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NOVEMBER REFLECTION
Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift, and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people
do not know the requirements of the LORD.
 
Jeremiah 8:7
Rehearsing a scene with Nick Wilder as Dr. Bitterman

To be honest, I did not feel up to the task as September 28 approached—the first day of our final phase of filming on Let Me Have My Son. But the task was upon me, and I had no intention of being among those “who shrink back” (Hebrews 10:38).

Over the next several weeks, I was pushed to the limit as lead actor, director, producer, screenwriter. Long hours of work, short hours for sleep. When things got particularly difficult on set, when my strength seemed spent, one thought more than any other came to mind. That thought became a whispered prayer: “God give me strength to finish the migration.” 

I called to mind the example of the Monarch butterfly, a central motif of our film. Utilizing what scientists call “environmental cues,” large numbers of the delicate-looking monarchs make a rigorous journey of three thousand miles each year from Canada to Mexico to reach their winter home! They flap their wings, sure, but they often “throw themselves to the winds,” catching thermal air currents that snatch them up and hurry them along to their destination. “Carry me, Lord!” I cried. 

Some of you know my story of conversion to Christ at the age of twenty-nine. I had graduated five years previously from the NYU Film School and was pursuing a filmmaking career in the city. At the same time, I was examining the world’s religions (in a dilettantish way at times, I’ll admit), coming to rest, finally, on Jesus as “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). 

Overnight it seemed, my conversion eliminated all other expressions of pursuit of God and I became something of a zealot. A filmmaker? A screenwriter? A poet? Diversions! Distractions! Mammon! Consequently, I set out to distance myself from artistic expression of any sort. To my mind, there was but one way to serve God—preach, preach, preach! Preach to your family, preach to your friends. Witness boldly and overtly to any and all homo sapiens crossing your path!

But there was a problem for me with this approach. I didn’t feel—shall we say—God’s exuberant pleasure in it. Deep in my heart I sensed another calling, a stirring to create art as a way of declaring my love and devotion to the One who had made me and all people, who had made the stars and galaxies along with the snowflakes and butterflies. My “environmental cues” (read: “the requirements of the Lord”) were telling me to rise up like an eagle, to step out by faith and make films to the glory and honor of God.

Coaching Abdi Sabrie as Mohamed

I remember thinking in those early days, as the call to begin my migration was hammering at my soul, “What if I am making this up? What if it is my ego propelling me forward and not the Spirit of God?” I prayed and fasted. The months became years, and over those months and years, I was shaken repeatedly and vigorously (sometimes violently) so that only the “unshakable would remain” (Hebrews 12:27). 

When the dust had settled, one thing had in fact remained on the tree (at any rate it was clear to me). I was called to be a filmmaker. I had no more doubts or misgivings. His word to me was “you will declare my glory among the nations of the earth, my marvelous deeds among all people” (1 Chronicles 16:24). And so it has been. 

I’ve been on a few filmic migrations since, and the cycles of migration continue today. With principal photography now complete on Let Me Have My Son, a fully formed caterpillar has crawled into the edit suite. In due season, this caterpillar will become a chrysalis, further transformed by post-production sound design, visual effects, color correction and original music, emerging at the end as a butterfly.  

Will it be the most beautiful butterfly in God’s creation? That’s not for me to say. Indeed, I can tell you from now it will have its imperfections. It will be a film with scars not unlike the story it attempts to tell— that of a father struggling to understand why we suffer and why our children suffer. It will also take its place—so to speak—among the “festive throng going up to God’s house with shouts of joy and praise” (Psalm 55:14, Psalm 42:4), my way of saying the journey continues. 

On set in Mexico with Shalom Nava (l) as David and Nathan Barlow (r) as Benny

¡Ay de mí! I see so many shortcomings and failings in my life. I feel so weak at times, so unsuitable to the task. But I must flap my wings. The Master is calling. His requirements are clear. And when I feel there’s nothing more to give, I must seek out the thermals that will pick me up and carry me along. I must complete the migration to my winter home.

Lest you get the wrong impression, this has not been a solo flight; I have only been able to do what I have done with the support of others—some of whom you see in the picture below. A big shout out to them all (and many more you do not see in the picture)!

Cast and crew from the final Minneapolis shoot

As I take my leave, dear friends, a few questions if I may… Where are you in your life’s migration? Are you even aware you are on a migration? Do you know “the requirements of the Lord”? Heed your “environmental cues” and consider this—the deepest promptings of the heart come from our Maker, the God of heaven.  

May God keep you in his love and grace,

A FINAL WORD
Now that we are in the post-production phase of Let Me Have My Son, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Messenger Films today to help us complete the task. You might also wish to be among our regular monthly contributors. Either way, thank you in advance for your help! 
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* ARTWORK BY MIRANOV CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30520270)
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Cristóbal Krusen is a filmmaker and author. He founded Messenger Films in 1988.
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