KEEP YOUR LIGHTS ON

“Ejike! Ejike!! Please give me the ₦70,000 to purchase the aso-ebi, today is the deadline for payment”. Ejike jumped out of sleep sweating profusely. He’d normally be very angry to be woken up in such a rude manner by his wife and for ordinary aso-ebi but today he was unusually quiet. Anuli, his wife of twenty years was well prepared for a fight session and was surprised when her husband softly replied, “I will make the transfer shortly”. Ejike thought about the dream he just had for a while; he needed no interpreter. His life was gradually falling apart and what he saw in his dream was scary.

Chief. Ejike Ekwulobia is a popular auto spare parts dealer at the Ikoku Spare Parts market in Port Harcourt and has branch offices in Aba and Onitsha. His business has made tremendous profits over the years. His marriage with Anuli is blessed with three children; Eze 18, Chibuzor 16 and Olanma 14. Chief is a believer in the popular scripture that money answers all things so he had always provided abundantly for his family. The children got whatever they wanted; gifts, expensive schools, parties, vacations in different parts of the world and any other luxury you can imagine. Just name it and they have it! What he didn’t realize was that money could not train children. The returns on his huge investment are a nagging wife and three wayward children who bring nothing but shame to him. In the past, he would drink to drown his unhappiness but his kidneys were failing too.

His relationship with his wife was destroyed a long time ago. While Anuli toured the world shopping and living the life, he had his fill of wine and women. He had always hoped that his children would be a source of joy and pride to him but with constant bad reports trailing each of them, he sometimes wished he had no child at all. They had waited for five years after marriage before their first child arrived. Each child was greeted with large celebrations; they were his most prized possessions. Now they bring him nothing but worry and sorrow. Ejike believes Anuli should have seen to it that the children were properly raised while he made and supplied all the money they needed. The reality is that they both had failed.

 Ejike stood up from his bed, quickly made a transfer of seventy thousand naira to his wife and then prepared himself to go to the shop. Que sera sera; whatever will be will be, he thought.

Within Eze’s six years in secondary school, he was found guilty and punished on accounts of truancy, examination malpractice, bullying and fighting. The last straw that broke the camel’s back was when he and his friends almost raped a girl in SS1 before they were caught. Ejike could hardly bear the shame. He had to deal with both the school authorities and the police. His reputation was badly damaged. It took relentless pleas and some cash exchange with the police for his son to be allowed to write his SSCE examination. The school only listened to him in consideration of the fact that he was one of the financial pillars of the school.

Eze’s siblings were no different. They were rude, stubborn and lacked manners and were a constant thorn in the flesh. At first, Ejike thought they were just being children but he soon realized he was dealing with something beyond juvenile delinquencies. While he had recently become worried over the state of his family, his wife remained unperturbed. Her major concern was wearing the latest fashion trends, socialising and having a good time gossiping with her friends.

Ejike was a knight of the Catholic Church but prayer wasn’t exactly his thing. He only prayed the rosary on Sundays and then kept them away till the next mass service. As he got ready to leave the house that morning, he knelt down and prayed; “Oh God in heaven be merciful to me and to my family as you have been in the past. Do not reward me for my wickedness but have compassion on my weary soul. Amen”

A few weeks later, Ejike introduced Emmanuel, his new apprentice to his family. Emmanuel, who was about Eze’s age, had returned with him after a visit to Nnewi, his home town in Anambra state. He was somehow related to the family and Ejike needed an insider to monitor his business. He believed his other boys were ripping him off. Emmanuel was hard-working, diligent, focused, and a child of God.

Soon, Emmanuel’s presence in the shop began to attract more sales as well as admiration from different customers because of his behaviour and conduct. These new changes made Ejike very happy. It seems things were gradually looking up for him in his business.

At home, Emmanuel helped out with chores even without being asked; he ran errands without complaints and was always very polite. In no time he won the heart of Anuli as well who attested to his good behaviour. Emmanuel had it rough while growing up. His father died when he was seven years old after he was knocked down by a car while returning from a wedding ceremony in a neighbouring village. He died on the way to the hospital because he was also hypertensive. From a young age, Emmanuel began to fend for himself and his mother by working on people’s farms and doing other odd jobs to make ends meet. He had completed his primary and secondary education but could not further his education due to lack of funds so he decided to learn a trade.

