“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4 NKJV
Data is gold. Connected to the web, we flick and thumb through all kinds of information and service, free and paid. We work, train, collaborate, network, teach, e.t.c on the internet. It would seem like life as we know it runs on data. Some people go as far as living their daily lives connected, from dawn till past midnight, to them it’s essential.
Imagine living connected to Christ, all the time. Plugged in, and alive in His life. To see life the way He sees, do the things He did and more, and to live like Him. By abiding or connecting to Him, we are enabled to access the throne of God wherever we are and in whatever we are doing. The possibilities of what we can do with the Holy Spirit are endless.
Most of us believe we need Christ for different things, not for life as a whole. We believe that He can help us with some parts of our lives, with dire situations, our jobs, families, schools, etc. However, we can take care of the rest. The plan is for God to be part of every aspect of life, no matter how small. Every second of every minute of every hour has been accounted for by Him. The rest that we don’t need God for are the ones we hustle and strive to achieve; working by ourselves, for ourselves.
God knows our end from our beginning in His plan, and has empowered us to live and do beyond what we can ask for and think. If the God that created the universe is in your life, can it remain one that can be defined by you?
There is more to you, to me, and to the Church.
To know is to ask, and to ask is by faith. In Christ, by the Holy Spirit, wisdom is available to us. So is knowledge, power, grace, and mercy, but for what? Why you, and why me? It is time for all of us to be plugged in, to know Him, and to build as He has given us grace.
There is a blank page opened up every day for us by the Father. Grace and mercy are poured upon us in Christ, fresh, daily. Who is writing on the blank pages of our day? Who is in control of what happens in our lives, regardless of all Jesus died to obtain for us? All we need to live God’s life are available, so the question is, what are we connected to?
Jesus said in John 15, “stay connected to me and live out your destiny.” My paraphrase.
‘The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He brought them out of it. ‘ Acts 13:17
Over 400 years, they waited, telling their stories from generation to generation. The children that heard the words of Joseph became ancestors, the next generation brought another, and so on. So many waited and died waiting. Many experienced a compassionate Egypt, others, a changing Egypt, and lastly, the cruel one. Most were born into the era of cruelty, slavery, and shame, no longer willing or able to listen to fables about a God that abandoned His people. They sought the gods of Egypt, the ones they could see and touch.
Life continued, hard, bitter, unchanging for the one’s God called His own. It was easy to forget who they were. Nothing in the long days and hot nights proved the stories true. The Egyptians remained the ruling class because they owned the land. The Israelites kept asking generation after generation, why God allowed it? He had promised them a land, their land, flowing with milk and honey, why stay in Egypt?
They were the people of God, His chosen ones.
He did keep His promise and delivered them as the stories foretold. He exalted them above other nations and took them to the land of promise. They withstood those who occupied their God-given lands and took them by force, empowered, and led by God.
He has also delivered us from the kingdom of darkness and moved us to the kingdom of the son. Our lives are not hard and bitter because His grace and mercies are new every morning. We are not living under the burden of the enemy because God came down in His son, Jesus Christ, and died for us to be free. We are not waiting for an earthly promised land, for God has seated us in Christ Jesus in the heavenly places, or so we say.
The paragraph above is our reality in Christ, but how many of us are living it? Some of us are still in Egypt waiting for the deliverer and the promised land, while some have turned to the lesser gods they can see and touch for salvation. Yes, life here on earth may challenge our sonship and dare us to stand, but do we know who we are? Have we understood our positions in Christ, and stood in the Most High, regardless? Have we stood in His time and not ours?
‘He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.’ Ecclesiastes 3:11
‘Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God. They have bowed down and fallen; But we have risen and stand upright.’ Psalms 20:7-8
Curtis walked the streets of Lagos with a slant. He abandoned the twice-repaired heel of his left shoe in front of the last office he visited. The sun beat down on his back like a drum, so the mixture of sweat raining down his body, and the mask he had to wear, wore the boy down. A 25-year old graduate of Economics, with no hope of employment. He sloshed his way home, amidst the stares he garnered, from Lagos island to his house, behind the market in Oshodi. He ignored the taunts and laughter aimed at him in front of the two-bedroom back house he lived in with his mother.
