THE DESCENT INTO HELL IS NOT ALWAYS VERTICAL…
Sam Hudson, a reputable San Diego attorney, learns this when the authorities wrongfully convict him of the brutal rape and murder of his wife and daughter, and sends him to death row. There he awaits execution by lethal injection.
If he survives that long.
In prison, Sam fights for his life while his attorney works frantically on his appeal. It is then that he embraces the faith of his departed wife and begins to manifest supernatural abilities. Abilities which help him save lives– his own, those of his unlikely allies–and uncover the true killer’s identity, unlocking the door to his exoneration.
Now a free man, Sam’s newfound faith confronts him with the most insurmountable challenge yet. A challenge beyond vengeance, beyond rage, beyond anything Sam believes himself capable of: to forgive the very man who murdered his family, according to his faith. But this endeavor reveals darker secrets than either Sam or the killer could ever have imagined. Secrets that hurtle them into a fateful collision course.
Beyond Justice, a tale of loss, redemption, and the power of faith.
Faith and the Supernatural by Joshua Graham
I’ve been asked to speak about how I combined faith and the supernatural into my novel Beyond Justice. It’s an interesting topic for me because I don’t view the two as mutually exclusive topics. Quite the contrary.
Now, I might get into hot water with some members to the religious community who believe that religion is based solely on rituals, human intellectual understanding, or social action/justice. While I see the value on all those elements, for me, faith is much more than that.
Someone once told me, “Faith is a verb.” That’s a catchy phrase, but it is true. Faith is not what you profess. It’s not what you say you believe. It’s not even what you feel or think you believe. Faith is the hope for things of which you don’t have physical evidence AND are willing to take action towards.
Prayer and faith go hand in hand. Here’s an example my father, a great evangelist and preacher, once taught me: If you pray to God for rain, and don’t walk outside with an umbrella, then you don’t really have faith. Faith goes hand in hand with action. The Bible says, “…faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
The supernatural and faith go hand in hand. I have witnessed many miracles in my life and the lives of others. What most consider “supernatural” really isn’t that esoteric, if seen through the eyes of faith. Some of the supernatural elements in Beyond Justice include visions, words of knowledge, spiritual warfare, and prophecy.
It stands to reason that if one believes in God, and as a Christian believes in Jesus, then they must also believe in God’s omnipotence—He can do anything, and cause anything to happen to and through people. The scriptures clearly talk about spiritual gifts which are given to believers. The only purpose for these gifts is to build people up and help them.
Jenn Hudson, a character in Beyond Justice said, “Miracles are happening every day, if you know how to spot them.” It’s really true. Some of them are great, some are small. There are healings, prophetic messages that warn, that encourage and bring emotional healing in miraculous ways. But the biggest miracle is the changing of the human heart.
I don’t compartmentalize my faith. It’s not like I go to church on Sunday and act one way, and then act completely different on other days. People who know me, know that I strive to honor God and follow the teachings of Jesus. I don’t push my beliefs on others, but I’m not shy about sharing my faith either, if they are interested. So writing a book with a supernatural journey for my protagonist came very naturally to me.
That said, I’m glad that various reviews have said that Beyond Justice, while having strong spiritual themes, does not come across as preaching. That’s my goal in writing as it is in life. I would like to honestly present a sincere perspective of spirituality for my reader to consider, but let them draw their own conclusions. Everyone was created with free will to choose what they believe. I just want to give them a chance to look at something they might not otherwise have cared to examine, without any pressure or sense of obligation.
Here are two spiritual insights that I received over the past seven years that have found their way into Beyond Justice.
When my mother passed away, the pain of losing her was deep. She had been my number one fan in life, always spoke life to me, always loved me unconditionally, and was always kind and loving. Losing her was so difficult. I knew I would see her in Heaven one day, but it felt like it would be such a long time to wait. Then, a quiet voice whispered not in my ear, but in my spirit:
It’ll be like waking up from a dream.
I knew this wasn’t my own inner thoughts. They were definitely from above. As I contemplated it, I understood. When we dream, the actual REM state is very short, measured in minutes. But during the dream, we can be there for what seems like hours, days, even a lifetime. As soon as we wake up, the dream is over. We are awake, and the dream which felt so real instantly becomes a fleeting memory that dissipates like a vapor in the wind.
Now, if we are asleep for about 6-8 hours, and all that you dreamed suddenly vanishes into a distant memory, how much more so will it be when we enter ETERNITY? Compare the difference of 8 hours asleep vs. 16 hours awake with 75 some years vs. Infinity. When we enter heaven and eternity, our entire mortal life will be even more vaporous than our dreams which happen over the course of a few minutes of REM sleep. You think life feels so real now? Imagine how it will be like in Eternity.
This is why the scriptures say, “O Death, where is thy sting?”
I was given this insight and it has given me hope in Christ that I will be reunited with my loved ones who passed away. This mortal life will suddenly become a distant memory, a dream. On that day, I know we’ll smile when we sing “Life was but a dream.”
The second insight came during a time when a couple of friends of mine’s two month old baby daughter Charlotte was dying of a brain tumor. We prayed and prayed for her to be miraculously healed, but in the end, she passed away. I remember that night, when I got the phone call that she had passed, I went up to my room and wept. I prayed asking God why he hadn’t healed Charlotte as He had healed others.
The answer came in the form of a vision. I saw a beautiful verdant meadow, a sparkling stream, and on the other side, Jesus Christ in a glowing white robe. He was holding the hand of a lovely young girl about six years old. I knew right away I was looking at Charlotte, her body completely healed and restored, beautiful and whole. I knew in my spirit that where she was, things were so much more real and better, and I was existing in a place that is temporary by comparison. My tears turned to joy. I thought, “that really is the better place.” And baby Charlotte’s little excursion to Earth was just long enough to encourage us, and point us to where we all can be one day, if we believe.
These two glimpses into eternity have changed my life. They have given me hope beyond all circumstances in life. It was so wonderful I had to incorporate them into my book and share. I realize in sharing this, some readers might think twice about reading Beyond Justice, but I promise you, it’s not a bunch of Bible-thumping preaching. It’s a sincere sharing of my life and faith in the form of a story, or a parable, if you will.
Miracles, healings, prophetic words, visions and dreams do happen all the time. We were created as spiritual beings. Some of us just don’t realize it yet.
Publishers Weekly described Beyond Justice as:
“…A riveting legal thriller…. breaking new ground with a vengeance… demonically entertaining and surprisingly inspiring.”
“This book was so much more than a mystery novel; it was an exercise in faith, understanding, joy and mercy in their purest forms.”
“…twists, turns and surprises to be found here.”
“…filled with so much in the way of emotion.”
“…Take the time to read this book. You will not be disappointed.”
Under other pen names, Joshua has been published in three Pocket Book anthologies. Joshua’s short fiction works have been also been published by Dawn Treader Press.
He's a graduate of the Oregon Professional Writers Masterclass run by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.
Joshua grew up in Brooklyn, NY where he lived for the better part of 30 years. He holds a Bachelor and Master’s Degree from Juilliard and a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University.
You can visit his website at http://www.joshua-graham.com/ connect with him on facebook at www.facebook.com/j0shuagraham or twitter at www.twitter.com/j0shuagraham.