Emmanuel had been brought up in the way of the Lord by his parents. They encouraged him to trust God no matter what and to live uprightly and honour God. He embraced the scripture that Godliness with contentment is great gain. Even with the affluent state of the Ekwulobia’s, Emmanuel was content with whatever he was given and didn’t ask for more even when the opportunity presented itself. Emmanuel never joked with his prayers and he always had a word of encouragement for anyone who was low in spirit. Even when everything around was gloomy, Emmanuel was never caught frowning, being bitter or sad but ever joyful. His positive energy had a way of rubbing off on everyone and even if you were down, one contact with Emma would lift your broken spirit.

His daily prayer was to be an agent of blessing wherever he found himself. Even in the shop, Emmanuel’s presence made it difficult for the other boys to commit any dubious act. He refused to be a part of such and instead preached to them about the consequences of their actions.  No matter the pressure, he would always tell the truth. Even if the offence was so little, he would own up to his mistake. Chief Ejike developed a soft spot for Emmanuel and wished his children would take a cue from him and change for the better.

At the shop, Emmanuel’s presence made it difficult for the other boys to commit any dubious act. He refused to be a part of such and instead preached to them about the consequences of their actions.  He always told the truth even when he had made a mistake and could be punished. Chief Ejike developed a soft spot for Emmanuel and wished his children would take a cue from him and change for the better.

When Eze and Chibuzor tried to introduce him to drugs, Emmanuel introduced them to Jesus. He seized every opportunity to share his faith. One day he found Olanma crying bitterly and later found out that her gangster boyfriend had dumped her. Emmanuel wrote her a poem titled “There’s gold on your inside”. As she read the poem, she suddenly realized that she had completely lost her self-esteem and had let street boys determine her worth. A line in the poem read “you are God’s child and even if you are in a mess right now, there is gold underneath the rubble”. She read the poem over a million times in the days to come many times crying to God as she felt His love around her. On the following Sunday, she approached Emmanuel with the question “what must I do to be saved?” She gave her life to Christ and joined Emmanuel to a Pentecostal church close by.   Olanma turned out to be the female version of Apostle Paul. Her zeal was burning hot. Chief would hear her pray all through the night and she began to witness her brothers. She stayed indoors, studying the bible. She also wrote an apology letter to her parents for her wayward ways in the past. She concluded the letter with the famous hymn line; “I was blind but now I see”. Chief and his wife could not sleep through the night. Could it be that we are blind too, he asked his wife. Anuli was ashamed of herself. She suddenly realized how much of a bad example she had been to her only daughter and now she was schooling her in the ways of the Lord. Shame on you Anuli, she said to herself. That was the beginning of their turn around. Chief began to spend time with Emmanuel at the shop discussing his faith while Anuli simply drew close to her evangelist daughter. They both gave their lives to Christ.

Beloved, the light shines in darkness and darkness has never put it out (John 1:5 GNT).

Who is this light? You the Christian. Yes! You. In the midst of a world covered with gross darkness. Hear the words of our Lord Jesus: You are the light of the world. It is important that you do not forget who you are, keep your lights on.  While darkness looms, let your lights burst forth and give hope to the hopeless, and peace to everyone around. Do men light a candle and put it under a candlestick? No! You were saved to shine. Take your place on the candlestick and light up that room you are in.

Don’t be afraid to raise a song while others complain or to call for prayer in a helpless situation. Let nothing stop your kindness, tenderness and compassion. Look for neither reward nor commendation, be yourself; flip on the switch and shine. Let your light so shine that men will see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Have you been keeping up with the good work! This is no time to be discouraged, the greater the darkness, the brighter you shine. Mrs. Ibidun Ighodalo the wife of Pst. Ituah Ighodalo just passed on in her prime but who would forget in a hurry her passion to help couples with infertility issues. Her fertility foundation is a legacy of light that will shine on. What are you doing for humanity? This is no time for private worship, let your light so shine that men may see… Is there something for the world to see? You are God’s child, playing small does not serve the world. We are meant to shine as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us; it’s in you. As we let our lights shine, we unconsciously give others the permission to shine too. A house with its lights on is a beautiful sight but just think of a whole city with their lights on at night. What a beautiful sight to behold. That what the Lord was talking about; a city set on a hill (full of lights) cannot be hidden. Let’s take our light to the dark places of this world – beyond the four walls of the church. . Let’s shine together as a church. We shine brightest when we shine together. Let’s shine till men see our good works and give glory to our father in heaven.

