WRATH vs GRACE

It is a terrible thing to wish the judgement of God on any man,
The judgement of God is based on a harsh truth which stands in line with His Word,
Who can stand blameless if God were to judge?
The murderer, thief, adulterer, pedophile, etc all seemingly deserve that judgement,
But in reality what they deserve is God’s mercy and our pity,
For they were not born that way,
They were misled by man and his social vices,
Some were oppressed into sin as we call it,
Some were deceived into sins miry pool,
Others not even knowing what they were doing indulged in it…..
But the good Shepherd laments at the loss of his sheep,
And always goes out to look for them,
Unfortunately so many of us are lost,
Some wander away and luckily find their way back,
His sufficient grace always welcoming us home,
His love comforting all prodigals,
Not always curing us from the scars of our travails,
But easing the pain and helping us heal within which is what matters….
So let’s pray the grace and mercy of God on all,
Let’s pity the “sinner” who is lost and causing pain to many,
The earlier he changes the better for us all,
If he dies without changing more people will suffer from his depraved state,
Only then can he truly face the judgement of God,
For God is merciful and patient with us all,
Patient with we the “righteous” the “saved” the “sinful” and the “depraved”…..
Jesus died for us all,
Hoping to show us what true grace is,
Hoping to show us what true humanity is,
Hoping to show us what true love is,
Hoping to show us what really matters,
Hoping to show us who God really is………
It’s a tough walk this trek of life,
It needs direction and focus for a Pilgrim to progress,
For there are many distractions along the path,
Even within the church and among the “righteous”,
But His grace abounds and delivers us,
Picking us up when we fall again and again,
Leading us on and giving us strength,
Showing us who we truly are,
And delivering us from the judgement of God.
It is a terrible thing to wish the judgement of God on any man,
Leave that for Him to decide,
The grace of God can cause pain and anguish,
Leading to repentance and wholesomeness,
So let’s learn to forgive and pray the mercy of God on all men,
It’s a very tough ask and almost impossible,
But it is what God Himself calls us to do.
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THE WOW FACTOR

We are living in wonderful times. Some of us more than others as those of us born in the late 60s through to the early 80s seem to have had a taste of the past, enjoyed the present of our time and have seen into the future. We witnessed and enjoyed so much of man’s progress ranging from antibiotics to television to the internet and from 80s oldies to Naija music. We’ve seen the bar raised so many times, in so many spheres that we are often left wondering if indeed things can get better. It’s easy to admit to this on a personal level as we want to keep on achieving, but for those who exhilarate us with what they do in the public space, it’s often hard to imagine someone else taking us higher. Fancy another Jesus or Mohammed, as they are the top of man’s idolatry in terms of what I’m trying to say.

My lesser public idols have existed more in sport (and Michael Jackson in music, Clint Eastwood in movies), as I am a goosey bumpy person who had the privilege of being a best of some sort when I played football, as my B89 group went unbeaten in three years in the annual UCH inter-group football competition. Maybe it’s also because I was somewhat idolised then too 😇
Back to the matter, last night, Lebron James made me think and even say the unthinkable from this mind of mine……that he is the best basketball player I’ve ever seen. Those who have watched Michael Jordan play will understand why. This will surprise some of my friends (Bielose Konwe, Olumide Ajayi, Babatunde Adedeji and Olawale Adegbite) who all knew how much I worshipped Michael, who set so many records and standards in the NBA. Slowly and steadily, LBJ, who I’ve watched from day one of his career when many felt he was overhyped, has defied his critics and raised the bar to a level many are saying is as high as, if not higher than MJ’s. I’m not sure he has caused me more goose bumps but I’ve just had to bow to the King so often that I think it’s time to actually crown him 💪🏽

About sixteen years ago, Amby Rukewe predicted to me that Roger Federer was going to be the best tennis player ever. It seemed a bold prediction at that time given that Roger had just won his second grand slam. We were yet to recover from Pete Sampras’s exploits and he was still quite active then. Roger was definitely talented but could he actually do it? Well he did, and in grand style too. Even Sampras and Borg have doffed their hat in respect and submission to RF 🙌🏽

