Today we're talking with J. Bronson Haley, author of The Depth of Grace: Finding Hope at Rock Bottom
FQ: As a reader, I wonder what the goal was behind telling your story? Such as, was it a way to free yourself from the past; or was the focus more on offering others out there a look at what can happen if they try?
One reason I wrote this book was indeed to secure my own freedom. ďAnd they overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimonyÖĒ (Revelation 12:11). Iíve learned that if we are willing to tell people what Jesus does in our lives, that He will give us plenty to talk about. An additional reason I wrote this book was to give people an uncensored version of what these stories can actually look like aside from any religious influence. The reason I took this approach was because the world is full of more hurting people today than ever. Kids are doing things that people even 50 years ago would not have been able to imagine. These kids and people in general need hope. Everyone needs to know that they have not fallen beyond the boundaries of recovery and redemption, no matter the details of their story. I havenít spoken to a single person about this book that didnít either feel they needed to read it or that someone they know needs it. Itís this truth that gave me the motivation to complete this project. Finding a book like this in my most lonely, darkest hours would have helped me. I would have appreciated this story.
FQ: Addiction of every kind runs rampant in this world; how would you recommend a person first start to seek help?
Doctors can help. Itís true and they do every day. Therapy brings with it an environment where confession is welcome and healing often spawns when we communicate in an act of humility. Doctors can also prescribe medication that can help in ways, but I personally feel medication is a temporary fix that only dulls the pain, which is the reason for indulgence in the first place. Jesus is our comforter and great physician. This is one reason He was sentóto destroy addiction. When Jesus was hung on the cross He was offered a drink of gall. Gall was a soured wine laced with a substance derived from a berry producing plant often attributed to the poppy plant. Poppy seeds in their green form, only just beginning to bloom, are the source for opium, which is a key component for any strong pain killer. When Jesus was suffering on the cross He was offered a drink that would have dulled His pain in the same way an opiate dulled my pain. Jesus didnít need this narcotic because He knew what the Father had in store for Him. Jesus was made perfect through His sufferings (Hebrews 2:10). It was through His sufferings that Salvation, Healing, and every good thing could be passed on to us. Jesus refused that drink so that we might not be robbed of His Glory. His Glory is what manifests in us in our times of healing and deliverance. We do not need narcotics. Jesus confronted this temptation while in His most painful and vulnerable moments. Jesus sealed our freedom from addiction in this act of obedience. Praise God
FQ: The road you took from your childhood to Jesus was long; are you able with His help to release the regrets, guilt, etc. - or are there times where an old pain or heartbreak reappears? And if it does, is the solution to the feelings the Son?
Jesus certainly deals with the shame, regret, guilt and every other byproduct of a sinful and reckless life. He took it all to the cross and when He mentioned on the cross that it was finished, He meant it. At the same time as we read the bible we begin to fully understand that spiritual warfare is very much alive and real. Often times the enemy will remind us of our past and even specific incidents where we have hurt others. For me it was easier to deal with the pain I caused myself than the pain I caused others. What we need to keep in mind is that our testimony brings Glory to Jesus. Those who have known us in our past and those we have hurt often watch us closely through this transition and they themselves often hope that whatís happening in us is true so that they might believe themselves. This is our testimony to the world so that the world might have hope. The solution is the Son and only He can destroy the works of the enemy.
FQ: Would you like to go back to any of your locations in the past and speak with the people there? Perhaps counsel others who are in dire need of understanding - such as in prisons or even Boys and Girls Clubs of America?
One thing the book does is allow me to take people in my past on this journeyómy journey to freedom. My reputation was so bad and ďloudĒ that literally thousands of people in my hometown were very familiar with me. There is no question that many of the people that witnessed the details I have shared in The Depth of Grace have read and finally understood my perspective and the struggle within. It was truly part of my intention to reach out to the people Iíd been in contact with through the roughest and toughest years of my life and shed some light on what was actually going on with me during those times and to send a message that I found hope in Jesus. I also feel God has called me to prison ministry. Iíve learned that there is a time and season for everything under the sun (Ecclesiastes 3). I feel that when the timing is right, God will bring me to a platform where I will share this story with people from all walks of life.
FQ: I have to say I was truly touched and sometimes amazed at the depth of knowledge you have of the Bible. Are there any specific words or phrases that stand out to you? Do you have any particular pslams that you love?
Absolutely!! One of my favorite, and most comforting passages in the bible takes place in the Garden of Eden just after man fell into sin. Has anyone ever noticed in the bible when Adam and Eve fell into sin that God first cursed the devil and sent the "enmity" (which was Jesus) to crush his head (see Genesis 3)? Before God even spoke to man about his sin, He swatted Satan and sent Jesus. Before we can even fully understand our sin and the magnitude of our failures our redeemer has been given His assignment. When we find ourselves in situations where we have made mistakes and are wondering what God thinks and are trying to determine how and sometimes if we can overcome, we should be comforted knowing that in that moment God has already addressed Satan and sent Jesus. At that point, He is already on His way! His instructions are to restore and rebuild Godís children into the likeness of our Lord Jesus Himself! He will never give up on us! God will be faithful because He cannot deny himself! 2 Timothy 2:13
My favorite Psalm is 103:20: ďBless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.Ē This scripture gives more insight into spiritual warfare than most people know. As Christians we have become the voice of Godís word. ďWe are therefore Christís ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through usÖ..Ē (2 Corinthians 5:20) Now notice in Psalms 103:20 that the author mentions the angels, which engage in spiritual warfare on our behalf, excel in strength in response to the voice of His Word, which we have become as His children. If we truly come to understand this passage we can see how important it is to bury ourselves in His Word. His words are our weapons of war. The more we know the more we can strengthen our heavenly soldiers to gain victory in Kingdom affairs. This also includes our own freedom and the freedom of our loved ones and friends.
FQ: If you could pick a certain day to go back in time to that street fighter, what day would that be? And what would you say?
I would go back to the day I fought the professional kickboxer outside of the Phillin Station Bar on the streets of my hometown, Shreveport Louisiana. In the book I go into detail about what kind of man he was. I donít paint a very good picture of him because he was a man that used his training to fight people on the streets and I had little respect for him and almost killed him in the fight. A year later he was arrested for murder. He put 11 holes in a man in his own front yard. If I had a chance I would go back to the day we fought and talk to him. It wasnít long after he was arrested that he gave his life to Christ. I wish it could have happened sooner. Today a man is dead and the kickboxer is doing hard labor in Angola State Penitentiary. If I could, I would go back and do what I could to prevent that from happening.
FQ: I know this was a truly personal journey and I thank you for sharing it with readers. Itís a true source of help. - Amy