It took a while for the boys to come around but the light in Ejike’s house soon overcame the darkness in their lives. They gave their lives to Christ and are serving Him faithfully. Who would have thought that an apprentice boy from the village will bring so much change to a family that was fast falling apart?

Matthew 4v16 says ‘’the people who were sitting in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them, a light has dawned”

No matter where you find yourself, keep the light on by making bold your confession of faith. Don’t let the enemy ever catch you off guard. Remember light always overcomes darkness.

Arise, shine for your light has come, and the glory and brilliance of the Lord has risen upon you. For in fact, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness will cover the people; but the Lord will rise upon you and his glory and brilliance will be seen on you. KEEP YOUR LIGHTS ON.

In the midst of this pandemic, it is important that we do not lose who we are. There are a lot of unpleasant and sad events in the news but still, keep your lights on.  While darkness looms, let our lights burst forth and give hope to the hopeless, encouragement, peace and joy to everyone around.

What can be said about you? How are you imparting your world with your candle? Are you allowing the light to shine or hiding it under a bushel of fear and uncertainties? 

As businesses are still facing poor states, light on not bemoan and complain. Even as it concerns your finances, light on by making bold your confession of faith.

Let God be honoured more than ever all around us. We are carriers of His presence and we should keep our lights ever blazing. For those who are not living the zoe life, you are still wallowing in darkness. Jesus is waiting to receive you into his family, make a decision now to drop your old life and embrace a joy filled eternal life that Christ offers at no charges at all!

The zoe life is the God life and the sooner you embrace it, everything not making sense around you will make sense.

 

 

STAYING POSITIVE REGARDLESS!

How we see the world matters but the truth still remains that we live in a mostly negative world. It is very easy to see things that are wrong in the world. They say bad news sells faster than good news but maybe bad news is the real news. We don’t have to look far to find someone without hope or we don’t have to look far to seek out things to be discouraged about.

Sophia woke up late that morning after working late into the night, then quickly got ready for work and set out to get a bus. She had to wait a while in the bus for it to get filled and when it did, the bus just wouldn’t start. The driver tried all he could to no avail. Ranting and shouting at the driver for not checking his car properly before calling for passengers, everyone leaves the bus for the next one. To beat time, Sophia decides to enter a cab instead.

She quickly joined the first available cab and was soon squeezed in between two plus size ladies; one of which had a strong body odour. By the time she got to work, delayed by traffic, her dress was rumpled, she was tired and smelled different from the perfume she put on that morning. All that didn’t matter, she had worked so hard on her report and needed to do a mock presentation before the prospective clients arrived. Her boss was counting on her and she wasn’t about to disappoint her. She checked her watch and realized that the meeting with the clients was to begin in 15 minutes; she was an hour late. She was confident her boss would only have to glance through the proposal before joining the meeting. She had been very thorough and the proposal was simply perfect. “Where have you been and why aren’t you taking your calls?” Her boss was not in the mood to hear an explanation; “let me have the proposal” she quickly added.  Sophia reached into her bag and suddenly realized she had left the proposal at home as she rushed out that morning. She usually left her laptop at home since she had one to work with at the office. This was supposed to be her big day but so far it has been a nightmare. Who knows? Maybe her village people had remembered her for bad.

My friends, some days can be really good, others bad or simply ordinary. However some days are difficult to describe with words.

How you take control of your emotions and handle the day matters and will determine how the end all plays out. There are very many different versions of Sophia’s experience. You may have experienced something more devastating at the start of a day or even a season in your life but how you manage such experiences make you a winner or not. My guess is we all want to win in the end.

Attitude is everything, for better or for worse. The way you perceive and explain the world has a powerful effect on the results you obtain. A negative attitude is almost a guarantee that life will be more difficult and less fulfilling than it should be. 

