Let Your Heart Go Free Prologue – Jeremy Austill

I am going to begin with an
embarrassing reveal. This may cause some of you to close the book before you
ever really get going, but it’s worth the risk. I love the Hunger Games trilogy
of books. There, I said it. Yes, I am a late 30-something year old guy who has
read a teenage, dystopian soap opera of a series, not once, but probably 4
times. Before you judge me too severely, go ahead and remind yourself of that
thing you love that you would prefer the world never discover…

I mention the above to help
me relay a message that will aid you in receiving full value from this book. I
could take you to the last couple of chapters of the Hunger Games trilogy and have you read through the
content. In those closing pages you would receive much pertinent information.
You would know whom the heroine chose as the love of her life. You would know
who won the war. You would know what happened to the vast majority of the
central characters. From those 30-40 pages you could surmise a few details in
the plot and have a general idea of what took place over the preceding 800
pages. Yet, all the information you gather by reading the last chapter would
mean little to you emotionally. It would be a collection of facts, more
information for the life long database that is the mind. But you would not be
moved…you wouldn’t feel…the information would be hollow, lacking in weight and
substance because of a lack of context. Having information is nice, but it is
the journey to said information that gives it gravity in your life. It is journeying
with the narrative that makes the information matter on a deep enough level to
affect your existence. Information rarely changes a person. It is journey to and with information which changes one’s life.

Unfortunately, I feel at
times, the version of faith most often employed by modern believers is heavy on
information and low on journey. We have answers, memorized scriptures, quaint quips,
which we forget aren’t actually derived from the bible and we have a general
overview of what we are supposed to think and believe. We have a “fill in the
blank” rendition of religion which never quite satisfies on the level we know
it ought, because we devalue process in exchange for hurrying up to the end.
The information is hollow, lacking in resonance, unless we live within in it,
asking difficult questions and being content with what we deem insufficient
answers.

One of the great frailties
of the American education system is one of its foundational principles. The intellectual
development of a young person is deeply intertwined with the ability to give
the right answer on the test. Early on, a child learns the way to gain
affirmation and validation is to perform well on the test. Good grades are
connected to right answers and the compilation of enough correct answers over
an educational career allows one to graduate. Intimate understanding is
minimized in favor of “is this going to be on the test?” I can’t say that I
know a better way for our educational system to function. However, I can say
this overt emphasis on results through answers becomes thoroughly implanted in
our thinking and is not confined to our schooling. This is especially true in
the life of faith. Our ideas of discipleship gravitate toward learning what we
are supposed to think, reading a couple of books, and becoming acquainted with
the appropriate scripture for the situation. Jesus is a person who wants to
know and be known. Genuine, meaningful relationship can’t be rushed. I can know
the high school you attended, the job you have, the names of your kids and the
type of truck you drive but none of those tidbits of information indicate that
I actually know you. I can glean those facts by looking at your social media
profile. 

There is something beautiful
found in a secure, tenured relationship. A glance or a specific phrase pulls
the two together and draws them into a distant, shared memory. I can make a
statement in the presence of many, and my wife standing beside me hears it so
much differently than anyone else because we have over 20 years of context to
everything we say. I can tell a story from some past experience, others laugh
at the circumstances within the tale. She not only laughs with joy but also has
a tinge of sorrow for that time gone by, and a sense of fulfillment for all
that our life was at the time of the story. Information transcends facts and
answers when combined with journey.

I say all of the above so
you are aware; the coming pages are journey for me and the Lord. This is not a
textbook of material, but day-by-day revelation of my faith experience, and I
have written it as such. I have felt led of the Lord to use a template to
assist me in relaying my pilgrimage from a bound Christian (yes, a bound
Christian) to a man whose heart is growing increasingly free. Throughout the
duration of this book, John 1:1-18 will be the highway down which we will
progress. I will go ahead and tell you, the crescendo is found in John 1:12

“But to all who believed and accepted him, he gave
the right to become sons of God.”

I’m telling you this on the
front end…if you want, you can skip to the last couple of chapters and get the
basic information…but I promise, the journey will give it weight. Just like
your relationship with Jesus, you will get there when you get there. Why rush
off to the next answer? Enjoy the walk, you may see something that is even
better than what you find at the end of the road.

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