Philip opened the door with his usual skill, and eased out from the house, looking to the left and the right. He covered his head with his hood and walked forward into the night. He was leaving the city.
Once he announced his intentions to marry Amaka, the world turned against him. First, his parents took him to their Pastor, and after all the talk, threatened to disown him. The Pastor watched them leave the room and didn’t say a word to dissuade them but turned to Philip.
“My son, how can God ask you to marry a well-known street girl? Does that sound like God to you?” He asked.
Philip wanted to ask him if they thought he was insane to cook up such a story. He didn’t but kept mute and waited for the Pastor to finish, thanked him, and left the office.
His parents kicked him out of the main house and asked him to stay in the Boy’s quarters of their three-story mansion. Philip thanked God, knowing it could have been worse. He could have endured all the disrespectful, and ridiculous behavior from his parents, and the house staff, if they hadn’t taken the problem to the office. Philip worked for his parents.
They owned a large Electronics shop, which he managed. He didn’t understand how the news reached the office, but before he could blink, people started giving him the stares and talking behind him. After a week of social distancing from his staff and some friends, Philip decided he couldn’t cope anymore. He would leave town for a while and look for a place to think.
The night he left, he felt relief. As he covered his head and strode to the gate and out the house, He smiled. He was on his way to the next town, where John, his friend, waited. They spoke at length in the afternoon, and John promised him a room in his house, and work in the factory where he worked. Philip walked faster, the promise of an escape from his life egging him on.
One thing nagged his mind, Amaka. He shook his head inside the bus. He was not leaving her or saying no to God; he just needed time out. A place to rest from people. So, he was justified.
John seemed happy to see Philip, who arrived early the next morning and welcomed him. John lived in a 2-bedroom apartment in the town. Philip was grateful for John’s kindness; anything was better than home. John asked him to rest for the day. They would be going to the factory, early the next morning. John left for work, and Philip slept, his problem was solved.
The next day, John took him to the factory and introduced Philip to his new Supervisor. Philip could not believe the conversation that followed. When the introductions were over, and John excused himself, Philip excused himself and followed his friend. Outside the Supervisor’s office, John turned to Philip, smiling.
“What’s up, Philip, any problems?”John asked.
Philip looked at him, wide-eyed for a while.
“Thank you for the job opportunity; however, is there nothing else I can do as a Master’s holder in this factory?” Philip asked.
John smiled and shook his head as he looked down. When he looked at Philip again, no trace of the smile remained.
“Philip, you are still a child. You expected that because you are a Master’s holder, we would make you the manager here like you are in your parents’ business? No, you should have asked for my job as well; after all, I don’t have a Master’s degree. Listen, not all of us were born to rich parents and had the world handed to us. I started here from the same position, on the factory floor, cleaning spare parts, and I grew from there to where I am now. The position is the only one available for now, take it or leave it.” John said, and walked away.
Philip couldn’t believe the words John hurled at him. Childish, silver-spooned, what?
He looked for the way out of the factory and walked out, not intending to go back. A few meters into his revolt, Philip asked himself how he would survive? John would be upset and not want to feed a job seeker. How long after his savings ran out, would he continue to beg his friends? Philip turned, slowly, heart-broken, and went back into the factory. He sought out the Supervisor and asked for the position.
After the first week, John stopped providing food. When the month ended, he asked Philip for half the money to pay the landlord for utilities. Philip said nothing and gave John the money. It meant he had next to nothing at the end of the day, which he was sure John knew.
Philip worked in the factory for three months and adapted to living in survival mode. He thought of God, who abandoned him, and Amaka, the cause of his problems, less and less. The more he scraped and hustled, the happier John seemed. His friend would come home, boasting about his achievements at work. John would invite his girlfriend over and rub it in Philip’s face; he couldn’t afford one as fine as she was. John bought a car, a brand used for purchases in Philip’s parent’s business, and told Philip to wait for five years to buy one.
The weirder John got, the more Philip believed John wanted him out of his house. It continued until one night after work, John accused Philip of stealing his perfume. Philip walked out of John’s house, checking his pockets for money. He was returning to his parents that night.
Filled with rage and not minding where he walked, a motorcyclist without a horn didn’t see him on time, and therefore could not apply his brakes. Philip felt a blow to his right leg, heard it snap, and went down. Pain gave way to darkness.
Philip woke up in a pile of dirt, and the odor cut off his breath. He looked around him and tried to get out of the rubbish heap, but realized it was sticky. The more he tried to extract himself, the deeper he sank.
“Where are you going?” A voice said, from the right.
Philip turned and saw an old woman, with thick white hair, seated on a kitchen stool. She leaned on her walking stick with both hands.
“What do you think you are doing?” She said.
What he was doing should have been obvious, but he explained, hoping she might help.
“I am trying to get out of this sticky refuse pile. Can you call people to help?”
“Why, I thought you liked it there? She said.
Philip’s mouth dropped open, and then he looked at her closely. Maybe the old lady had a gap in her brain. Deciding that was the case, he looked away and continued trying.
“You were given an assignment you abandoned, and preferred squalor to the abundance your father planned for you.”
Philip stopped and looked at the lady. “Madam, I am not who you think I am.” He said and dismissed her again.
“Philip, wake up!” She said and stood. “God offered you abundant life, but you chose poverty, dirt, and death instead. Why? Fear? You heard God, why didn’t you believe?”
Once again, Philip was speechless.
“Where am I?” He said, after a while.
“Does it matter? I asked you a question.” She said.
Philip remained silent; he shook with anger.
“Answer me, Philip. What happened to your faith?”
“Where was God? Where was he when everything around me went up in flames? Didn’t he see my family disown me, and the Pastor write me off? People scorned me everywhere I went, and John, the poorest kid in school, a guy I clothed and fed, treats me like his servant. All because of God.” He said and turned to her.
“All things work together for good, right. Well, it’s for bible characters like Paul and John. Nothing in God is working for me.” He said and continued trying to get out, dismissing her a third time.
“Listen, you will remain in this filth until you remember who your help is.” She said, and walked away.
Philip didn’t turn around, nor did he acknowledge her words. He kept trying, using all his might, trying different techniques, and after a while, started shouting for help. He went deeper into the mire and started losing strength. Philip continued in this till the bog swallowed his body up to his neck.
Weakness took over from a deep sadness, which filled his heart. Like a rock, it seemed to pull him deeper into the darkness.
“Father, please help me, forgive me. In my weakness, you are my strength. Have mercy.” He said and stopped struggling.
Philip woke up on a hospital bed. They wrapped his forehead with bandage and his leg in a cast. The rubbish heap had been a dream. He sighed in relief and inhaled to assure himself. He lay back to rest when a nurse walked up to his bed. Philip turned to ask for water when he saw the nurse and stopped in shock.
“It’s good to see you again, Philip.” The woman by the mire said. She walked without her stick and with agility, though the white hair remained. She stood by his side and held his hand.
“The Father asks you to trust Him, even when you don’t know what’s next or tomorrow. He will deliver you out of the mire. He will not allow it to swallow you. Trust God, trust in Jesus, and pay attention to the Holy Spirit. You are a child of God. Now get better and go home.” She said, smiling.
Tears ran down Philip’s eyes as she departed, and as another nurse came with his medicine.
Till next time, be transformed!!