God sees everything that goes on here on earth. He knows the people we live with, work with, the people we have to submit to on our job or who our leaders are. Still His commandment to us is….. In all things GIVE THANKS! Sounds crazy right?

That is the simple truth because even if Sophia vents out her anger it only makes her feel worse but why not switch to a thankful mode which will even help your body system and give you a solution even in the midst of the chaos.  Rejoice in your circumstances and God wants us to STAY POSITIVE REGARDLESS!

Why may you ask? We are His Children and He is in control.

The Bible says in Prov 18 v 21 that ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it.’ there will always be mountains or giants on our life’s journey but because Christ has already overcome us we have the power to speak to the mountain or giant and they are gone if not immediately keep declaring your victory over it. Sooner or later, they will bulge. The higher we go, the tougher it gets so be prepared.

Quit murmuring and complaining about our mountain. Stop focusing on the mountain and focus on GOD and his power to move mountains. God loves us and has plans, purpose and destiny for our lives. God is in control and be rest assured that He has your best interest at heart. When your day is going all shades of bad, don’t feel gloom or down, wear a smile and remember that as a child of God, the Joy of the Lord is your strength. You are in charge of your life and your day not the situation or circumstance. 

With all these at our disposal as Children of God, why do we often speak so negatively?

First of all, we all fall onto this trap at times. It is our human nature to spout off about our problems. It is just plain easy to fall into the whining trap. It is our human nature and default. Sometimes we want people to see our struggle and respect us for going on despite our circumstances or sometimes we are so accustomed to complaining, we don’t even realize we are doing it, it becomes automatic.

Quit complaining and kill every form of it from your life. Words carry power for death and life are in the power of the tongue. Complaining and anger destroys joy! It can spread to everyone around you so beware and STAY POSITIVE!

When we complain and whine, it is like we are saying God is not powerful enough. A person who complains and whines is not thankful enough. Thankful people are too busy being grateful being grateful for the things they have and don’t have time to notice the things they could complain about.

In a world of so much negativity, as the Light of the World, we must shine bright. We must choose to overcome the negative atmosphere with GOOD. Overcome by speaking POSITIVELY and STAYING POSITIVE! Keep thanking and praising and it has a way of affecting our whole system making us still feel good inside regardless of negative situations and we even have the strength to keep moving and living.

Phil 4 v 6-7 says ‘Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ. 

God flows through people and if you get discouraged or dismayed, you stop the flow of God’s power. Keep standing on God’s word and His promises and rejoice evermore. Don’t give up. It will take a deliberate effort but it is crucial to stay positive.

The enemy will use the evil and negative things of this world to discourage you even if they are not personal problems. Isaiah 26 v 3 says that The Lord will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed upon Him because he trusts in Him. It is normal to be discouraged and it is abnormal to be strong and of good courage, but it is certainly doable. God’s word is a sure guide to instruct us on how to stay happy and positive in the midst of chaos.

Being thankful shows maturity. It demonstrates that we are spiritually mature enough to handle any type of promotion or increase. So as you begin your day, speak into it and no matter the consequence choose to stay POSITIVE.  

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Phil 4 v 8.

Complaining and worrying only makes you sick, bitter and frustrated but a thankful heart gives you peace and a clear head. Negativism is like an epidemic, once the words are spoken, they are almost impossible to contain.

Choose to find the gems of positive truth among the things that tear you apart. Both are present in our lives. What you choose to see is a matter of faith and perspective. Reprogram your life so you can see the positive signs of God moving all around you.

Now that we are all fired up with positive thinking, confessions and a grateful heart, it’s time to take actions that will change the narrative. A positive attitude prepares you for positive actions that will produce positive results. What happened has happened. While you can’t change the past you can create your future. With no anxiety and frustration your head is clear and ready for some critical thinking? Ask: what can I do differently? Who can be of help? What resources do I have? How much time is needed? Ask questions that will challenge the situation and seek answers that will provide solutions either long term or even instantly. Remember God gives wisdom to those who ask him. Maybe the worst just happened, now it’s time to make the best out of it. 