My favourite game is football (in case you haven’t noticed), so to give me goosebumps consistently in this sport must mean pure genius. Pele introduced me that experience but I really didn’t get to see enough of him. Maradona had me open mouthed in awe and standing up in slow motion to applaud with a feeling better than goosebumps when he scored that goal against England. I was goose fleshed by him many more times after that. The Real Ronaldo was my exposure to Pele and Maradona mixed together as cable TV gave me access. Eric Cantona converted me from being a fan of the Saints to being one of the Red Devils, and loyally there I took regular doses of Ronaldo Part Two when he joined us.
And then came Messi. Ironically it was when he scored against Manchester United in the 2009 Champions League final that I really switched to him. He has consistently delivered since then and I’m scared his retirement will leave me itching like a codiene addict…..not that extreme though, but really Messi is the best sportsman I have ever seen 🙏🏽 (no god emoji to use)

I fear my idolatry may have peaked with Messi as age and experience continue to be thrust on me. One can almost feel like, “I’ve seen it all,” and wonder what could possibly be better. But then, my 78yr old dad recently converted his GOAT from Pele to Messi after a long hard fought resistance. My son Dami is already the best footballer in his primary school and will yet achieve more than I did in the sport. Who knows what his eyes will see with regards to sporting achievements? Who knows if someone will come around to surpass Messi, LBJ and Federer who Dami has also admired in the second half of his first decade of life? I guess I shouldn’t be saying “if” but “when”, as it is quite sure to happen as long as the clock keeps on ticking. I hope it happens in my time. The fulfilment of an everlasting Jesus and the emptiness of no new Michael Jackson, needs to be balanced with the temporary idolatrous worship of those who able to WoW 😮 me over and over again.

*the above choices of best are my personal experience and I’m sure we all have ours. The purpose of this is not to force them on you, but to express the feeling of exhilaration from their achievements for me, and your bests for you 🤗

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GOD MUST BE WICKED

It was three months after her wedding and the missed menstrual period with a mild feeling of unwellness was welcomed with great joy. Now she knew she would not suffer the pain of praying and longing for the gift of being a mother like some of her friends and relatives had. She gave thanks to God and dreamed of the arrival of her baby who she deemed a blessing from God. “Blessing,” hmm, that sounds like a good name, she mused, well if it’s a girl. But then her in-laws were very particular about her having a male child so her prayers had to be channeled in that direction. Hopefully her second child would be a girl and she would name her Blessing. After all God answers prayers and surely He would give her a boy if she requested for one. That’s what the pastor had always said. To further link herself with God and his blessings she registered at the mission home close to her residence for medical care during the pregnancy. After all the Government hospitals were frequently on strike and thus unreliable.

 

One evening in the tenth month of the pregnancy, she felt a stream of water run down her legs. Shortly after she started having unusual abdominal pains. This must be the labour pains they talked about at the women group she rightly deduced. She nudged her snoring husband to arousal and informed him. It was only half seven and he was already snoring…men! Together they packed her bags and made for the mission home. The trek which usually took just fifteen minutes, took thirty five minutes this time because she had to stop occasionally, or rather because she was stopped occasionally by the abdominal pains which were increasing in frequency and intensity. They eventually made it to the clinic, or, was it a hospital? Funny she had never asked what the status was and besides she was not sure what the difference was anyway, that is, if there was any difference. The shouts of some people in prayer reassured her God was at home.

 

The “midwives” on duty greeted her with smiles as they lumbered in, and her husband made the necessary payments which were very affordable. He paid for recycled gloves, a new blade, a yarn of thread, some anointing oil and the service charge. He was then asked to get some drugs from the nearby pharmacy, or was it a chemist?  His wife was put to a bed and she winced as the pain was getting worse. One of the nurses took her blood pressure with only the thing wrapped round her arm. The mother to be was sure she had seen doctors use a stet…sthethos….skethos…, oh well, that thing they put in their ears, to also check the blood pressure. Not in this case. Maybe this was a new way of checking it she mused as her arm was squeezed.

