“You’re a failure,” he said.
Usually if I ignore him, he goes away. Today was different.
I shook my head. “You always say that.”
“Because it’s true. You are a flat-out failure at everything. Especially writing.”
A pause. “I’m trying.”
“You’re a child playing with words you don’t understand.”
“I’m a child who’s been forgiven.”
I said, “It’s taken me this long to realize I have everything I need,” but my heart was not in it.
The devil laughed. “That’s why you always look at the bestseller lists. And when you walk into a bookstore and can’t find a thing you’ve written, you get depressed.”
“If I were you, I’d curse God.” He plopped a stack of bills in front of me. “You call this blessing? Face it. God doesn’t care about you. You pray, you plead. He’s not listening.”
A clock ticked.
“You’re trying to praise this God of yours with an inconsequential life. With your inconsequential talent.” He tapped the screen. “This is garbage.”
He drew close enough that I smelled his sulfurous breath. “You pretend you’re reaching people’s hearts, but your ego keeps bringing you back to the keyboard because you think one day someone will notice your greatness.”
I do expect I’ll be noticed, that someone will read my words. “I would be lying if I didn’t admit I sometimes feel inadequate.”
“Inadequate? You’re not even in the ballpark. You need talent to be inadequate.”
I wanted to find some scripture like, “Man does not live by bread alone,” but I couldn’t.
“Admit it. You’re a failure. Let me pull up the bestseller list. What a surprise. I don’t see your name.”
“My success is not measured in numbers. Success is measured by how faithful I—”
“Faithful? You fail him every day with your attitude, your thoughts, your words, and the way you treat your family and feed your ego by sitting here pretending this is important.”
Truth skittered through my mind. “First,” I said, “you don’t know my thoughts unless I express them. Second, you’re right, I make many mistakes. But every time you bring up failure, He brings forgiveness.”
“Oh, please. You’ll never amount to anything.”
“Hey,” I said, “if I’m never going to amount to anything, why are you here?”
His eyes darted.
“Why wouldn’t you be content to let me flail away?”
“Because I hate failures.”
“Perhaps you’re projecting,” I said, “putting on me the things—”
“I know what projecting is.”
“You lost. You failed. You thought you had won, but at the cross—”
“Enough!” he screamed, long, reverberating.
“I don’t value your opinion,” I said.
His voice flattened. “What if I offered you success?”
“Tempting, but that fruit is stale.”
“A million-dollar advance. A big house overlooking the ocean.”
“I don’t need the view. And I’m not selling my soul.”
“Every man has his price. Name it. Anything you want.”
I looked at him squarely. You can always see fear in the eyes. “You can’t buy what’s already been sold.”
I shrugged. “I’m not my own. I’ve been bought for a high price. By God Himself. You want me, you’ll have to dicker with the owner.”
He turned away muttering. “You’ll always be a failure.”
I almost felt sorry for him.
Chris Fabry is an award-winning author and radio personality who hosts the daily program Chris Fabry Live! on Moody Radio. Chris has published more than 65 books, including nonfiction and novels for children and young adults. He coauthored the Left Behind: The Kids series with Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, as well as the Red Rock Mysteries and The Wormling series with Jerry B. Jenkins. RPM, his latest series for kids, explores the world of NASCAR.
Photo credit: Salvatore Vuono