Well it took Sophia a few minutes to get to her desk on the second floor. She took her time at the staircase to put herself together. She was almost losing her mind but she was determined not to let that happen. She made her way to the ladies room and whispered a prayer to God. She asked for wisdom to call forth light out of this darkness. By the time she finally got to her table, a query was already on it. The concluding paragraph said something about her losing her job if the client pulled out of the project. All she thought about was how to solve the problem. The meeting with the client was ongoing and would only last an hour. She was sure her boss must have decided to present the original proposal prepared by her colleague; one she had studied and gave the company executives enough reasons to discard as it was not very convincing. She had taken upon herself the responsibility of coming up with a better proposal in just two days. One which will capture the new ideas she had come up with while maximizing efficiency and profitability; something this particular client took very seriously.  

She wore her best smile and walked to the conference room determined to make sure the client is not lost at least not as a result of her mistake. Officially, she was not allowed to speak directly with a prospective client but as far as she knew her job was as good as lost. The meeting was on tea break. She could see her superiors discussing down the hall while the client talked things over with his team. From the look on their faces, they weren’t particularly satisfied. She walked over to the client and introduced herself as one of the project managers and spoke a little about how the company was committed to see him grow and expand through this project. She whispered that there was more information that would enable him make the best decision but somehow she had left the document at home.  After telling a little bit of her experience that morning, she begged the client not to make a decision until the document got to him. The client commended her sincerity and told him to find a way for him to get it within the hour. She stormed home and simply mailed the proposal to her boss from home. She then called her and told her about her discussion with the client. She dropped the call before her boss could respond.

 

She got a call by 6am the next morning from her boss. She still had her job and the client had requested she managed the project for them. 

It may not always happen this fast but the result is always the same when we stay positive. Encourage yourself in God’s word and stay cheerful because the spirit of God in you helps you to live and respond to things from inside out. Remember Joy is a fruit of the spirit so you have the capacity to stay JOYFUL and POSITIVE REGARDLESS!

 

COME BACK HOME

Stop the train! Stop the train! Everyone in the cabin turned to see who was shouting like a mad man. Who has ever asked a train on top speed to stop for whatever reason? Is there a mad man on board? Does she think this is a taxi? Too many questions for this young lady who was soaked in her tears and held together by John and Mary who both sat close to her in the cabin. “You can come down at the next station,” Mary reassured her. Hilda was on a train headed for Maiduguri from the Port Harcourt train station. She was simply running away from home; running as far as she could. She kept saying to herself “I’ve failed in life, I’m not worthy to live”. Her clothes were dirty, her eyes were red and she was constantly looking at the floor. The purple shawl with which she wrapped a significant part of her face seemed insufficient to hide her sorrow. She obviously didn’t want to look anyone in the face. She entered the train and found a seat in a corner. No one was sitting there at the moment but she knew she won’t be alone for long. There was a long queue outside with people waiting to board the train. She chose a seat close to the window. There would be no fun in observing the cities and villages the train would speed by but she hoped the wind would help to dry her tears. How long will this pain last? Maybe I should just put it all to an end. The thought of suicide brought an ocean of tears to her eyes. How did I get to this point? She thought within herself.

Just six months ago Hilda had completed her secondary school education in the most expensive secondary school in Port Harcourt and with record scores in her SAT and TOEFL exams. Thereafter, she successfully gained admission into the John Hopkins University in the U.S. Her parents were very proud of her. Both of her older siblings had successfully graduated as Engineers with honours from prestigious universities and Hilda was about to break whatever records they had set. She certainly was the most brilliant of Dr. Rolland’s three children. Her admission to study Medicine and surgery meant she was about to fulfil her father’s dream of having one of his children take after him and ultimately take over as the Chief Medical Director of the Oak Specialist Hospital; his lifetime legacy. Her fees had been paid in full and all arrangements had been made for her to travel in a couple of months when the new session would begin. Her academic records were impeccable and the school was delighted to receive such a genius. Some of her classmates then decided to throw a party where everyone would come together for one last time of pure fun before they parted ways to different higher institutions. Michael the social prefect was at the top of the planning and offered to host the party. His parents were away on vacation and his elder brother gave approval for the party to hold in their house; Michael had reassured him there would be plenty of girls for him to prey on. They were indeed spoiled children. It was at this party that things took a different turn for Hilda.

