All This and More
by Gerald Shuler
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The slump-shouldered old man had been staring out the window for at least six full minutes. Don Carson had been warned about how ‘unique’ an interview with Pulitzer Prize winner Feldon Owens would be but he hadn’t expected him to space out so completely.
“Sir?” The young reporter politely cleared his throat, hoping to get the interview back on target. “Mr. Owens? Are you…?”
With only a slight shake of his head, Owens picked up the trailed conversation. “You asked what the most challenging thing was for me in my writing career. I’m impressed with you, lad. No reporter has ever asked that question.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Do you see yourself as a successful writer?” Owens asked.
“Certainly not compared to you, sir.”
Owens’ right eye twitched as though the reporter’s answer had been in some way painful to him. Then he said, calmly, “Why do you feel your success should be measured by my own?” This time Owens smiled a genuine smile as a flood of confusion gripped the young reporter’s eyes. “Rhetorical question, son. Don’t answer.”
Owens glanced out the window again, ready to hide in the flood of memories triggered by the reporter’s surprise query. The glance lasted only an instant, though. He realized the time had come. The truth could not be hidden any longer.
“Son, would you believe I am a Christian?
The choke of a giggle could not be mistaken. “Sir? Your writing is famous for being anything but Christian. Your books have children all over the world buying their own Demon Power Charms. A Christian? Are you joking with me, sir?”
“You asked about my biggest challenge as a writer.” For the first time Carson could hear the raw emotion in the old writer’s voice. “If the truth were known, I failed as the writer I wanted to be. You are the only person to whom I have ever revealed this. Make sure you tell it to the world accurately.”
Owens walked slowly to an antique writing desk. He opened the bottom drawer and pulled out an old, yellowed manuscript. With only slight hesitation the papers ended up in the hands of the reporter.
“Read this tonight. Tomorrow I will answer your question.”
Tomorrow came far too soon for Owens. The doorbell rang with such determination that he knew the reporter must have finished his reading. He opened the door and saw his script being waved wildly by the excited youth.
“Incredible, sir. This manuscript is incredible.” Carson rushed into the house and sat in the chair he had occupied yesterday. “This shows how to have a deeper Christian walk than I have ever known before. And the title . . . The Spirit Within. Wow! Why have you never published this?”
“I did. You know it by a different title.” Shame suddenly filled the writer’s eyes. Owens took a book off his shelf and handed it to Carson.
“This book? Rise of the Demon Masters?” Carson asked.
“I spent the entire night praying about your question. The book in your hand was my first. It was sent to the publisher exactly as you read it last night.” Owens’ eyes formed a slight glaze, as though each word was a transport into his past. “The script was accepted by the publisher because he saw raw talent in me. He made it clear, though, that Christian books wouldn’t get me where I wanted to be as a writer. They would publish me only if I rewrote to their standards.”
“But, sir? What I read last night had more power than any of your other works. Last night, sir . . .” Carson’s face glowed. “Last night, because of your manuscript, I accepted Jesus as my Lord.”
“Wonderful!” Owens’ joy was unfeigned. “Son, I believe you are ready to hear your answer. The toughest challenge for any Christian writer is to not bend principles just to get published. I failed.” His arm panned his luxurious, rich surroundings. “I was promised all this and more if I would give up my true dream of reaching people for Christ through my writing. Unfortunately, I believed that lie.”
Owens took the reporter’s hand. Tears were on both faces.
“Don, last night you became a Christian. Don’t make the mistake I made so many years ago. Son, no amount of success is worth the shame I have had to endure because I abandoned Christ’s principles.” Owens looked toward Heaven.
“Lord, God, please forgive me for my wasted life!”
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Powerful, moving, gripping,truthful,emotional. A well written piece about the agony of betraying your faith. Congratulaltions on being selected for Jewel.
Wow - this is amazing and reaches right to the heart. Praise God that He can, and does, 'restore the years that the locust has eaten'. Your descriptions of God's working in these two lives is just wonderful. Thankyou
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Wow, I say through the tears overflowing in my eyes. This is intense. I don't have words to express how much this reached into to the deepest part of my being. I've always believed what we say and do writes on the slate of one's soul, but you demonstrated this so well. Again wow
Powerful. Your characters are drawn so vividly, and the message is so clear. What a reminder for ALL of us.