Jesus human being to say yes.
Falling Free left me wrestling through thoughts that were planted years ago.
Why is it accepted to let Jesus into some parts of our lives but not others?
Why is adoption plan B in the church and not plan A?
Why do we first make decisions based off of what is "best" (aka comfortable) and then invite Jesus to fill in the gaps?
Do we preach "self care" as an excuse to live selfishly?
Why does the church OK some sins (ahem, control) and not others?
What does it look like to truly turn our palms up in surrender?
Through hilarious wit, in a way that leaves you feeling convicted, yet not condemned, Shannan tells her story of pressing in to the Kingdom of God here and now, with an invitation to those who are thirsty.
Trust me. It's a good one.
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