When I was a teenager I used to say “If I wasn’t religious, the movie theater would be my church.” Thirty years later I found myself sitting in my home made movie “chapel,” a shrine I created to filmdom that was adorned with posters and awards all honoring me. Not God.
Something had to change.
Something had been wrong for a while.
I started Sonlight Pictures because I felt that God called me to combine my passion for film and my passion for my faith and to use the company to give him glory. And that’s what we did.
During the past five years we’ve had numerous ups and downs, challenges and obstacles as well as successes and wonderful faith lessons. However, over the past two years, God’s timeline has been in direct conflict with my own. I was growing increasingly impatient with the delays and lack of movement on any number of projects we had put together at his guidance.
What was he waiting for?
If we’re not producing anything, why even keep the company open?
This weighed on me more and more each day and finally boiled over a few months ago. I had been trying to move ahead on some cover pictures for our new books series and the process felt like we were trying to swim upstream in a river of molasses.
I’d known that feeling before and it always signaled one thing… I wasn’t doing what God wanted.
When we’re on God’s path there is a feeling like the wind is at your back, like there’s an unseen momentum that is pushing you where you’re supposed to go. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t sharp curves and bumpy roads ahead, but you know, deep down, that you’re going in the right direction.
For the prior three months I had been trying to force the issue. To single-handedly move the company forward down a path I had deemed was correct. If God wasn’t going to point me where he wanted me to go, then I’d take out my machete and hack my way into the jungle myself.
Impatience, I have learned, is not an expression of faith.
I have also learned that, when God answers your prayers, he doesn’t need to repeat himself.
So, when, two years earlier, I prayed earnestly about the direction of the company and was given a response that we should continue on, God gave me the answer. Not an explanation.
He didn’t give me a timeline. He didn’t give me anything more than, “keep going.”
So, I kept going. Writing screenplays, working on songs for film projects and, now, writing novels based on our scripted TV series. None of it makes a lot of sense to me, but I did it anyway. I was being obedient, but was growing agitated at the journey. Where were we going? What’s the point? I felt we needed to do something to show the world we were making progress.
And that‘s when I left the path. That’s when things started to get hard. I was worried about showing the world of our behind-the-scenes achievements instead of showing God our continued obedience.
My frustration persisted unabated until the night I sat in my home-made movie room with a HD projector, recliner rockers, a built-in concession stand and a desk where I do most of my writing. It was in the middle of the night and I was having a crisis of faith.
I was mad and doubting and felt slighted.
As I sat in the room, stewing, I looked at the walls around me. On one wall were three large posters of our most successful projects.
Behind me where framed awards for various screenplays I had written and festival accolades from films I had made during my life. As I gazed at each and every achievement, they suddenly lost all value.
These were my achievements.
These were for my benefit.
This room was all about me.
So, one by one, I took down each award, each movie poster and each notice of praise, rolled them up or slid them in a folder and stored them in the closet.
For the first time since I converted this room into a mini-movie theater, the walls were barren. I wished I felt a sense of contentment at that point, or some sort of divine peace would have come over me, but not much had changed. The fear was still there. The frustration. The questions.
The next morning, my wife was shocked to find the walls empty. “Are we moving?” she asked, confused.
“Then why did you take everything down.”
I didn’t have a really good answer for her, not one I could effectively express at the time. So,I just shrugged.
It was Sunday, so that morning the family and I got dressed and headed to church. On the way home, my wife again challenged me as to why I removed all of my achievements. She was proud of the work I had done.
Finally, this faith crisis crystallized in my head and I said, “If God wants something on that wall, he’ll put it up there.”
“What does that mean?” she questioned.
“Sonlight Pictures is his company. I’m giving him the reigns again and all of the future projects will occur because of him, not me. It’s not about me. His projects belong on the wall, not my achievements. So, when he’s ready, he’ll give us something to put up there. Until then, they’ll remain blank.”
The same time the words came out of my mouth, did my faith struggle finally make sense. In a way that was painful to my core, God had purged my own pride out of the way, so he could use me the way he wanted, not the way I envisioned.
Now, when I sit in the room and look at the empty walls, I get excited.
I can’t wait to see what he’ll put up there first.