By Alyssa Plock
This is a guest post from Alyssa, my dear friend and roommate from college. For the past few years, she has helped lead a scripture-based recovery program. Her experience has taught her that many Christians are saved, but not healed of pain. Her passion is to see God move every hurting person to a new place through reflection, accountability, and forgiveness. Alyssa currently works as a radio producer in upstate New York. You can read her blog or follow her on Twitter.
Cory Monteith, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Williams–stars with dark secrets who did not make it out alive; souls who, as far as we can tell, became permanently lost to the Father.
But then there’s Shia LaBeouf. His dark secrets are well known. But because of God’s pursuit, he will make it out of this alive. Shia shares a lot about himself and how he found God in the recent Interview Magazine article, a sit-down interview with Elvis Mitchell. As I read it, I rejoiced, cried, and felt a deep, brotherly love for him grow and grow. God reached down into a dark life and pulled Shia up.
In the Interview article, Shia candidly describes his father as “a Vietnam veteran who came home disgruntled.” A former drug addict and motorcycle gang member, Shia’s father created a childhood of darkness and “irony” for Shia, in which the greatest gift he got from his dad was pain.
Then in his young adulthood, Shia explains how he felt like he had become a slave of the movie industry, that he had given it so much control over him, and that he struggled to feel hope when the whole world was “dumping” on him. He says his method acting and deep insecurities often got him in trouble in the public eye.
Then Director David Ayer entered the picture.
David is known for writing Training Day, The Fast and the Furious, and End of Watch. David grew up in the rough streets of Los Angeles, joined the Navy before he finished high school, and taught himself to screenwrite. He was a troubled soul until the Lord rescued him. David uses his movies to explore manhood, explore the complexities of life, and honor those who put themselves on the line to protect others.
When Shia first met with David on the set of Fury, the writer/director said, “I want you to know that what’s being offered to you is not just a film, this is a life-changer. We’re going to push it all the way to the edge. I want you to make this movie like you’ll never make another movie. You’re going to die on this set.”
After his first meeting with David, Shia became a chaplain’s assistant with the National Guard. Through this training period, in which he shadowed a chaplain for a month, he found God.
Back on set, David connected with Shia over rehearsals, camping, and living life together. “I’ve never experienced unconditional love from another man,” Shia tells Mitchell. “And war is the only place in society where men are allowed to unconditionally love each other. And what we experienced on the set was unconditional love.”
For Shia, working on Fury was the best experience of his life because making films is his therapy and David Ayer was “not the observer; he’s going through it with you…It was like becoming a Christian–you subject yourself to everything that’s coming. You relinquish everything.”
At one point Mitchell asks Shia, “It sounds like this is the first time you’ve ever had real trust in a director?”
Shia responds, “In men.”
God’s heart is for men like Shia who grew up in “affliction” and “bitterness of suffering” (Lamentations 3).” He knows that at one point, like Shia, we were all dead in our filth, children of wrath by nature, without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2).
It pains God to see His sons slipping away from His grasp. The Bible describes a story in which a son disowned his father, took his inheritance early and spent it all in crazy, reckless living. When the money ran out and the son hit rockbottom, he decided he would go back and work like a servant for his dad. But his dad wouldn’t have it. His dad had been watching for him and when he saw the son far off, he sprinted toward him and wrapped him in his arms (Luke 15:11-32). Like that father to the prodigal, God wants to run to his lost sons when He sees them looking for a way out of the dead ends.
I am grateful to men like David whose hearts align with the Father’s heart and who see their job as their calling. As Shia’s public meltdowns spread across the cyber-universe, he seemed to appear beyond saving to most of the world. But God allowed David to pursue him and show him what no other man had shown him–unconditional love. As God’s love changes our brokenness, we begin to feel the heartbeat of God and realize that His deep love can pour out of us and change another life.In David’s case, the pain from his past allowed him to extend the ultimate ‘pay it forward’ to Shia. He felt what Shia felt.
A few years ago, a friend of mine slipped further and further away from God. Through this awful experience of watching the light go out in someone’s eyes, the Lord drew me near to the depth of His love. As I would pray for my friend, God would cry, “My child, my child. Alyssa, you are not weeping right now, but I am.” And the Father’s searing pain and the Spirit’s groans would burn in my spirit. It’s called travailing in the Spirit. It’s feeling pain on someone else’s behalf to spare them, bring them to healing or, like in my case, serve God’s purpose in pushing one you love over the edge.
When God brings you into this kind of prayer, no matter how deep he brings you or how much it hurts, you are safe. When you have witnessed what God has for you, he brings you back up to the surface to breathe easily again, refreshes you and equips you for the next task. Just because it is scary at first, does not mean it is not from God. The honor in submitting to a travailing prayer is that you walk away knowing that God has shared his innermost thoughts with you.
I ask you, my brothers and sisters to join me in travailing for Shia. He, other Hollywood souls, and the people God has put before us in our own circles, need our love and support.
For Shia, pray that God breaks the anger he is still holding onto and replaces it with something more powerful: forgiveness; pray that God brings even more men to unconditionally love him and keep him walking on the path of truth; and pray that Shia finds movies to work on that (in his words) make his “soul grow.”