Curtis didn’t enter the house. He went straight to the back, dropped his folder in the kitchen, and took a plastic bucket to the tap situated there. Curtis filled the pail to the brim and carried it to the bathroom, built behind the house. There he removed everything he wore, from the stained white shirt to the heel-less shoe. He imagined that he scrubbed away the shame and pain that tagged along that day, the hopelessness that plagued him all the time, so he could show his mother a smiling face on her return.
She returned at 7 pm, and Curtis met her at the door, as he always did. A ready smile on his face, he asked her all the obligatory questions as he helped her to the kitchen. He stayed with her as she warmed their dinner on the stove and helped carry the food to the house where they ate. They discussed nothing of great importance as they ate, no questions asked. His mother watched the small tube T.V, while Curtis washed up, hoping she would fall asleep before he finished washing the dishes.
He opened the door to the house and entered. The T.V was on, and his mother snored on the sofa, his make-shift bed. On a better day, he would wake her up to go into her room, but not today. He sat on the floor by the sofa and prayed that she would continue to sleep till morning. His luck ran out at midnight.
Ijeoma, his mother, woke up with a start and looked around. She saw Curtis on the floor sleeping and shook her head.
“Curtis, Curtis, wake up.” She said as she tapped him on the back.
The boy sat up with a frown and rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand.
“It’s late mama, I need my rest for tomorrow. Go back to sleep.” He said, and lay back on the floor, turning towards the wall.
“How long will you live like this, my son?”
He did not respond.
“I saw your shoe. I will give you some money to repair it tomorrow.”
He didn’t turn around or get up from his position. “We don’t have enough to repair the shoe, mama. Don’t worry, I will wear my sneakers from tomorrow.”
“Don’t be silly. Sneakers to look for work? Who would hire you?”
“We are in the new normal now, mama. People are hiring all sorts for different purposes. I will find work in my sneakers, don’t worry about me.”
“I am not worried about your job search, my son, just your heart. Anyway, God is with you.”
Curtis muttered and hissed.
“What was that? Curtis, did you just make that sound at me?”
He still did not turn to her. “I’m sorry.” It was quiet, reluctant.
“Turn to me if you have something to say. Say it like the man you are.”
Curtis sat up and turned. It took him ten seconds, and he bit his lip, praying for control. It didn’t work.
“A man, mama? A 25-year old that has to watch his mother hawk food on the road to make ends meet. Did you just call me a man? I listen to uncle Toby thrash me left, right, and center anytime we beg for money. Do you see other men my age anywhere in this neighborhood? No. Those are men, mama. They understood the way long ago and took it while I depended on Jesus. Well, here I am a man.”
His mother scoffed, and he turned to the wall, tears falling from his face. He wiped them away, angry.
“Curtis, Curtis, I have watched you for a while now, struggling with yourself and your faith.” She smiled.” You have just started life, and you are this bitter, what will happen as you advance, my son?” She moved close to where he sat on the floor and tapped him on the shoulder. When he turned to her, she patted the space she made for him on the sofa. He stood from the ground and sat by her.
“Hmm, all your life, I have tried to impress on you the need to look up. My life is not yours, don’t make that mistake. What you see is wrong. You watch me come and go, thinking that the life I live in this world consumes me. I walk out of that door every day rejoicing because God already provided food and shelter, by His grace. I don’t care about tomorrow, nor about what people think or say. All I know is that I have a God who cares. Why have you allowed your daily existence to consume you, Curtis?
He shook his head.” Mama, you cannot understand. Am I not the man of the house? Shouldn’t I be caring for you, enabling you to live well? I have continued to fail at this, and it is eating my heart out. Every day, I see you carry your foodstuff back home from a hard day’s work, and I want to say sorry, to apologize for being such a failure.”
Ijeoma laughed; it was short and harsh.” You wear defeat like a robe. If you continue in this way, there is no need to step out of that door any longer. I taught you about God from childhood and about His kingdom. You have allowed the lie that strength is in horses and chariots to consume you. Remember God, Curtis, remember how we have lived all these years. I have smiled and rejoiced, not mourned my circumstances, so why have you allowed depression to beat the life out of you? God allows man to fall and raises another up, His will, His way. Why have you chosen to bow down and fall?”
She stood up and stretched. “God’s mercies and grace are new every morning. He allows us a reset with every new day. Take it, Curtis, and live before Him.” Ijeoma held his face up, so she could look into his eyes. “I am your mother, and I am so proud of you. Nobody except God could be prouder. Sleep, son, and rise up to a new day.”