 

There were three other women in the room with her, all “labouring” in childbirth too. They seemed to be working harder than she was because they were screaming intermittently; perfectly timed to the occurrence of the pain they felt from the contractions. She was getting anxious and was worried by this scene. She remembered her prayers and was reassured she would not feel much pain, after all she was special! There were 2 midwives in attendance and it never occurred to her to ask for a doctor. After all her mother and her mother in-law had been delivered by midwives so who needed a doctor. Besides doctors were only for complicated cases which often meant operations and she had told her God that was not her portion so all was in order. She was in God’s hands in God’s house.

 

The pains had gotten much worse and she had joined in the screaming too. Now she understood why those women were screaming! Two of them had been delivered. “Delivered,” hmm, she wondered about the screaming in the deliverance services at her church and tried to compare them to the screaming in the delivery room. Good spirits take longer to be delivered she concluded. It was now just her and another woman who had been admitted after her making the not too nice music. The midwives had lost their niceness as they now shouted at her to keep quiet and stay in bed.

“Be a woman,” they admonished her.

“I’m trying,” she whimpered, but it was hard to be a woman with the pain she was experiencing, she silently added. She had never felt such pain in her life. Yes, she knew about the biblical curse but, did a woman have to suffer so much in this day and age? She wondered how her mother had bore seven children and she told herself she would not have any more kids after this. The pain was becoming unbearable and she screamed again.

 

It was now nine hours after she had been admitted. Nine long hours filled with distress and discomfort; now discouragement and despair were setting in. “Baby please come,” she begged as tears dripped from her eyes. She was getting exhausted and restless at the same time. If only the contractions could stop so she could get some rest. “Aargh, Yeeeeee, Ohhhhhh,” her thought process was interrupted by the agonizing pain once more. She struggled to return to her thoughts. It seemed the prayer warriors had called it a night as she listened to the silent night. It seemed all she could hear were her thoughts and her breaths. She was the only one in the room now. It then dawned on her the so called prayer warriors were the relatives of the other patients. Her supporters club consisted of just her husband who left about an hour ago to go and fetch some of his relatives; supporters by association. One of the midwives was asleep and the other was still trying to shout her down. She felt alone in the world. Where was everyone, where was God?

 

Three more hours passed and she was yet to be delivered. She was so tired she could not scream anymore. She had been urged to push the baby out over the last hour as she was “almost there,” she had been told innumerably.  The midwife had even tried pressing down on her belly to assist her. Her husband was back and she remembered her mother in law blaming her earlier on for being difficult. “After all I did it six times,” she had boasted. Even in this state, the old hag was keen to spite her. Thankfully the son of the hag, whom she loved, was more supportive, but he had a vain look of helplessness about him as he tried to comfort her. A tear rolled down her cheek, stimulated by another emotion this time. The pain came back long and hard reaching into her soul from which she let out an ear piercing scream. Then, the pain stopped.

 

The discomfort of a finger probing her underneath aroused her. The head is there but it just won’t come. Push hard!” said the probing midwife.

“I can’t,” replied the would-be mother but no sound came out her mouth. She was weak. She opened her eyes and the agitated look on the faces of the midwives, her husband and even her mother in law made her snap them shut again. She tried to pray but the words of Hezekiah in 2nd Kings 19:3 which read, “This is a day of trouble, and rebuke, and blasphemy; for the children have come to birth, but there is no strength to bring them forth,” came to her. Now she knew what he meant. But why me she asked. Why me? I go to church, I pray, I tithe, I even came to a mission home for my delivery.

She felt a trickle come out of her.

“My God, she’s bleeding,” gasped the unqualified auxiliary nurse, “we need to transfer her now!”

“Isn’t there anything you can do!” yelled the father to be. “The Government hospital doctors are on strike I haven’t got enough money to pay in the private hospital.”

The debate continued, but in blur to her as she was beginning to feel light headed. Why me, re echoed her thoughts, why me? God must be wicked to allow this happen to me, she honestly blasphemed.

