John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.”
John 3:27

Cristóbal Krusen by Kino Bay, Sea of Cortés
“A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.” These words of John the Baptist have been playing in my head now for months. I find myself repeating them throughout the day like some sort of mantra.
I remember when I first read this verse. It was a few days before Christmas 1980 and I was sitting in a small motel room in Alice Springs, Australia with a King James Bible in my hands. What was I doing Down Under? you may ask.
The short answer: I was doing research for a screenplay based on the story of a Ukrainian immigrant who made national headlines in Australia in the 1950s. His name was Feodor and he had been run out of Alice Springs by local police on trumped up charges of vagrancy. When the train taking him south to Adelaide stopped at a remote siding to take on water, Feodor went “walkabout” in the forbidding Simpson Desert. A brave journalist called the nation’s attention to his plight, holding the Alice Springs authorities accountable for his disappearance. No one expected Feodor to survive the ordeal. But he was found a few days later by aboriginal trackers and taken back to Alice where he stood trial as a “suspected mental incompetent.”
From the Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW), Tuesday 14 April 1953 

In speaking firsthand with people who had known Feodor, I learned that he had been a Christian, and I consequently bought a Bible in an effort to understand him better. However, as I read the Bible, the person I found myself examining more than anyone else was… me!
The red-letter words of Jesus, especially in the Gospel of John, pierced my soul. Truly, I said to myself, “never man spake like this man” (John 7:46). A year later, I became a follower of Christ.
Flash forward to 2019 and the broken record playing in my head. “A man can receive nothing… A man can receive nothing…” Why the fixation with this verse? I ask myself. What does it mean?
Over these last two years, I’ve been developing a project entitled The Puzzle Factory, based on the story of my son’s struggles with mental illness and the impact that has had on our family. As of August 2019, I’ve written the screenplay for the movie; prepared the budget and shooting schedule; created a teaser trailer, a business plan and pitch deck… By golly, I’ve even raised some money!

And here I am… in the doldrums. The sails hang limp; the waters are like glass. I struggle with troubling thoughts.

Becalmed in the doldrums.
“But Cris,” you might say, “you’ve already made ten films. It’s not a stretch to think you’ll make another. Aren’t you being a bit hard on yourself?”
To which I reply, “A man can receive nothing unless it’s given him from heaven.”
I remember watching the movie Juno in 2007. An indie film, well-produced. I liked it a lot. And when the last credit faded to black, as I left my seat and walked down the aisle toward the exit, I said to myself, “I could have done that.”
Please understand; I take nothing away from the team that did make the movie. It was a great accomplishment. But I knew that I also possessed the skill and experience to do something of equal merit—if given the opportunity. Therein lies the rub… “if given the opportunity.” And that can only come from heaven, if it comes at all.
Michael Cera and Ellen Page in Juno.
So, I’m not going to boast of what I will do tomorrow, or a month from now, or a year from now. I’m not going to create a “buzz” around my next opus. There may not be a next opus for all I know. 
John the Baptist was busy for a season. He likened himself to the best man at a wedding whose role was meant to diminish once the bridegroom appeared. Perhaps my season is ending, too. Perhaps it has already ended, and I am not yet aware.
Years ago, someone told me I could retire after making More Than Dreams, a film seen by hundreds of millions of people all over the world. “You have a legacy now,” the friend offered encouragingly. But I didn’t warm much to her advice. I remember thinking, “But there’s more ink in the well.” And I still feel there’s more ink in the well. But I also feel—palpably feel—I can receive nothing that isn’t given me from heaven. I am wholly dependent on God.
So, what does the future hold? Will The Puzzle Factory be “greenlit” in heaven and produced here on earth? I’m standing at the ramparts, my friends, “waiting for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning” (Psalm 130:6). Yes, I am eager to make The Puzzle Factory. I believe it’s a movie that will change people’s lives.

But what does God think?

What do you think?

It would be a big encouragement to me—fresh wind in our sails—if you would consider contributing to our Indiegogo campaign to attach a name actor to The Puzzle Factory.

I’m hanging in there, friends! In those immortal words of Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” And the doldrums don’t last forever!
Thank you and God bless you.
P.S. Feel free to reply to this email with your comments. I read each one!

Did you miss the live chat with Cris on our Facebook page July 9? He and pastor Drew Baldridge discussedThe Puzzle Factory and the crisis of mental health around the globe today.

You can still catch the whole live broadcast! 

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

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