She turned and left him there. The money for his shoes and bus fare for the next day lay on top of the sofa.
‘Come, and let us return to the Lord; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, That we may live in His sight.’ Hosea 6:1-2
Philip and most of the Christians in Jerusalem left their homes, jobs, and lives when the persecution started. They ran away, or so it seemed.
Saul victimized the Christians in Jerusalem, abusing them as the enemies of the law. He ransacked Christian homes, businesses, and meeting points with his men, declaring them desecrators of the holy place. Saul caused chaos in Jerusalem, punishing, and committing Christians to prison; he had to destroy the ‘cult’ of Christ. Most of the Christians left Jerusalem, drifting all over the region to different locations away from the law, or so Saul thought.
Philip went to Samaria. The Bible records that the Samaritans stood as one in their belief in Christ because of him. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Philip preached the word and performed miracles, and as scripture foretold, God gave them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; they became plantings of the Lord. The Holy Spirit worked through Samaria, leading Philip in the spirit, from location to location. That wasn’t just Philip’s story; there were others. Is that how a persecuted church lives? Shouldn’t they have been hiding in caves and underground, losing their faith and having changed mind-sets?
Now, for the real story. In the fullness of time, the scattered church spread the gospel beyond Jerusalem, and as you know, it continued to spread reaching you and I. Though persecution seemed to cause chaos in the lives of the Jerusalem Christians, most of them knew that they were already free in Christ. They continued free, not held down by time, location, persecution, or Saul. The Spirit of God empowered them, and that’s all they needed. Most of these people abandoned careers, businesses, and lives in Jerusalem, and God cared for them.
We carry the Spirit of wisdom, revelation, and power. There is no excuse to get entangled in any yoke the enemy tries to confuse us with, except we have forgotten who we are. Nothing can hold us down. Philip left Jerusalem, not beaten down by the strength of the persecution, but renewed by God’s Spirit for His glory, ready for the next chapter of his life.
That is also true for us now. There may be an epidemic, hunger, loss of jobs, confusion, and death, but scripture encourages us to stand fast in the freedom Christ wrought for us on the cross. It wasn’t in vain, and the power of God surpasses everything that might stand against us. Where there is Christ, there is victory, and though you may not see it, you have it in Him, so arise. You have freedom, don’t exist, live.
‘For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. ‘ I Corinthians 2:11
Ekene loves God. An accountant in an upcoming startup, she enjoys her relationships with colleagues and has made few friends. Ekene’s day starts with prayer, talking to God about her life and expectations. She would also pray for her family, and sing praises, from the bedroom to the bathroom. Assisted by her phone, the praise songs continue till she is ready for work.
At 6:30 am, armed with her laptop bag and coffee mug, Ekene would enter her car and drive to work. Once there, she would focus on tasks with her productivity system. She has an app that routes priority emails to a database that she opens up once work starts, so she knows what to tackle right off the bat. She has templates created for responding to different queries and doesn’t have to draft new responses all the time. A time tracking tool, a checklist of tasks to tackle, schedule developed the day before to ensure she meets deadlines, and a podcast or online course during her break period. Ekene is efficient.
At 5 pm, she would get back into her car, exhausted, but grateful that she completed all or most of her tasks for the day. On the road for an hour, forty-five minutes, a tired Ekene settles down at home to focus on the TV shows she follows, to de-stress.
At 9 pm, she would take a bath and prepare for bed. After her bath, though, she would organize her schedule for the next day and fit everything into her to-do list. The alarm on her watch beeps at 10 pm, time to sleep. She puts off the bedside lamp and sighs with relief, grateful for the end of another productive day. Before she dozes off, the nagging questions rear their heads again. What next? Is this it?
There is another Ekene, the spirit. She looks like Ekene and lives in her. This Ekene is the one that connects to God. However, she is always more or less forgotten. Each morning, she would try to relate to God’s Spirit, but would be cut off when the physical decides it’s time to end the prayer. The spirit would continue to try during the day and night, in times of worship, praise, or whenever the physical is inspired and thinks about God. Her spirit knows her and appreciates all her work, but knows that true life isn’t lived in the physical. A child of God dwells in the spiritual, by connecting to God’s Spirit.
