Forty years ago. 1976. Gerald Ford was President. Roger and our Dallas Cowboys lost to Terry and the Steelers 21-17 (Jan. 18). Jack Nicholson & Louise Fletcher won Best Actor and Best Actress Golden Globes for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Olivia Newton-John & John Denver won at the 3rd American Music Awards. Taxi Driver was released with Robert De Niro and 13-year-old Jody Foster. Natalie Cole (1950 – 2016) won Best New Artist at the 18th Grammy Awards. Stephen Wozniak & Steve Jobs founded Apple Computer (April 1).
Reg and Lauren Grant move to Dallas to start their seminary career at DTS!
What? You didn’t know?! Join the club! Very few folks know of our move to DTS. Most of our family thought we would be in New York, pursuing an acting career, which is what I’d been preparing for since I was nine years old. And those theater friends that were aware of our sudden switch to seminary thought we were nuts. But the Lord had called us to DTS. Unmistakably. Unrelentingly. I had surrendered my makeup kit (which I had been building since I was 9) as a final severing of the psychological umbilical cord that tethered me to the theater.
Prior to “the call” I would have done almost anything to get to Broadway. Following the Lord’s call, I honestly thought He wanted me to leave the theater/acting behind in order to fully devote myself to following Him. And He was right. Though I lacked the biblical knowledge and maturity to be able to articulate it at the time, I came to realize later that the theater and acting had become my “Isaac” – and I needed to be willing to leave them on the altar before Jesus would truly be Lord of my life.
The day I gave away my makeup kit, I got a call. A friend – John Ratliff – suggested I call a professor named John Reed. He was doing something in “Christian Drama,” which I had never heard of. Not knowing what I should do in our first meeting, I decided to do something familiar. So I auditioned: cuttings from Romeo (remember this was a long time ago), Jimmy from The Rainmaker, and Tom’s opening monologue from The Glass Menagerie.
Dr. Reed was so kind and encouraging. He invited me to join him as a researcher for Bible characters. I sat in on a class he was teaching on how to write and perform biblical characters and started teaching a section with him that year. My first year as a seminary student. I know. Insane.
Dr. Reed was my mentor, and my friend – and on the very day I laid the last vestige of theater on the altar, he was my “ram in the thicket.”
I’ll be teaching that acting class – with a few changes – for the fortieth time at DTS, this semester. It’s new every single time. Just like my students. Just like the Lord’s tender mercies and His grace in allowing me to teach.
And I wouldn’t trade it for Broadway.