Seeing a little redhead boy reading one of the books, he sat down next to him. "Hey, kid. Whatcha reading?"
"_______," said the boy. "It's pretty neat. It's like a science fiction story and an inspirational romance story put together in one book."
"Yeah. I'm not sure why nobody on earth published it. It's good stuff. Are you going to see the movie?"
"M-movie?" He stammered. "You're kidding."
"Nope. You think you're going to write another?"
"I...I don't know. It was supposed to be sort of a test run to see if I could get anywhere in the business. I didn't bother to write the sequel because there was no demand for it."
"Well you've gotten somewhere now."
Mark sighed. "Well, I would write a sequel, but since there's no conflict in heaven, I'm not sure it will be worth the effort."
"You don't need conflict to write a story in heaven, mister. You've just got to have an idea and a desire to get it produced. People have longer attention spans here."
He nodded. "Thanks. I'll definitely think about it."
"If you don't, no sweat. It's fine by itself."
"You might want to check out the Grand Gallery, too. They have some of your pictures up."
He walked through a large room filled with bookcases, computers and animated tapestries. He paused a minute to try out a computer. The machine required no login. He poked around in it, accessing some form of the internet.
"Mark!" said a voice.
Mark turned around and saw a bearded man with a ball cap.
"Are you talking to me?"
"Yeah. I thought your book was great."
"Thanks." Mark paused. "Hey, you look familiar. Who are you?"
"Dan Kohen. I made some movies back on earth."
"Oh! I thought I recognized you."
"Yeah. And I recognized you from the book cover."
Mark laughed. "So you liked my book?"
Dan nodded. "If I were on earth, I'd say that the story needed more conflict, more crises of faith, more skepticism, more sin, and so on, but it takes a lot more to bore people up here. It's a different world. You should write something else."
"Well, your life review is waiting." Dan pointed to a door. "Go right in there."
Mark nodded and went through.
Beyond he saw God on His throne, surrounded by worshipers. He walked in. He had complaints he wanted to tell God, but as he looked up at Him, his resolve weakened.
Mark dropped to his knees.
"Did you want something?" The tone of voice indicated that He already knew the answer.
Of course he would know! "Um, sir..." He sighed. "I...I'm really happy that you finally brought my dreams to life, but I can't help feeling a bit, well, disappointed, and somewhat cheated, about what happened before I came here. I have a lot I want to talk to you about. Your planet sucks. It really sucks."
"I know that you got some reasons for creating winter, but I hate it. Getting rid of it only causes pestilence and natural disasters to happen. Why did you allow it to exist in the first place? I hate snowmen and snowballs, skiing, snowboarding, sledding and everything associated with it. It's just too cold. It only seems to be good for causing people to die from hypothermia and pneumonia."
"Secondly, what did I do to deserve the life I got? I got scholarships. I got an Eagle Scout award. I did stuff to make my parents proud. I got two degrees. Then, when I got out into the real world, I found out how worthless all of that was. Shouldn't it have counted for something? What good are all those skills I learned? Why did I even have to learn them if I was never going to use them?"
"Actually, I have a few jobs here that I want you to do." After telling him this, God told him some of the things he could have done with his skills on earth.
"But why didn't you tell me that when I was on earth? Why didn't you at least give me a hint about what I was supposed to do?"
"I want to see what happened to all of those resumes I sent. I want to know why they rejected them. I want to see who got the job instead of me."
"I will," said God. "But you will also see why they got the job instead of you, and why it was necessary for them to be in that place at that time."
Mark sighed. "Then will you also tell me why it was necessary for me to freeze to death in that alleyway?"
God explained, then showed him what happened in the companies he wanted to work for. He saw God's work in the people's lives. In other places he saw the stress, the emotional and spiritual torments, the harassment, the unscupulous business practices, and discovered he was better off a bum.
"Lord, I wanted to die. I didn't want to live anymore, and have to face the constant rejection and the stress of being expected to succeed and get a job and work for a living when I couldn't. Why didn't you just kill me and save me the grief? If you had done it painlessly, I wouldn't have minded."
"And why couldn't I get published? Why couldn't I get into the media while I was on earth? What did I do wrong? What could have I done differently? I needed the money, Lord. I wanted to make something of myself, to prove that my education wasn't a waste of time. I wanted to prove to my dad that I wasn't wasting my time drawing pictures and writing. But no. I never got anywhere. I failed just like he said I would. Where is the justice in that? Why didn't I get anywhere? All I did was try and try and try and all I got was rejection and failure. If I knew I wasn't going to make it, I would have posted it all on the internet and saved myself a few bucks, and maybe someone would have actually read it, and maybe have stolen some ideas from it so at least I'd get to see my idea on the big screen or something, corrupted as it may have been. But no. I kept trying and trying and nobody told me that it wasn't going to work. And I just failed. Why didn't anyone tell me? Why did you make my life like that?"
God explained. He then said, "I was sparing you from the insult. I knew you wouldn't be able to handle it. The secular world wasn't meant to see your stories. Even when you disguise your faith in metaphors and symbolism, there is rejection and mocking, because they know what you're trying to do, and they don't like it. You see, they were jealous of you. Jealous of the peace you have in me. They just had money. They lived in constant fear of their money being taken away. But you had me. People mock the loudest when they are jealous of something, and they mocked my people sunrise to sunset."
"That may be true," said Mark. "But I was planning to buy my own house with the express purpose of not having a television in it."
"You would have still heard the mocking eventually."
"So," Mark said. "You're saying I wouldn't have changed the world in any significant manner by being published, I guess."
"No. The scoffers and mockers would still try to take apart Christianity, regardless of where you got in the entertainment industry. The idea of my Son Jesus is so intolerable to them that no amount of sugar coating or disguising the story will get it into their minds any faster. They are dead set against me and my word."
"Oh. Okay. Then, I guess I sucked at sharing the gospel, period."
God responded to that statement in a way far deeper than a simple yes.
"But what about the power of film? People watched Bambi and didn't want to shoot deer. They watched Top Gun and sunglasses sold like hotcakes."
"For every vegetarian Bambi created, there were hunters that either laughed at the film, or didn't care to see it. And as far as the sunglasses go, there were people back then that didn't like Tom Cruise or the movie, or were too young, like you, to care about it, and now, as time progresses onward, you're dating yourself for even bringing it up."
"So much for the power of film."
"There was never any power in film. If something good was brought about in it, it was my doing. If something evil came forth, that was humanity's and Satan's fault. Think about it a minute. Imagine what it would be like if you got any of those stories published in the mainstream. You think it would have convinced them of anything? Look at what already happened to other Christians in the entertainment industry. They get so-called `comedy programs' making fun of them, and those get watched more than their shows, and likewise the parodies are read more often than their books by the public."