The spirit asks those nagging questions, hoping that the physical would pick them up and run. She hopes that the physical would dig deep and ask herself what and where the source of life dwells. The spirit is aware that connection to God’s Spirit would give Ekene God’s life and enable her beyond her abilities. Residing with God’s Spirit would lead, instruct, and train Ekene in excellence. What the physical has achieved may be good, but the spirit knows there is much more.
The king and priest before God in Christ is the spirit-man. The one to arise out of darkness is the same. When we look to the physical-man and expect greatness, we fail. The one to keep renewed, alert, and ready is the spirit, the one that calls to God, and He shows up. The scriptural references to Christ’s physical form were limited, not much was said. However, when the Spirit of God took over, Israel knew. No matter what we can achieve in the physical, it cannot be compared to what we become when our spirit connects to the Spirit of God. He knows the plan of God for every individual and how we can achieve those plans.
‘Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For Yah , the Lord , is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation. Therefore with joy you will draw water From the wells of salvation.’ Isaiah 12:2-3
“This Moses whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him in the bush.” Acts 7:35
Moses stood before a burning bush that didn’t burn, before a God he couldn’t see trembling. God told him that he would deliver Israel out of bondage. A disgraced prince, one who failed a people who were his by birth, he chose to remain in the background, the safest place he thought to be. With Jethro and his kinsmen, Moses found a new family, a future, and a new life. He was comfortable with the life he created for himself, far away from the disaster in Egypt, far from his destiny.
The drama surrounding his life started from his birth, the King of drama himself, orchestrated it. He pulled strings here and there, fit people to do this and that, slotted in props where ever and whenever they were needed until Moses arrived at the place God wanted him. From the time Moses fled Egypt to the call at the burning bush, forty long years had passed. Did God need all that time? Why Moses? In the end, Moses became the man God created him to be, and his life continued to speak after his death.
Are we to believe like Moses that we exist just because? Like Moses, our life experiences may talk us into thinking that we are less than we are. Are we to hide away from destiny in some backwater life, licking our wounds and pretending that all is well?
There is a purpose for every life God has made. The Drama King himself built the stage for us, with characters, props, and the right settings. His plays have different timelines, and for one to succeed, it must follow His set times and seasons. We are alive today because He worked behind the scenes to pull strings, fit in people, and slot in props for us. Believe in God, and continue to ask for your part in the play. How can we give up on living never-ending lives, yes, death cannot stop us, we live on.
God called Moses out from the life he built for himself to the adventure of a lifetime. He knew the stakes before he took on the job and made it. Jesus came to the world, understanding who He was born to be and what God expected and excelled. Grace assures us of the fact that in Christ, we are also God’s children, heirs to His kingdom. Don’t wallow in what life has thrown at you, arise into the destiny God created for you. Arise into the space of the all-knowing. His Spirit will guide us daily, and in His life, we find life. So, arise today and play your part.
“And he said, “Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.” Acts 7:2-3
My assignment yesterday was to write out a story outline, I chose to use Ruth’s story. As the profile took shape, I made a mistake in my account of the story. These were my words, “quick-thinking Naomi knew that she had to secure Ruth’s future and asked her to glean barley from Boaz’s field.” That’s not how it happened. The Bible says that Ruth left home to glean barley from any field in which she found favor from its owner. She left her land and family for an unknown God and unknown land, and God blessed her and led her in Bethlehem. I wrote about Ruth in The Choice –https://transformationplace.blog/2020/01/08/the-choice/
God spoke to Abram and told him to follow. To go to where? A land God would show him, an unknown place. Abram did not doubt or argue, he just packed his family and set off as instructed. Were there prior instructions about feeding, housing, and family upkeep? No. The book of Hebrews says that Abram dwelt in tents in the land God had promised him, for he waited for the city whose builder and maker is God. (Heb 11:9,10)
It wasn’t about the destination, it was about the journey. The daily trust in an unseen and unknown God led Abram through deaths, separations, childlessness, and fruitfulness, to an understanding of God. God did make him a great nation, and all the families of the earth are blessed because of Abram.
Humans love fairytale-like lives that have beginnings, the middle, and forever after endings, with all the details available. This is not so with God. God is not flesh and cannot be contained in a story written by humans. He is Spirit, all-knowing, all-powerful, and to know Him, is to walk into the unknown, to walk by faith. God said to Abram, “Follow me, and I will make you live out the destiny I laid out for you before you were born.” (My paraphrase)
From childhood, we accept what we like from our surroundings and drop the undesirables. This is because we see the benefits of one and the disadvantages of the other. Adults invest in relationships, jobs, projects that we deem beneficial because they seem so. Today, some people would take what God asked Abram to do as suicide. To go to where? With who? How? Questions that would immediately arise.
