My first feature film as a writer-director, Healing River, in production.
“This is what the LORD God says, ‘In returning and rest shall you be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.’ But you would not.” ~Isaiah 30:15
Nearly 20 years ago, I received Isaiah 30:15-18 as a promise from God. I don’t usually “claim” promises from God (like never). But I felt deeply impressed that this was real.
I assumed the last line (“but you would not”) didn’t apply to me. And verses 16 through 18 were about the Israelites to whom the promise was originally given. I was a seasoned Jesus follower, so, unlike the Israelites who tried to fulfill the promise themselves, I knew I wouldn’t do that.
As a part of the promise, my wife and I felt called to make movies. So I secured a day-job teaching filmmaking, and she became the production coordinator at an animation and special effects company.
Then the teaching gig ended. And the movie deals, almost miraculously, fell apart:
- A mega-studio held-off sending my contract for a “sold” movie project, and then produced it without me.
- A film financier’s marriage collapsed (cheating and guns were involved) hours before he was supposed to transfer the money for our upcoming production.
- A division of Warner Bros went broke just before they were supposed to begin work on their next feature film–my project.
- And an executive at 20th Century Fox suddenly kaboshed a movie I’d pitched after the production division had already said yes.
I pushed harder. And harder. Desperately trying to fulfill God’s promise. True, I’d sensed from the start that the promise was about more than just making movies; it was about becoming the person I needed to be, and that others needed me to be.
Finally, the money ran out. So we quit the movie biz and moved to Ohio, where I served at a church for four years. Then one day I revisited that Isaiah passage, the part I figured hadn’t applied to me:
“But you would not, ‘No, you said, ‘We will flee on horses.’ And therefore, you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore, your pursuers will be swifter! You will flee until you are left (unprotected and exposed) like a flag on a mountaintop.’ But the LORD (still) longs to be gracious to you (to fulfill His promise).”
And then it struck me: The passage begins with a challenge, not to amass “horses” and armies, but to “return and rest.” Not to frantically wage war and “win,” but to find strength (the fulfillment of the promise) “in quietness and confidence.”
Like the Israelites, I’d never fulfilled my role.
So, without expecting ever to make movies again, I entered a time of renewal, of returning and resting, of seeking nothing more than God himself. I learned more than I ever had before about who I was, and who I needed to be. And I began to find my true strength.
And then one day an Ohio (not Hollywood) movie company called and said,