Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David.
I Samuel 16:13

The year was 1983. I was at a Presbyterian church in Ventura, California, raising financial support as a missionary with Latin America Mission (LAM). I had been university-trained to make movies—but here I was presenting a two-projector slide show on missionary work in Mexico. Let’s be honest; it wasn’t exactly something to write home about. 

When the ten-minute slideshow had ended, a middle-aged member of the church stood up amongst the staid gathering of Presbyterians and announced through tears that I had been anointed of God to make films that would change people’s hearts and bring them closer to God!

I said not a word. What could I say? Deep in my heart, I knew she was right; my spirit bore witness. On the other hand, where was the proof? A two-projector slide show?

There would be other such “words” or prophecies over the next few years. There was the taxi driver in Phoenix… the blind woman in Staten Island… the charismatic Lutheran minister in Miami… They all said substantially the same thing, namely that I had been chosen by God to make films for his glory.

The Manhattan skyline

In August 1984, I left LAM with my little family and returned to New York City to launch the ministry of Messenger Films. Our first project was going to be a feature film based on the life of Charles Finney and the remarkable revivals accompanying his preaching in upstate New York in the early 1800s. Again, I threw all my energy and passion into the project. But I never finished the screenplay and eventually went to work as a pizza deliveryman. 

With two children and a third on the way, and with no income from my exalted career as a filmmaker, I decided I should find a better-paying job. A church elder who had an electrician’s business hired me as his helper. I lasted six months on the job—nearly electrocuting him twice and almost killing myself once (accidentally, of course). I began to think long and hard. Had I heard God right? Had I missed my calling? 

A day off in Staten Island with daughter, Sarah, and son, Daniel

I applied for a job selling life insurance and took a placement test. I scored well, but I should have read the signs when my interviewer looked over the test results and remarked, “Your aptitude is high, but it doesn’t appear you have much interest in the job.”

He was right, of course. But I was in denial. And hungry. I turned on the charm and convinced him I was a diamond in the rough, one worth polishing.

That Saturday morning, I attended an orientation with the other new hires. Each of us was asked to comment on why we were excited to be working in the insurance business. Without exception (as I recall), every single person in the room was utterly unapologetic about his or her motive—they all wanted to get rich. And they wanted it to happen fast!

My turn came. Why did I want to sell life insurance?

“I need a job,” I said.

There was a moment of silence around the table. People seemed to be waiting for me to continue, but I had nothing more to say. The group leader called for a coffee break. I wrapped some donuts in a napkin and walked out the door, never to return. 

That evening, I returned to delivering pizza. It wasn’t that I had resigned myself to such a job; I suppose I saw it as a holding pattern allowing me to squeak by while I awaited the true prize!

Late at night, returning from work at the pizzeria to our ramshackle house in Staten Island, I would sometimes walk off into neighboring Clove Lakes Park for a quiet time. I knew the place well, having spent many hours there with my children during the daytime. There was a grove of trees up a hill where I would resort and stand in the quiet under the moon, looking up at the sky and asking God if the anointing was real. Had I truly been called to make films declaring his glory to the nations? 

Clove Lakes Park on Staten Island

I often thought of David in the Bible during those difficult days (and years). No one knows for sure, but David may have been as young as thirteen years old when Samuel anointed him king. His first outing thereafter was certainly auspicious—he killed Goliath with his sling and a stone from the riverbed—and as he matured, he led Israeli troops into battle, winning numerous victories. But there was a problem almost from the beginning. The existing king, Saul, had become jealous of David’s success and popularity and sought to take his life.

How ironic, I remember thinking at the time. Instead of fulfilling his mission as king, David found himself scrambling to stay alive in a desolate wilderness, often just a few steps ahead of the murderous Saul.    

Not only that, but following Saul’s death, David still did not become king of Israel. He only became the ruler of Judah, reigning from Hebron while various political factions warred and quarreled. The consensus was that he had been “chosen to be the shepherd of God’s people” (2 Samuel 5:2), but seven and a half more years would pass in Hebron before David would finally step into the fullness of his calling as the nation’s undisputed ruler.

Anointed, yes. From day one. But as the writer of the Acts of the Apostles expresses it, “It is through many trials we enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

The Desert of En Gedi where David hid from Saul.

Speaking for myself, I know I have not arrived. Thirty-five years have passed since that Presbyterian prophetess tearfully declared I would be making films turning people’s hearts to God. I’ve won some skirmishes along the way, perhaps even some battles, but I do not consider myself to have reached the goal. I am not where I want to be as a filmmaker. Nonetheless, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus has taken hold of me… Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I am determined to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12 – 14).  

Put another way, I continue to believe in the anointing. For “God is not a man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change His mind” (Numbers 23:19). If I am wrong about this, I am wrong about everything, and you should unsubscribe from my mailing list immediately!   

I trust, of course, I am not mistaken. And that leads me to this question… Has God given you a promise? A long-ago word you know is true? Strengthen the feeble knees! Do not despair. Take courage from David, the shepherd king, who wrote (probably sang) these words so many centuries ago: “I would have fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13).

Let us carry on, my friends.

With love and affection,

This is the book that inspired Cris to make The Puzzle Factory. The contents of its pages were not originally intended for publication. Let Me Have My Son contains, primarily, letters written on behalf of his son, Daniel, who at the time had been a patient in mental hospitals in Virginia and Mexico for seven years...

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Cristóbal Krusen is a filmmaker and author. He founded Messenger Films in 1988.

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