Now, we may not know where to go, how to fend for ourselves, or what the future holds, God is asking us to follow Him into the unknown. He is asking us to walk by faith in the creator of the universe, the one who holds tomorrow. I see Ruth, who was favored by God (though unaware of it) because of a choice she made. I see Abram, blessed beyond any human’s wildest dreams, because he obeyed.
Yes, we don’t know tomorrow, but we know who does. Things may seem tight all over the world, but our Father has told us not to worry about anything, but to bring all our worries and fears to Him, for He cares and loves us. It does seem today that we have two choices:
To continue walking in fear and worry about the unknown
To walk by faith and rest in God who owns and controls the unknown, fashioning it into whatever pleases Him.
“but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:31 NKJV
How do we believe?
If the pumping set in the picture above stops, the water stops to flow. Take this picture and apply it to a patient lying on a hospital bed, attached through tubes to a machine keeping her alive. The device is showing that her heart is beating, meaning that it’s pumping blood in and out. When her heart stops, the patient dies.
The heart is the powerhouse of the body. Its function is to pump blood in, and out as waste throughout the day. It does this every second of every minute of every hour, with no breaks. When it can’t perform this function, it becomes weak, and in the worst-case scenario, the person dies.
MedicalNewsToday states this about the heart, “Although we rarely consider it, the heart is an essential and powerful organ. It pumps oxygen and nutrients around our body constantly, never pausing. Powered by muscles and perfectly synchronized by electrical signals, it’s one of nature’s finest feats of engineering.”
Nature’s finest feats? The heart is a strong machine none the less that keeps us alive.
Throughout scripture, there are phrases like, “Trust the Lord with all your heart,” “believe in your heart,” “Love the Lord your God with all your heart,” “Let not your heart be troubled;”
The powerhouse of the body is the heart, and the powerhouse of the spiritual being is also the heart, God’s dwelling place. So what is God asking of us? To believe in His presence in our lives, so that our spiritual hearts can pump life. God wants our powerhouses to beat round the clock, around his throne in us, taking in what we need from Him and carrying what we don’t need away as waste.
In Christ, our spiritual hearts should be loading up on His life, to pump it throughout our bodies, so that all our confessions and speech become truth, the word of God. If our powerhouses are getting life supply from God, why would we be troubled? Our hearts would be at rest, and in times when the heart rate speeds up, the Comforter would be there to calm us down.
We must check our spiritual hearts to assess what it is pumping. When Christ is enthroned in our hearts, and all we do is believe, we have and manifest His life. The powerhouse continues to pump, whether we are awake or asleep, with no need to worry. The lungs guard the heart on both sides, and our spiritual hearts also need protection. The Holy Spirit will teach us how to guard our hearts.
May our spiritual hearts continue to pump life, that is Christ.
This was the race of Kene’s life. He had practiced long and hard, and though he didn’t look like a natural-born sportsman, his mentor told him he had a fighting chance. The race was a long-distance, individual track event, and he was there to win. As the athletes stepped on to the track, Kene gazed at the other competitors. They were five in number, including him.
Number one looked strong and ready to go, pacing up and down, his nostrils flaring. Number two was wearing a neon yellow outfit with lemon-green stripes. The colors made Kene’s head spin, was the man also advertising sportswear? Number three was warming up on the ground, breathing in through his nose and out through the mouth, Kene thought to do that as well. He noticed the fourth runner, a tall and lithe looking fellow, who was drinking water and smiling at some girls on the sidelines. The whistle blew.
“Kene, Kene, listen.”
Kene turned to his mentor, who was on the sidelines and maintained eye contact.
“Remember the 5 tricks of the track and where your focus must be. I will be running with you all the way, just listen to me and only me.”
Kene nodded and turned back to the track. One of the runners by his side chuckled.
“Guy, your mentor, will run the whole way with you? Why do you need that, do you have health issues? You look like you do, though, all skin and bones.”
Kene turned to see who was asking him questions, the other runners were laughing at him. Number one didn’t laugh, he kept looking at Kene with narrowed eyes, waiting for his response.