 

The movement made her dizzy. The pain was back, fiercer and non-stop. It was a different kind of pain. The bumpy ride did not make it better. She opened her eyes and saw the blackness of the sky through the car window. The clouds moved and the moon came into view. With the light came a waft of fresh breeze which caressed her face. In that instant, the pain ebbed, her thoughts cleared and she reasoned again. Whose fault is it? Mine for needing help? The unqualified people who set up and ran the clinic? The government who allowed them run the clinic which was way below standard? The doctors who were on strike? Her poor husband who struggled day and some nights to make a meagre living as a security man? The pastor who tried to encourage her and increase her faith, making her believe she could have all she wanted? Her mother in law who she feared might be a w***h???

Certainly God was not to blame she now knew, as her thoughts got clearer. The words “My people perish for lack of knowledge,” came to her. True Godly knowledge would make the government aware of its responsibility to its people; true Godly knowledge would make the midwives (or whatever they were) aware of their limitations; true Godly knowledge would temper some of her pastor’s proclamations; true Godly knowledge would lead to a better relationship between the Government and the doctors, true Godly knowledge and wisdom would empower she and her husband spiritually and financially, and Godly knowledge would work on even her mother in law! If, and only if, people responded to the good (God) within them. Surely there is some in every human being, she insisted.

 

God loves me, she remembered, God loves me, she smiled….God loves me, she concluded. The clouds covered the moon again, as if to darken the illumination she had just had. However a new day was dawning. It had been a long night. The sun was beginning to peep but there was still darkness. Her body was battered but her slowing heart was now lifted and she felt rejuvenated. As her tired eyes closed into blackness, the smile on her face shone inwards, giving her light.

 

pregnant_belly

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CHURCHING IN AMERICA

While in America for the first time in 2003 on a three month course, I visited four different churches. The beauty about visiting different churches is that it gives one a glimpse of the different people one will meet in heaven. To be honest though, such visits have only served to make me believe that heaven is not the way many of us think it will be, but hey, that’s a story for the afterlife. Each church visit did bring a new and some familiar experiences….

First church I visited on invitation from a Nigerian acquaintance was a Nigerian Pentecostal church. I felt at home as the songs and worship were familiar. Plenty of tongues, dancing, “powerful” preaching and all. We might have as well been in Lagos, although the frenzy was not as racy as in Africa’s most populous city. Altar call prayers were for people looking for jobs, people trying to get their visas and stays sorted and people looking for financial growth.

Second church I visited on invitation from a white family was a Methodist church. It felt a bit odd being the only black man in the church. That was until I sighted another black family seated in the front row. Songs were hymns, the Reverend seemed relaxed and casual, and the atmosphere was calm. It was then announced that the randomly selected beneficiary of a house the church members had built with their own hands was the black family. They weren’t members of the church. Later in the afternoon, we went to the presentation of the house which was in a calm neighbourhood. Lovely three bedroom bungalow, and it was a thrill to how excited the children were, running around the rooms of their new home. As we left, on the street was the smell of marijuana and the bass of some woofers from a car stereo. Some “boys from the hood” had come to see their friend’s new house.

Third church I visited taken by a guardian was a Black American church. The place was alive! The choir was loud, the dancing was rhythmic and prayer was as frenzied as in Lagos. The offering session was noticeable and prayer points focused on deliverance for wayward children on drugs, job seekers and against injustice.

The fourth church on invitation from a white colleague at work was a white Pentecostal church. The atmosphere was very calm, the music was like slow country music, couples held arms and hugged as they sang. We said prayers for a lady who was going to South Africa to support the HIV mission there. After church we went for lunch with a missionary family that had just come back from Iraq.

It was fascinating to get those four experiences which proved how different we are in terms of what we seek and give, and in terms of how we worship. I guess these stem from how we think and how we perceive God, or the depth of our relationship with him. Our levels of comfort is also crucial to us. I’ve seen many of my deeply religious friends and colleagues soften the pedal when they left Nigeria and some even question their faith now. Improved affluence has done same to some people even here in Nigeria. Maturing in age, wisdom and faith has a lot to do with this, but there is some “backsliding” too, like that which plagued Solomon.

Amidst one of those church visits in a period where I hadn’t gone to church for four weeks and “dust” had covered my daily bread devotional, I picked up the latter to refresh. The story was that of a woman who had died and it was said that she hadn’t missed a Sunday of church for forty years. She had lived in Tennessee, the same state I was staying! I was in church the next Sunday.

