Written by Rosemary Barnes, MAM Creative Writing Intern
“When you do a thing well, then you begin to think you are that thing; then when it is taken away – sometimes you can get lost.” Daryl Braden, MAM Area Director
Daryl Braden’s testimony is about God’s wonderful ability to reclaim, recover and restore “lost” things. As Braden moves deeper into his testimony, it becomes apparent quickly that the “lost thing” was himself.
One looks on with much incredulity as he tells his testimony. It is easy to envision this tall man effortlessly gliding down the basketball court, evading defenders and slamming one of his signature dunks into the basket to the roar of the fans in the background. The hard part comes while trying to see this present day man who speaks quietly, confidently and more than anything else, humbly, as the key player in the ordeals of the second part of his life after the professional basketball career had ended.
But this second half does belong to this same man, and he takes absolute ownership. There are no disclaimers, blaming, excuses or the like; it is the story of a man who has been schooled in the art of testifying to the saving grace and mercies of Jesus Christ. His genuine love, thankfulness and honor towards the Lord are very obvious. He makes it very clear that God alone gets the glory in his story.
1 Peter 5:10 is a good place to start states Braden, “This scripture depicts my testimony from the beginning to where I am right now. It says that – ‘After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace will personally come and strengthen you, settle you and establish you’ – and He has done all of that.” The first part of that verse, the suffering, falls into a category he calls “self-appointed trials.”
The trials begin after his retirement at forty from professional basketball in the U.S. and overseas. He states frankly that his success in the sport had birthed egotism, arrogance and an “all about me” attitude.
“I believe that sometimes in order to get our attention, God permits some things to happen in our lives so we can understand that He is the source of all things.”
He uses this as a backdrop to tell of his descent into homelessness, crime, a prison term, estrangement from his parents, etc. as a result of a crack cocaine addiction. The “little while” in the verse was a span of 10 years in this cycle. He relates these times in his life like a man who is not in the throes of shame, bitterness or unhealthy regret, but as a mature Christian who understands that God can use his transparency to speak to those who as the Apostle Paul says have been delivered, are being delivered and will be delivered out of captivity.