“Without my mentor, I won’t make it. My mentor helps me with the boost I need when I can’t go on, and to get me to the finish line.” Kene wasn’t sure who had asked the questions, but he answered, looking at number one.
They all knelt down to get ready, and when the umpire fired the gun, they took off. Kene’s mentor ran by his side, encouraging him.
“Swing your arms faster, Kene, keep going.”
“Keep going, honey, don’t stop.” A girl called out to number four from the stands, and as he turned to smile at her, he tripped on his other leg and fell. He had to start the race from the beginning.
Kene slowed down.
“What do you say?” His mentor shouted.
“I will make it by God’s grace,” Kene shouted.
“I will make it, by God’s grace,” Kene shouted again.
Number two slowed down, laughing. He turned to look at Ekene, “I will make it by God’s grace.” He mimicked. Kene realized that he was the one who had asked the questions at the beginning.
Kene took off.
“Don’t think about anything else but the prize that awaits at the finish line. Do not let your mind be clouded by doubts, fears, or shame, just focus on the finish line.” The mentor shouted as he ran with him.
Number two sped past him, and the fans cheered. His colorful outfit setting him apart, making the media and news teams focus on him alone. He was enjoying the attention and stopped to dance a jig for the crowd. They went berserk, calling his name and cheering him on. He smiled and blew them kisses. Number three was sprinting hard and focusing on number two’s foolery when he ran into the wrong lane by mistake, and they both went down. They were asked to start from the beginning.
Kene couldn’t believe it, not number three.
“Focus, Kene. Your eyes on the prize.”
Kene nodded and sprinted away. Number one had also witnessed everything and ran with all his might, the race was tight. He whizzed past Kene and kept going, intent on winning. Kene looked at him as he sped past, the buff body, the face set in an I-must-win stance, and looked at his mentor.
“Run your race and make it to the finish line. What if he finishes first, so? Just do your best and get there as well.” The mentor said, running close to Kene.
Kene nodded and focused on his lane, number three’s mistake would not repeat itself.
He was on the lane closest to the center. His mentor had helped get him that position, but with number one’s speed…
“Kene, focus, you are losing speed.”
Kene took off again.
“Keep your hands loose and breathe through your nose. Keep going.”
Kene kept running, and turning the corner, he saw the white tape. Number one was sprinting towards it, and Kene didn’t know how he could win against the athlete’s speed and strength.
“Keep going, son. It’s not by might, nor by power.”
Kene nodded, smiling, and took off, sprinting toward the finish line. He noticed something weird happening to number one but doubted. Number one was slowing down, but that couldn’t be, who would start slowing down on the last lap. When he ran past the fellow, Kene’s mouth dropped open. Number one was slowing down and clutching his midsection, pain etched on his face like a second cloth.
“Keep going, Kene. You are almost there.”
Kene sprinted to the finish line and cut the tape, he had won. He turned to see number one being carried from the track on a stretcher still holding his middle. Kene’s mentor ran to him and enfolded him in a bear hug.
“Congratulations, son, you made it.”
“How, what happened to number one?”
The mentor looked at the retreating stretcher. “Like most men, he believed that one can run the race of life alone. Without God, you don’t stand a chance. Well done, son!”
Tony’s teacher had died. On a Monday morning, while the community awoke and bustled to do business, the man was asleep, drunk. Even in sleep, he fought to stay under, away from the light. He was running from the nothingness that awaited him in the day. You see, with his teacher’s death, all hope of a career in teaching, his reason for being was gone. He stayed under, reveled in it, grateful for the darkness.
“Tony, open the door.” Someone was trying to beat down the door.
Tony woke up, eyes closed, head pounding. He groaned as he tried to open his eyes, the pain was intense, had he gone blind?
“Anthony, come out here now!”
Tony sat up and opened his eyes, then winced. He crawled out of bed and looked for clothes to cover himself. His mother could not see him in this state. He opened the door slightly, the rays from the sun had decided that their task for the day was to blind him, Tony moved away from the door.
“Enter, mama. Welcome.”
His mother entered with Tandi, Tony wasn’t expecting that. He turned away from them and gritted his teeth.
“Why did you bring her here?” He asked.
“I wanted to come. I forced your mother to let me. I had to see you, husband.” Tandi said, her speech quiet. An oddity for such a lively girl.