Organised religion has its challenges as man infuses it with his biases and agendas. A lot of what one sees and hears may make one reject the messengers and even the message, wondering why on earth are we are here and even if there is an afterlife……forgetting those same questions led one to the new birth in the first place. There is a need to separate religion for its sake from a belief in God and a relationship with him which helps us in our call to “humanism.” We must be tolerant just like God is of us, and we must learn to focus on the truly important things. We must avoid being blindly led and we must grow in wisdom and knowledge at our own pace. We must strive to be better in what we know is truly good.

Praying us all wisdom and peace.

A special Easter greeting to my fellow Christians. As the Holy Week ends with the crux on which our faith hangs, may we resurrect to a higher place of wisdom, knowledge, praise, holiness, tolerance and love for others.

 

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LOOKING GOOD

Clothes make a man. Well maybe not, as we have to look deeper than the surface when assesssing people these days, lots of camouflage dressing out there (pun intended). However looking good can be good business, be it making money, impressing the opposite sex or just for a personal feel good vibe.

The clothing experience starts from childhood with the special birthday and Christmas outfits. This generated some excitement and a different swag which we exhibited before the word was created, or well, before we knew the meaning….shakara or ako defined us more on those days. The teenage years however brought a frustration if you were interested in dressing up. Mummy’s taste in dressing didn’t meet up anymore and that previously good tailor was also now outdated. We craved for designers which were well above our budgets. Any new shirt, trouser or shoe bought from abroad was a baff and shakara varied with the level or label. I remember saving up money to buy a winged collar shirt, a double breasted shirt, a pair of military styled camouflaged trousers and a pair high-waist baggy trousers. Rocked some junior lit fashion parades wella with those, complete with braces 🙈. I also once bought a pair of modified Raphael Cameron jodhpurs. All this was after the embarrassment of missing out on watching Lakeside at the National Theatre because I had nothing to wear. Sadly too I never got to buy zoots or tail shirts.

University days upped the ante as there were lectures, parties and girls to dress for on a daily basis. Sooner than later, you find a way to let your personality do the talking rather than the clothes which were never enough, but the occasional new shirt and shoes after scouring the entire Mandillas in Lagos Island, or as a gift from someone’s foreign travels made you shine again. The early working life with earned pay meant we could now go to boutiques to shop for clothes and shoes. Got me a pair of brown suede brogues and a brown pair of boots in that era. With more success more people made foreign trips themselves and ogled at all the clothes in all the shops and even visited outlet designer shops. Getting married (Tomi) meant having someone to help me decide on what to buy, and she also swelled my wardrobe buying me all kinds of clothing, including underwear…..changed me from “Walter Whites” to Calvin Klein 😉

Clothes as gifts continued for a while for me, as patients made up their minds to clothe me when I became a consultant. That well delivered service was rewarded with shirts, ties, cuff links, belts ,wrist watches, socks and perfumes. I once had to deliberately go out to shop for an office shirt of my taste as I hadn’t done that for about two years, thanks to all the gifts from patients. Friends and family had chipped in too, as had some elective medical students. Nigerians do have large hearts. Indeed my hospital football team once bought me an original Manchester United shirt.

Two black suits, a grey suit, two blazers, with all those shirts and accessories, and one was good to go as far as corporate dressing for work was concerned. I would have made a good church usher, dress wise 😇

As one “matured” and had to go native more occasionally than before, it was time to go back to tailored clothes. That recommended tailor was summoned to come and take measurements. He came, fully equipped with his tape rule (is that the right word), jotter and catalogue.

Where I am now, clothes don’t matter that much, it’s more about looking smart and feeling comfortable. I still wear some shirts that are 5-7 years old. The wardrobe somehow gets overhauled as aso-ebis come, as do shirts and trousers from various sources but majorly personally bought now, albeit less frequently. The feel good factor of a new clothing item still persists and that’s what prompted this write up. I just got a turtle neck sweater shirt from a childhood friend, Kunle Adewunmi, who visited home, and a denim jacket from a Facebook friend Adeyemi Ekundayo who I haven’t met in the flesh yet. The gift of friendship, the appreciation and the love from the hearts of parents, friends (special mention of Bielose Konwe), wifey, family, patients, colleagues, self and all those who have dressed me over the years, is what really makes me feel cool 😎🤗

Man’s not hot!

