The year was 2016, and actor Kristoffer Polaha had embarked on a 12-month goal of reading the entire Bible to his children at night.
Oftentimes, they would fall asleep before he finished. Polaha, though, would keep reading.
"They would be snoring, and I would kind of just jam through a little more," Polaha told Christian Headlines.
Polaha began the Bible-in-a-year project with the hope of instilling a strong faith in his children. In the end, though, Polaha also was changed.
"God tore into my life that year," he said.
At the time, Polaha was an actor with a handful of titles to his name, including Where Hope Grows (2014), a faith-based movie in which he played a washed-up professional baseball player. (It's currently streaming on Pureflix.)
Polaha, though, wanted bigger roles and bigger movies. He wanted – he says now – to be compared to Marlon Brando.
"When I was young, I was 100 percent ambition. I wanted to be considered the greatest actor of my generation. I wanted to go to the top of Everest," he said.
"When my sons were born, I said, 'Lord, my sons are in your hands, their life is yours, do with them what you will.' And I was able to give them over to God. My finances, I was like, 'Lord, it's not my money – it's your money.'"
Polaha, though, was not willing to trust God with his career.
"I was holding on to it with this death grip because I wanted certain things out of it," he said. "But if you really want to get deep, pride was involved. I would say idol worship was involved. And God broke my heart open."
Reading the Bible to his children transformed him.
Polaha says he had three "epiphanies" that year.
The first epiphany: He's not Marlon Brando.
"When people watched me, I wanted them to be like, 'Man, he's so great ... he's like the next Marlon Brando.' And it hit me that that was a small goal. And that was almost like a fool's errand," he told Christian Headlines.
Polaha said he felt God telling him: "You should remind people of Jesus. When you act, you should make people think of the Creator of the universe."
The second epiphany, Polaha said, involved his fame. Instead of wanting to be a so-called movie star, he said, he now wanted to be more like the "moon," reflecting the light of the Son.
"[It] came into my mind where I was like, 'You know what? I'd rather be and reflect the Son's light … than me trying to be this black hole of ego.'"
The third epiphany: God is in control of his career.
"I was praying. And in that prayer, I just said, 'God, take my career. Have it. Do what you want. If you want me to work, I'll work. … If you don't, I won't.'"
When Polaha turned his career over to God, more doors started to open. He landed in several Hallmark projects, got a role in Wonder Woman 1984 (2020), and has a role in this summer's blockbuster, Jurassic World Dominion. He also is in an upcoming Lifetime film, Buried in Barstow.
"It's interesting how God works," he said. "... He opened the door."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Neilson Barnard/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.