Getting real

30 Mar

This has been without a doubt one of the most challenging experiences of my life.

Class started Friday afternoon, but my journey started as far back as March.  Last week I left my home in the hands of a stranger, left my constant canine companion behind, said lots of goodbyes, and all alone, got in the car and pointed it west.

After a 10 hour drive I arrived in Gallup, New Mexico, for the first night.  Another four hour drive got me to the Grand Canyon, packed with visitors, so enormous there was no way I could see more than a tiny slice in 16 hours.  The third day’s desert drive was one of the most unpleasant and unsafe feeling drives I’ve ever made.

Fear knawed at me — I had little sleep and many nightmares before I left.  Though I was more relaxed after my first night in L.A., I was completely wound up again before I arrived at the opening retreat.  Terrified at the thought of failing, not being good enough, not having heard God right, doing everything wrong, not wanting anyone to find out what a fraud I am as a person or writer, you name it.  Hollywood is a hard town, screenwriting is a tough business, so what was I thinking?  I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been so scared in my whole life.  The fear was like a hot torment.

But today is a completely different day than yesterday.

On Friday night, the first night of the program, God reminded me of something during worship.  He reminded me that He had been the one to both call and gift me.  And He reminded me that my being so afraid was in reality not trusting Him with His calling or gift.  God did not bring me here to torment or drop me.  Nope.  His Word says He never leaves me nor forsakes me.  He is a good God who gives good gifts to His children.  I don’t deserve any of it, but that doesn’t change who He is, His motives or actions.

The next morning I awoke to find myself shaking a stern finger at God saying, “Now don’t you forget, God, apart from you this task is impossible.  If you don’t do this, it’s not getting done.”  Within a couple of hours I was having my chaplain meeting with the author of our screenwriters devotional I’d been working on over the summer.  I just started spilling and couldn’t seem to stop, shaking like an addict.

His words, and the gift of my fellow writers, were a healing balm.  He reminded me of how God led the Israelites through the wilderness.  He reminded me of Ephesians 2:10 which says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  This means that all I have to do, every writing task ahead of me God knew about before and has already prepared for me…all I have to do is move into it.  Then he reminded me of the overzealous believers in Acts — that if it was from God, nothing would be able to stop or overcome it.

The fear left, and the peace of God has reigned in its place.  You have no idea the humility I feel being here with these amazingly (understatement) talented writers.  I am truly not worthy, but for some reason, God has called me to write and given me a passion for speaking His message through the medium of movies.  I am acutely aware at every moment that apart from God I cannot accomplish any of this.

I am also acutely aware of the amazing people who are involved in this with me.  The amazing friends who cheered me on to come and inspired me to reach for something I could never dare to hope for for myself.  And the amazing caliber of human beings who have come to participate in Act One with me.  I cannot express how impressed I am with their genuineness, their capacity, and their passion for this calling.  It’s just kind of like being in heaven when I am around them.

And it’s a good thing, too, because without each other we would die a slow and painful death in the trenches of Hollywood.

I hope that you will not only continue to pray for my journey here, but also for the Christians who have given their lives to work in those trenches.  You may not ever know who they are or where they work or see any visible difference on a tv show because of them, but you can be very certain that they are out there nonetheless.  They are working alongside people who tear them down daily — and those broken and lost people are the whole reason they are there.  Media cannot change without Christ.  Christ will not change media without us.  We have the stories that they need to hear. We have what their hungry hearts yearn for.

I hope this helps to give you a better picture of what I’ve been going through and that it helps you somehow wherever you are.  God does not give up on us; He never gives up on people He loved enough to die for.

(Cross-posted at Tumblr on July 14, 2009.)

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