The train had been moving for about twenty minutes and Hilda hadn’t even looked up to see what was around her. She had been joined by two passengers John and Mary. Hilda’s face was down on the table in front of her covered with her two hands. Mary couldn’t help but notice the tears dropping on the floor. What could make someone cry so hard? A question she realised she had many answers to. She had gone through many crying seasons in her lifetime, seasons she was glad we’re over for good. At this point she decided to show some concern. “What’s the matter young lady?” she asked politely. Maybe I could be of help she added when she got no response. Help was what Hilda needed but she just couldn’t figure out how anyone could possibly help her. She was convinced her life was doomed. She was a sixteen year old pregnant girl who did not know exactly who she was pregnant for and was about to forfeit her dream of being a medical doctor; a tragedy she knew would definitely give her father a heart attack. How would she explain to him that she lied about visiting the museum only to attend a house party? At the party, she had her first cup of alcohol and soon lost control of herself. The music was loud and everyone was really having fun. She could remember joining some of her friends to get some rest in a room upstairs but the rest of the events that took place seemed to have left her memory. By the time she woke up, she was naked under the sheets alongside three of her friends. She raised the alarm but was shut down by her friends who convinced her that all they did was have a good time. However, no one really explained the ‘good time’ in detail. She missed her period that month and the month after. She knew enough biology to know she was pregnant but her efforts to find out from her friends who had touched her that day proved abortive. She was hoping she would hide the pregnancy until she travelled and probably find a solution when she was miles away from home but thunder struck when her mum drove her to the hospital to secure a medical fitness report as part of the documents required for her travel. Hilda was shocked to find out that a pregnancy test was part of the tests to be run. She managed to comport herself while samples were collected but soon disappeared just after her mum was called in to pick up the results. 

Mrs. Rolland was shocked when she was told that her daughter ran out of the hospital the moment she entered the doctor’s office. She had questions about the results in her hand but her daughter’s escape simply cleared her doubts. Dr. Rolland was desperately in search of his daughter though he was not sure if his goal was to ensure her safety or to ensure she paid dearly for her sudden foolishness. Hilda was in hiding for three days and finally decided it was best to leave the city. She didn’t have the courage to kill herself but she was earnestly hoping that somehow death would find her and end her pain. Finally she lifted up her face not knowing exactly what to say to Mary. Her eyes were red, swollen and her nose running. “Are you sick?” John couldn’t help asking. They were eager to know what was wrong with this young girl. No one can help me was all she could mutter. Mary wrapped her hands around her and consoled her. No situation is helpless my dear at least not with God. It took about ten minutes before Hilda finally put herself together and told her story. Both Mary and John were crying by the time she finished. She was too young to bear such pain. “You have to go home” were Mary’s first words. Hilda glanced at John and he nodded in agreement. 

I’ve had a worse life, Mary continued, but I found the strength to go home or let’s say someone gave me the strength to. I grew up in a poor family and had to fend for myself early. My parents seemed content with their low life but I desired more. I did whatever it took to meet my needs and by the time I was your age, I was sleeping around for cash. When my parents realised what I was doing and tried to stop me, I eloped to the capital with a friend and settled as a full time prostitute. I targeted the big fishes and wrecked many marriages in the process. One day, a woman caught me in bed with her husband in a secret apartment he had rented for me. She had tracked us for weeks but worse still she knew all about my activities with married men in the town. She had standby thugs who she had paid to kill me the old fashioned way and save other men from my devilish charm. She took her husband and simply drove off. The men were getting ready to stone me to death when a strange man passed by. He looked rich but more importantly when he spoke, he spoke with so much wisdom. He had a talk with those fierce young men and proved to them that though they had proof that my sins were deserving of death, they were not qualified to be my executioners. He challenged them with the words “Let he that has no sin cast the first stone”. I’m not sure why they feared him but surprisingly they all dropped their stones and walked away. He left me with these words; “Go and sin no more”. Without much hesitation, I knew it was time to go home. I wasn’t sure I would be welcome there but how else would I find out. I had to go home and when I did, I realized that family is the best place to deal with your shame. I realized that my parents had never stopped loving me. They took me in and helped me start life over again and this time on the right path.

