Part One of Two
The term “mixed blessings” is redundant. Why do I say that? Because all blessings—all real ones—are mixed. I only fully realized that this morning while contemplating the day I met the woman I was destined to marry.
More on that later, but first this.
It was the start of my career. I’d just come back from England. As a brand new theatre instructor, I’d wrangled an unbelievable summer gig teaching Shakespeare to American students alongside members of the Royal Shakespeare Company, including future “sirs” Patrick Stewart and Ben Kingsley. While I was there I fell half in love with a British nursing student and completely in love with England, so I couldn’t wait to return. As I was stitching together my plans, a friend handed me a phone number. A comedy trio famous in the Christian world, Isaac Air Freight, was looking for a new member. On a whim, I auditioned. And they said yes! But what about England? What about that adorable nurse?
So, I asked some friends to pray for me. The minute they said, “Amen,” a visitor handed me a slip of paper. “You’re the reason I’m here. God told me to give you this,” she said (I never saw her again). The slip said, “Behold, I have set before you an open door that no one can shut ” (Revelation 3:8). So, I joined Isaac Air Freight.
I toured with them for 4 years, appearing in videos and recording albums (5 studio recordings and 7 radio show compilations). That experience laid the groundwork for my entire career to come. So, why do I call it a mixed blessing?
In a word: relationships. We were oil and water. They were down-to-earth funny guys with an undying love for sports; and I was an artsy-fartsy type who’d just come back from teaching Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-freaking-Avon! The only thing we had in common was our love for God. We were oil-and-water. Which meant we had to constantly stir the pot to make the ingredients mix. But mix they did. Why? Because God, the mixed blessing specialist, had put us together.
Zoom forward to 2013: I was struggling to build a film production company, when I got called to audition for the lead in an independent film. For reasons I couldn’t fathom, I felt like I was “supposed” to do this, that it was “a God thing.” When I was offered a small 2-day role instead, I figured I’d been mistaken. But then, two days into filming, the producer halted shooting, insisting they’d made “a terrible mistake” in casting. One week later, filming resumed—with me in the lead! I was terrified, but exhilarated.
After production of Promises to Keep was completed, I assumed I’d go back to my original plans. But God had something else in mind. The producer who’d cast me in the lead pursued a friendship with me. Why? We were oil and water: he was more Catholic than the Pope, and I was a loosey-goosey Jesus-follower. We saw eye-to-eye on almost nothing. And yet…
The following year that producer greenlighted my first feature film as a writer-director. Why? Because God, the mixed blessing specialist, had put us together. So, who were we to say no? That feature film Over-the-Rhine has won 20 awards and nominations and is due for national release.
Now, about my marriage…
To read Part Two, click here.