All that glitters is not gold. It's been 6.5 years since we started the 168 Film Project. I look back on all the challenges and the triumphs and what it has cost to get here and I ask, was it worth it?
Personally, it has cost me much of my time, energy and focus from being a writer/director. But, the accomplishments of one really do pale in comparison to advances among a group of folks with the strength of conviction of a greater good.
168's stated purpose is to illuminate the Word of God and to assist emerging filmmakers in forging a career that is honoring to the teachings of the Judeo/Christian bible. This has been done in every year of the contest. Following are some examples.
A Producer said: "I finally realized that God doesn't want to be on MY team, he wants me to be on HIS team!"
One Producer said: "Before 168, God and I weren't talking. Now we have a relationship."
An agnostic director said: "After 168, I am no longer agnostic. I now consider myself a seeker, because I can no longer deny the truth of the words of Jesus."
Ron became involved with 168 only because of his interest in filmmaking. After learning to trust the men and women involved with the project, he later trusted in Jesus and even was baptized on the set after the finished shooting the baptismal scene. He is now in seminary on the way to becoming a youth pastor.
A distraught young girl had decided to commit suicide. Before she did, she wanted to treat herself to a dream she had, making a movie. Because of the kindness she received on the set of a 168 project, she was deeply moved and decided to allow herself to live, and to live for the saviour!
How lasting is a human commitment, especially in Hollywood?
Hollywood can be a very lonely place. A population of dreamers (Christian or not) is prone to enslavement to their own dreams. I submit that our dreams and their selfish pursuit mean nothing. There is a narrow passage that leads to fulfillment and few find it. It is so very elusive.
I am watching as the filmmakers and actors and actresses who have cut teeth working on 168 projects grow up. They are starting to achieve significant things and to garner the success for which they have worked so hard.
In 3000 years of "evolution" it is really strange to me that humans still wrestle with the same foibles, specifically pride, materialism, lust greed, envy and on and on. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and though they may see the dangers, the seduction of the world is all too potent a weapon for many to resist.
I know of one person (we'll call Desire), for whom I can say it has always been about Desire and no one else. There is a masquerade toward helping others, but at the end of the day, it's all about Desire. So, when Desire is fulfilled and the means don't quite justify the end, what follows may be a leftover gnawing that this artist may or may not understand. And at the inevitable end of intoxicating success, will it still be all about how powerfully God is moving and working into the dreams of Desire?
Who is this person? It's also you and me. The Lord gives and takes, disciplines and rewards. He is good today, tomorrow and yesterday.
Seduction is clothed in many raiments and in the future, only one thing is sure: seduction is offered to all without prejudice. Some of us are tested by the praise and the success we receive. Will we be ever-humble? In our heart of hearts, is it really, truly all about us??
How would we REALLY know? Oh, yeah we will find out in the end, but what about now??
Psalm 119:9-16 gives a pretty good clue:
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. (niv)
More words to live by in:
Psalm 37:3-8 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. (niv)
And finally, Ecclesiastes 11 Has great wisdom and exhortation to venture, to work, to live, & to enjoy...as well as a warning.
4 Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap...
6 Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well...
9 Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment. (niv)