HOLLYWOOD’S PRODIGAL SON RETURNS
Everyone loved him as Little Ricky on “I Love Lucy.” But at home, things weren’t so great for actor Keith Thibodeaux.
In 1956, Keith auditioned for Lucille Ball and the crew at the “I Love Lucy” show. Keith was just a small 4-year-old boy, but he went in and did what he loved – played the drums. Such a small boy with a huge musical talent, quickly caught the eye of musician and actor, Desi Arnaz. After an impromptu jam session, Desi said, “I think we’ve found Little Ricky!”
Keith’s life changed forever. For four years, he played “Little Ricky” and then went on to the Andy Griffith Show, where he played Opie’s friend, Johnny.
After the family moved to Hollywood to follow Keith’s television career, he began to ask his father, “Why did God pick me?” He wondered what the purpose of his acting career might be. His dad offered important advice that stuck with him “God’s got a purpose for you.”
Sadly, Keith’s Dad’s infidelity came to light, and Keith’s world began to crash around him. He didn’t understand how the father he thought he had, who had been so full of meaningful advice, could let him down. He turned his anger to God.
That’s when Keith began attending parties with drugs and alcohol. His spiral downward led him into a study of the occult. He knew there was a supernatural world, and determined not to let God play a part, he began to follow spiritual paths that did not include God. His interaction with demonic forces began to convince him that his life had no value.
Adultery, drugs, demons, and suicide pulled him further and further from Christ. Until one day, this Hollywood golden child let Jesus turn it all around.
While he considered suicide numerous times, Keith couldn’t shake the words his father spoke to him so many years before. That’s when Keith talked to God. He agreed that if God could pull him out of the sewer, he was in that he would serve Him. He went to church with his mother, and God gave him a new path for his life.
With his new commitment to God, Keith enjoyed a new outlook on life. He was a man with a purpose. Keith worked through his addictions, and he was hired as the drummer of the band “David and the Giants.” He started sharing his faith with his bandmates – who ended up finding salvation as well. The group went from being a secular band to a Christian one.
Keith married a Mississippi professional ballet dancer Kathy Denton, and the two founded “Ballet Magnificat,” a Christian ballet company that tours internationally. Working as a husband and wife team, their mission is to use the ballet to share the Gospel message.
Looking back on his life and seeing the path to where he is now, Keith admits that God did indeed have a purpose for him. His fame from the “I Love Lucy” days, and training from being on sets, playing in a successful band, have all contributed to his ability to share the message of God’s love. Keith sees endless opportunities for using the medium of creative art to reach and encourage others.
What motivated Keith to turn back to God was expressed long ago to those in the same condition as Keith. Here’s what the prophets said: “Tear your heart and not your clothes. Return to the Lord your God, for He is full of loving-kindness and loving-pity. He is slow to anger, full of love, and ready to keep His punishment from you.” (Joel 2:13). “The Lord of All says, ‘Return to Me, that I may return to you.’” (Zechariah 1:3). “You must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.” (Hosea 12:6).
“If you return to God and let Him make right all the wrong in your life, then you will be restored.” (Job 22:23). “Let us examine ourselves and let us repent and turn again to the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:40). “Whenever you are in trouble and turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and seek Him, you will find Him.” (2 Chronicles 15:4)
And the Apostle James wraps it all up by making this altar call: “Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty, is divided between God and the world.” (James 4:8)
So, we can see, it doesn’t start with God. He is already calling those who strayed away from His love and grace. He wants to redeem and save everyone willing to return. So, it starts with us. God has decided that He loves us. Now we must decide if we love Him more than the situation we are in. – Dr. Robert R Seyda