As a film & television actor, Kris Polaha sees a great deal of the world in his travels . But one of his most profound experiences has been playing out this summer on a mountain trail right behind his house.
I’ve been running a lot lately. Behind our house we have this mountain, and I’ll run to the top of the mountain on a dirt trail, and I’ll pray. It’s about five miles and so it takes about an hour. I’m just in prayer, and there have been moments where I’ve just fallen on my hands and knees, and I’ll just be praying and worshiping.
And I’ve been asking God to really go through my life right now, and just work through everything. All of it.
What’s interesting is that – in my life – I’ve always held on to this one thing, which – ironically – is what we’re talking about today – acting.
I was always able to go in prayer and say, ‘God I want to give you this – my life, my loves, my wife, my kids – all these things. But my acting – let me hold on to this one thing.’ I had these dreams, and I had these goals. What I’ve come to realize was that I had made acting into a false idol. I kind of idolized it in a way.
Kris plays the lead character – Calvin Campbell – in Where Hope Grows, a redemptive new movie with a great story to tell of the power of faith and friendship. It just released on DVD & Blu Ray across America. Being involved with a project anchored in faith is a natural fit for Kris, who’s known Jesus since childhood.
When I was seventeen, I prayed. I had this prayer. I remember really vividly where I was and the time of year. It was about September, my junior year in high school.
And man, high school was awesome. It was great. I was the lead in all the plays, and I had this really pretty girlfriend. Grades were awesome. So everything was great.
And I prayed – and I used to pray everyday. It was one of those things where they called me ‘Jesus Freak’ my freshman year.
Randomly I did this thing where I said, ‘God I want to know if this is you or if this is me, and I’m not going to pray for six months. I’m just going to take a break. And effectively my pride sort of made me break up with God.
That moment led to a time of wandering in Kris’ life – both physically and spiritually – but it also marked the beginning of a path that saw him return to his Christian faith with an even greater dedication and joy than he’d known before.
This summer on that same mountain trail, his youthful decision has come into greater focus.
My soul was crushed with repentance about a month ago on the trail as I was praying. God showed me this moment in my life with fresh eyes.
I had so much pride and arrogance. When you stop, and you humble yourself – I don’t care what you do for a living. If you’re an actor, you’re appealing to people. That’s nothing I had anything to do with. That’s a God gift. I can act. That has nothing to do with anything I’ve ever done. That’s a God gift.
I’ve met people who’ve been able to open up doors for me. That has nothing to do with my time and place. That is all God designing and arranging a plan for me. Us talking about it right now – this is God.
When you start to peel back the layers, when you start to really look at what it means to be a person of faith – to be a Christian – it really means that every breath you take and every step you make has already been ordained. God has us. So then it becomes a question of, well do we let God in? Do we say, ‘God I’m going to hand this over. I’m going to give it all to you.’ Or do we hold on to stuff? We have a choice.