As Mary told her story, John was convinced he needed to tell his too. I came from a very rich family, he began. Six years ago, I asked for my share of the family’s wealth and when I eventually compelled my father to make it available to me, I packed my things and left home. I travelled overseas and lived the life of my dreams or so I thought. I threw wild parties, gambled in casinos and had my fair share of wine and women. I had invested a couple of millions in a business a friend told me about to make sure I had something to fall back on. It took only two years for me to squander the wealth I left home with and the worst of it was that my so-called friend had duped me. I had nothing to fall back on; nothing in a far country. I had never worked all my life. I didn’t even complete my degree program before I took off thinking money was all I needed to live a happy life. With no certificate and no special skills, I ended up working in a farm as a labourer. I fed the poultry and the pigs and cleaned their mess afterwards. Those days were the lowest points of my life. I was a disappointment to my father but more so to myself. Even servants in my father’s house were doing just fine. One night I had time to think and something told me to go home. Though I was convinced I had no rights and privileges in my father’s house having left against his advice and in a very disrespectful manner, I knew I would be better off as a slave there than die in shame and suffering. I summoned courage and went back home. “All I ask father is to be your servant” were the words that followed my cry for forgiveness. But you see, he didn’t even consider my request. You will always be my son, was his reply. The decision to go home was the best decision I’ve ever made in life. I’ve had to rebuild my life from the scratch but you see, my family has been my greatest support and I have come to realize how powerful a father’s love really is. His anger will last only a moment but his love is for a lifetime. Go home young girl, you won’t regret it.

Beloved, before I finish my story about Hilda, let me remind you of God’s undying love for all His children. He expects the best from us but he also knows that we are but dust. He recognises our frailty, imperfections and foolishness. As an earthly father pities his children, so our heavenly Father pity his own children. What is that thing that is driving you away from God? Have you made a mistake or committed something abominable? Maybe you have betrayed the very anointing he trusted you with or you can’t forgive yourself for failing again and again in spite of the promises you made the last time. The truth remains that we all have blown it at one time or the other and it is reasonable to weep over your sins and failures but you need to do more than that. Sin only succeeds in separating us from God when we hide behind the woods like Adam or try to bury it in the ground like Cain. If only we can go naked and exposed before our heavenly Father we would find forgiveness and hope.

“Have mercy upon me, o God, according to your loving kindness; according to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you and you only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight – that you may be found just when you speak and blameless when you judge.” Psalm 51: 1 – 4

This is a profound prayer, one that simply says, I’m wrong daddy and only you can help me. Hear this; God is faithful and just to forgive you and to cleanse you of all unrighteousness. 

Beloved, you have nothing to lose! Don’t die in the cold, go home to your Father; you’ll find hope and rest. How reassuring it is to know that God has loved us with an everlasting love and all he yearns is for us to COME BACK HOME! It does not matter how deep we have sunk in sin, God is ever ready to receive and forgive us completely.

Even though Hilda had to wait for the train to stop at the next station, her journey to sadness ended when she screamed those words, “Stop the train!” John gave her ten thousand naira to chatter a taxi back home. Her arrival brought relief to the family but the air was filled with sadness. Tears flowed freely as the entire family wept over her story but they soon found a way to move forward. Dr. Rolland brought in the police and Michael’s brother confessed to rape and use of drugs in court. He was old enough to go to prison and he did time. Hilda had to defer her admission but by next year she went back to school and graduated top of her class. She now works at the famous John Hopkins Hospital and lives with her husband and three children in Baltimore, United States of America. She is the founder of the WE CARE Foundation in Nigeria which helps rehabilitate victims of rape, drug addicts, and prostitutes. The Foundation also provides free counselling and skill acquisition training for them. Her mission is to lead the hopeless back to the Heavenly Father and to reunite families.  

God has a beautiful plan laid out for us, his beloved children, during the course of life’s journey and we lose ourselves at some point, get up and make a firm decision to come back home. Don’t give into the enemy’s cheapening words or guilty accusations. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy but Jesus came to give us eternal life. Choose to come back home and not wallow in guilt and shame.

You are precious to God!

Written By: Nonso Ahukanna

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