A bruised reed he will not break
and a smoldering wick he will not extinguish...

Matthew 12:20

My son, David, was born with disabilities. You’d never guess that, hearing him play the piano.
Along with his siblings, David took piano lessons around the age of eight or nine but showed no particular aptitude for the instrument (or music in general), and it wasn’t long before I pulled the plug on lessons for all the children.
Early on, we didn’t realize David had “special needs.” We thought his severely delayed speech was due to a hearing impairment; however, it turned out his hearing was perfect. As the years passed, I saw him mature into a keenly discerning boy, capable of great depth of feeling, but he just couldn’t cope with the demands of normal classes. Eventually, he was given a diagnosis of “emotionally disturbed” and put in the Special Ed program at school.
Daniel and David in Belize

Probably as a substitute for poor social skills and the difficulty he experienced expressing himself verbally, David began watching television—a lot of television. I became alarmed; I believed that he should be doing something, anything, other than just sitting in front of the boob-tube when not in school.
As I was about to leave for work one summer morning when David was about twelve years old, I saw him in his underwear, settling into the sofa for a long day of watching TV—the last straw for this father! I had warned him before about watching so much television and this time I took action. I unplugged the set and, gripping it in both arms, headed out the door.
David watched in horror. “But Da- Dad,” he stammered. “Wha- what am I gonna’ do now?”

David at The Mall of America

My eye caught the old upright piano bought years before for the children’s music lessons. All it was doing was gathering dust…
“Play the piano!” I shouted, heading out the door with the TV.
Wouldn’t you know that I returned that evening to find that David had recorded a song on a little audio cassette recorder. It was his first composition and he hasn’t looked back since.
A few nights ago, he played one of his songs at a recital at the MacPhail School of Music in downtown Minneapolis. The other musicians had a disability of one sort or another—autism, deafness, impaired vision, and so on. David was the last to play and introduced his song "Edge of Heaven" by saying he had written it for our upcoming movie, The Puzzle Factory.

David plays "Edge of Heaven"
Driving home afterward, I half-heard David talking to me from the back seat. I’m embarrassed to say my mind was elsewhere and he had probably been talking a minute or so when I suddenly tuned in to his voice.
“Broad… Broad…” David was saying. “How do you say that word?”
“Broaden,” I said. “The word you’re looking for is broaden.”
“Yeah, that’s right,” David said with enthusiasm. “The reason I, uh… I, uh, wanted… to introduce… the song… to the audience… I want to broaden… your fan base, Dad.”
My heart melted. David wanted to help his dad… wanted to make a contribution… I let him know how thankful I was.
A few days later, David played “Edge of Heaven” again, this time at a Messenger Films fundraiser in Minneapolis. As he played the song, I described what the audience would be seeing on-screen… winter dissolving before spring and a hopeful father reuniting with his son at heaven’s edge.
By all accounts, it was the highlight of the evening. My son, David, a “bruised reed," perhaps, in the world’s eyes, had ushered us into the presence of the King. 
Please let me share another story… this one from a film set.
Cris Krusen at work on set
The year was 2004 and I was in Los Angeles. We were shooting in a run-down neighborhood near a rescue mission. Being a low-budget production with no security protection, I sensed that everyone in the cast and crew was a little nervous as homeless and desperately poor people gathered around, watching.
And then it happened.
A tall, strapping young man walked into the middle of the set, talking loudly and acting in a threatening manner. Obviously, the scene was ruined. I saw the cameraman switch off his camera and stand protectively in front of the lens. Everyone else more or less turned away, avoiding eye contact. The young man continued to shout and carry on, waving his arms wildly.
In that moment, something came over me and I walked up to him. I stand nearly 6’5” and this young man, being my height, looked directly into my eyes. He had the build of a football player (I don’t!). My guess is he was suffering from a mental illness (I have some experience in discerning these things!). I engaged him in conversation, and as he talked on and on, I realized that what he wanted more than anything else was to be recognized... for someone to listen to him. So, I listened. I’m not sure how many minutes went by. Eventually, I put my arm around him and gave him a hug. He had calmed down by then. I led him over to the side where he could watch with the others while the crew and I went back to work.
Which brings me back to Jesus.
At bottom, all of us are bruised and flickering in this world… Uncertainties and weakness assail each one of us. But we carry on... Like my son, David, we take what we have and give it our best. And God notices. He “sees” us where we are. And for all our imperfections and woundedness, he treats us with  kindness and gentleness. We know we are safe in his hands. He does not judge based on outward appearance; rather, he looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
And a bruised reed he will not break.
Happy holidays, dear friends.
P.S. Feel free to reply to this email with your comments. I read each one!

Cris has updated his "Director's Reel," which articulates his vision and approach to filmmaking.

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

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