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The Visit

B: Knock knock.

A: Who’s there?

B: It’s me.

A: I knew it was you, you always come by about this time.

B: Well my day is hardly complete if I don’t pass through here.

A: If you say so.

B: So how are you today, although I know you are always doing good.

A: You said it. How are you as I know you always have something to talk about.

B: Well, better than most times really, the sun seems to be shining on my side of the world today.

A: That’s very good to hear. But really the sun shines everyday.

B: True, but sometimes it’s too hot, other times, not hot enough, sometimes, like today, it’s just right.

A: You may have a point there, but its purpose is to give light and it does that everyday, even when it’s cloudy. The intensity does vary but how it is perceived has to do with your state of mind, don’t you think?

B: You got me there; you always have all the answers.

A: When you have been around as long as I have, you tend to know a lot of things.

B: That’s why I come by here everyday.

A: How’s your wife?

B: Oh she’s doing ok. We are having one of our better spells. Your advice on patience really helped. I am learning more about love everyday as I appreciate her more. I really am thankful for her.

A: That’s good to hear. Like I said the commitment can be challenging but it is ultimately a precious gift if you can get it right.

B: And like you said getting it right starts by realising it’s not all about me and by learning to give more.

A: You are a good student. That rule applies to every relationship in life you know.

B: Maybe, but it’s difficult to be that way with some of my co-workers and neighbours.

A: I suppose so, but imagine if everyone applied that rule, you’d be getting as much as you are giving, if not more.

B: Right again. A recipe for world peace huh?

A: Yes, it’s what I have always hoped for.

B: The news today is bleak, not much good there. Politicians! I had to switch off the radio midway into the reports.

A: Like the sun, it depends on how you view what is news. The world has decided that bad news is the main news while most of the good news goes un-noticed.

B: Yes, and this creates a lot of tension and anxieties, leaving a lot of people with wrong perceptions.

A: Truth is that most good news happens on a personal level, while bad news happens collectively. Also not many people know what is good and what is bad.

B: You are right. I’m still making my choices. I suppose it’s a continuous process.

A: Well the truth is the truth. Some people like to sweep it under the carpet because of their selfish desires.

B: I can’t argue with that. It’s hard to argue with you on any topic.

A: It is healthy to debate issues; wisdom often presents herself in the discourse.

B: I suppose that makes shared experience a precursor to wisdom?

A: Sometimes. It depends on who, what and how the experiences are perceived.

B: Back to the perception of good and bad?

A: It always comes back to that.

B: And where does purpose come in?

A: It’s all around. Without purpose everything crumbles.

B: I’m still wondering what my purpose is.

A: Good to hear you are even thinking, many don’t. If you search, you will find it.

B: I was expecting some help from you on that, as you know everything.

A: Well since you asked, I will help you. Most people just run the race thinking it’s all about survival. Some look for purpose but dream up big philosophical ideas. Few realize it starts with the little things and people all around them; at work, at home, among friends and in the community. That’s where Mother Theresa and all the other unsung heroes started.

B: You mean it’s back to “the good and bad, not about me, and giving discourse” again.

A: You learn fast. I hope you practice what you learn.

B: That’s the challenge, and I suppose that’s why I come here everyday. The more I hear it, the more I’m convinced of it and the more I’m encouraged to do it.

A: You can always depend on me for all that and much more.

B: I know. Thank you Lord.

A: I bless you.