Tony didn’t turn around. “Mama, as you can see, I’m not in good shape. Teacher has died and I must look for another way to survive and provide for the family. Let Tandi return to her family, I give her permission to…to marry another.”
His mother walked up to him, turned him to face her, and slapped him. “That was for disrespecting your teacher by the life you are living. For disrespecting me and Tandi, who has been waiting for you for five years. How dare you?” She turned away from him, tears falling from her face and looked around his room. “Get out. Your wife and I will clean this filth and cook your breakfast, then we will talk about our reason for visiting.” She strode to his bed and started removing the sheets.
The slap was still ringing in Tony’s ear, he didn’t spare Tandi a glance and walked out. He went to the foot of the Orange tree in the compound and sat, face down, his spirit beaten. There was no way anyone could go any lower than he had.
An hour later, Tandi stood before him. “Husband, food is ready. Come and eat.” She stood there, waiting for him to speak or move. When he did neither, she turned back to the house, her own tears falling.
“I will only cause you pain, Tandi. I don’t know where to go from here or how to take care of my immediate household. I have failed as a provider, and I care too much to allow you to suffer as well.”
She strode back to him. He could feel the anger with her every step towards him.
“My life was never in your hands to decide my fate. God gave me to you, and only God can cut this relationship off. I choose you as you chose me five years ago, when we exchanged hearts. You have no right to throw me away, no right.” She strode back to the house.
Tony got up from the ground and dusted the back of his shirt. He smiled at her anger and the depths of her love for him, the first smile in a while. Something else, an extinguished light, flickered on in his heart. It was a low flicker, almost imperceptible, but it was there. He walked into his room and breathed in the fresh air and the smell of washing soap. The windows had been opened up, and all the dirty clothes washed, he could see them drying on the line behind his room.
His mother walked in.” Sit down, Tandi is bringing you water.” She said as she laid the tray of rice on the floor by his bed. He sat on his bed, head bent, unwilling to look at her.
“Eat, we have much to discuss.”
Tandi walked in with water, and they sat on the floor by his bed and watched him eat. They were quiet, and Tony wished they could be loud in their anger. He wanted them to curse him out for giving up on himself and on life. Tony only got silence, and it was killing him. He pushed the food aside, unable to make it past half the plate. “Why are you here, mama?”
His mother turned to Tandi, who got up and took the tray of food and the empty cup away. She searched through her purse, then handed him an envelope.
“Read this, and let’s talk.”
Tony hesitated, then collected the envelope. Maybe she didn’t understand that he couldn’t deal with any more bills at the moment. He would read whatever she had brought out of respect, then return to his darkness when they left. He missed it already, his safe haven.
It was a letter written by his teacher. His mind went blank as he read, and later tears dropped from his eyes. He could feel them scald his cheeks as they descended. Tony couldn’t finish reading, the tears wouldn’t let him. So stood up to leave the room, his mother couldn’t see him cry.
“Stay. I know.” She said.
He looked at his mother through his tears, what was she on about? How could she know the contents in the sealed letter?
“Your teacher asked me to come here and deliver this letter a week before he died, he knew you would do this to yourself. He explained his plans for you in detail, in the letter he sent to me and asked me not to delay.” She got up from her position on the floor and walked up to him. With the tenderness she reserved for only him, she rubbed his back. “Didn’t he tell you not to be afraid of the future? Did he not tell you he would not leave you on your own, Tony? Why, why did you lose all hope, were you getting ready to die, to leave us, my only son?” She asked, crying again.
“I didn’t know…” He wept with her. “Mama, I didn’t know the plans he had for me.”
“What does the letter say?” She asked. Tandi had returned to the room at the sound of their crying. Tony cleaned his face as he turned away from her, then looked at the letter again.
“He asked me not to be afraid that he left me a helper, another teacher, to guide me through to become everything we had planned. The person’s name and address are written here, and he is expecting me. Mama, he also got me a job in a friend’s school, to do what I love. How can I thank this man, how?” He asked as he broke down, unable to control himself. All the fear and heartache he had experienced at the death of his teacher was for nothing. There was a way, life to be lived again, a family that still wanted and loved him. Tony’s knees crumpled to the floor in worship.
The teacher had died but yet lived in him. He had left him a helper to guide him through to become all that God had planned for him. He was alive again.