By Carol Mathews
I had lunch yesterday with my new-ish friend, Ilan. Ilan is happily married to the love-of-his-life, an empty-nester, former dancer and a former business owner. Born and raised in Tel Aviv and later New York City, Ilan is affluent and an early retiree, he’s vibrant. In the last year that I’ve known him he’s been scripting a film idea.
Last October, I sat in his dining room with an eclectic group of people to hear his film idea. It was good and it was laden with potential, sweet and funny. Focused on my own project, I thought, “Good luck, Ilan.” I felt only slightly confident it would go anywhere.
We have had a few lunches since then. Although he had enlisted the help of an inexperienced screenwriter, he eventually sat down with his wife and finished the script. Less than a year later, Ilan delivered the finished first draft. I found it sweet, funny and original. Entertaining. It was something, and it had all the potential of any script I’d ever read . In fact, I’ve read many of scripts from experienced screenwriters that didn’t touch the entertainment and redemptive value within Ilan’s virgin screenplay – and this was his first draft.
Over lunch, Ilan mentioned he was a semi-finalist in the comedic screenplays category at the International Family Film Festival in L.A – top 4 out of 90 scripts. As we talked, he explained how he was able to do it. “I’m under no pressure. No one is counting on me. I have no deadlines. My livelihood is not tied to it. I’m just having fun. It’s pure joy!” He continued, “I have freedom. And with the freedom comes creativity.”
Maybe he felt those words would soothe my ”producer’s guilt” since I have been unable to lead “Good Enough” to a finished script in two years. I have pressure, circumstances and deadlines. My livelihood is directly tied to my performance. I feel burdened, and things don’t flow so easily when the mind is burdened. Despite his (and my) best efforts, his words didn’t get me off the hook.
My faith in Jesus says I walk in freedom. Period. If, “with freedom comes creativity,” then where is my freedom?? I feel completely burdened with my life…with bills, commitments, meetings, housework, and (a lack of?) vision. The Bible says, “His yoke is easy and his burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30) Where is that easy yoke? I want to walk with the joy and the ‘lightness of being’ that Ilan possesses. True, his circumstances are different than my own, but since when do a believer’s circumstances dictate their joy or freedom? The Bible is full of stories of those who rose above their difficult circumstances to succeed and find joy: Moses, Sarah, and Esther are just a few. I have to remind myself that Paul wrote the letters we read today from his prison cell!
I want freedom that carries creativity and the pure joy Ilian mentioned…and the truth is, it is mine in spite of my circumstances. Real faith says I have an advocate, a friend, a helper — even more — a redeemer! Faith says, ‘don’t strive’, and faith persuades us that God holds our future. He has big-picture, long-term plans for us. We work, yes, but not as slaves.
Galatians 3:5 (MSG) reminds me God has my future well in control:
“Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you?
Don’t these things happen among you just as they happened with Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God.”