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TWENTY ONE YEARS OLD

ON THIS DAY TWENTY ONE YEARS AGO

1.32am, or thereabouts, 1st January 1996
I lay in bed listening to the persistent noise of the fireworks, my mind not exactly blank. It wasn’t the best time to make a new year resolution, or resolutions, but I was just getting round to it then. Staring into the darkness brought some inspiration, fuelled by the sermon and feelings from the watch night service a few hours earlier. My current situation of being a medical officer who was yet to find a plane, scared of commitment cause I wasn’t sure of my future, night life in Lagos becoming risky as crime prevailed and the feeling of emptiness and uncertainty also made me think. I was time to focus on one of the two biggest decisions in life according to me. That was my relationship with God. The second decision, on who I was going to marry, would still have to wait. I wasn’t ready to join the “get born again” band wagon that was gripping the country and a lot of people I knew. I would get closer to God on my terms; read the bible more, pray more and go to church more. I would be fine I guessed as I faded into sleep

BREAD
“….give us this day our daily bread.” So I started reading that simple devotional, Our Daily Bread, everyday. It was quite fascinating to read as I got answers to some questions I had always wondered about from it. Suddenly faith seemed wider than I had presumed and I was getting fed with knowledge. The simple prayers were also enough. I still use that devotional till date….

PEACE
April, Olumide Ajayi and I were in Yaba and decided to see our friend Ejike Egedo who had dropped out of the social scene for some months. Unfortunately he wasn’t home and we left a message. A week later we were at a committee meeting of our Alma Mata, and I was informed that Ejike had died during the week. I was distraught! I couldn’t eat and tears welled up in my eyes remembering my fellow front row classmate over the years in secondary school. We had drank beer together the year before. It always hurts to lose someone close. I was the informed that his recent absence was because he had become born again, was more involved in church matters and even ran a youth ministry. On hearing this, I felt a peace I couldn’t understand. My sadness lifted as I ate and continued with the banter. Later that night I wondered, if I died that day, would I have peace?

NIGHT VIGIL
I was the only one in my family yet to be converted. Every last Friday as the family headed out for a church night vigil, I was off to Sea Garden to fellowship with Lagbaja and some friends. However our spirits were always united in worship when Lagbaja did his customary praise and worship sessions. The bread I had been eating made me enjoy those sessions. Ultimately one Friday night in November, Lagbaja and methylated spirit couldn’t lift my spirits anymore and the next day I made a decision to stop drinking alcohol.

THE APOSTLE
My home boy Kayode Oremakinde came visiting from England in December. Kayode and I had rocked UI, UCH and Lagos together. He is one of those who is close like a brother. It was nice to see him again. But Kayode had changed. He was now born again. Thankfully he respected my situation of not being in that fold as the love of brotherhood was strong. However he found me asking him questions he was delighted to answer as I got more knowledge. On a trip to Ibadan we had a car mishap and had to go to the Redemption Camp to get help. Kayode was convinced the reason for the mishap was for us to go to what was seen by many as heaven in Nigeria. Heaven in the sense that it was where the largest number of self proclaimed Christians gathered to worship at a time. It was a weekday so human traffic there was scant but it was interesting to see the grounds. It caused me to ask Kayode one lingering question in my search, what would like in heaven be like? No strife, no ugly sentiments, jut praising God forever and ever? Sounded boring and unrealistic to me. He gave me the best answer ever, that the human mind as it is now cannot comprehend what heaven is like. We would only know when and if we got there…….

THE VOICE
A few years earlier, while in Med School, when I heard my friend and classmate Sola Fola Alade had become born again, I had asked him exactly how it happened. He said God came to him and spoke to him directly. It sounded eerie and a bit like he had lost his mind. I accepted it with a pinch of salt but respected him as I watched him stand in his faith the rest of the journey in Med School and beyond.
About 8pm on the 23rd of December, this day in my history, I was in my room in the dark. I heard the question asked, what more do you need to know? What other questions do you have?
I struggled to find some enquiries but couldn’t find any. I was full of bread, vigil elevations and the words of the apostles. I felt the need for peace. I answered the altar call and knelt down in submission to the yearning from the depth of my being. Christmas was different that year.

EPILOGUE
It’s been quite a journey in the new life thus far. The ticking clock bringing new experiences, successes and failures in the walk, more understanding and some confusion. However, the peace remains. I will expansiate on this epilogue someday but for now I will pause and reflect with joy on the last twenty one years. I will end this Christ Mass sermon with a prayer of peace for you. Merry Christmas.

 

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