God, are You there? ( A short Story)
As I listened to the voice note for the hundredth time, I couldn’t help feel that somehow God has forgotten me.
She had invited me for her traditional wedding shopping, but I had scheduled and paid for a 3 day retreat. Every month, I go on personal retreat and my close friends knows that. Although the date differs. I had calmly told her in won’t be able to make it on Thursday but Friday to Sunday I will definitely be there to help.
But Efua took it the other way.
As she recorded the voice note, I could hear voices at the background telling her to calm down that that was not nice.
“Allow me Janet, let me tell Chika what you people have been dragging your feet to tell her. True, she’s the most educated among all of us yet, she has little to show for it. As a medical doctor, even cleaners make more money than her. Yet, every month she’ll carry her bag off to one secluded place for retreat”.
“Marry is problem. But is it inside retreat she will see the husband to marry? Is it not by mingling with young people”?
“I’ve told her to relocate to the Akoka branch of the church with us, but babe no gree.
She kept saying God told her to stay and help grow the teens church in Ogbe. Even the sound of the branch name sef eh, the thing dey off me.
Someone laughed in the background and I thought it sounded like Timinu’s voice.
“When we tell her the price of the asoebi now, she will be doing like olden days turn table”.
The voice note went on and on.
I tried to hit off but my phone froze at that moment, leaving me with no option than to listen to the whole banter.
As tears dropped down my cheeks I began to go over my life again.
So it for my case they gathered?
Yes, at 30 years I was still single even as an experienced medical doctor.
I worked with a government hospital and our salary were not been paid regularly. When they do pay, it was never complete.
Last week I did the calculation, 550 thousand naira . Yes, the government was owing me that huge amount.
Now, with the pandemic I can’t even imagine if we will get even a small stipend this time around.
Efua knew my story. I cannot collect from home when I should be the one giving to my family. How come she’s treating me this badly?
Oh, how I’ve wanted so badly to join the Akoka or Lekki branch of the church.
Juliet joined the Lekki branch and within 8 months she was married. Do I really want to remember that I am the oldest among them all?.
But each time I go to God in prayers about relocating, I hear Him say
“ Stay, Stay till you’re refined”.
My passion to see the teenagers at church know more of God kept me at Ogbe. After watching Miriam get pregnant at 17, and Dele behaving like a Yahoo yahoo tout. I knew more has to be done, so when Pastor Modele approached me to head the teens church, I went back to God in prayers and God asked me what do I want.
I simply read his word back to him from Psalms 144 vs 12 ” Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nutured plants and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace”
I wanted the teens to flourish and grow .
That night I heard this in the place of prayer
” when your will aligns with God’s will, He gives you grace for the journey and opens way for greater exploits. “.
So I stayed, once again in obedience to God.
Three brothers have approached me for marriage and no, I wasn’t choosy.
Should I recount the case of Brother Tayo? He was keeping me as an alternative to his American lover-sister. No wonder, I kept having frightening dreams about him.
Or is it Brother Jude, who though he is rich beyond statement, told me to be thanking God for brothers like him. Brothers with salvation and riches, very few of us are found these days. He stated. I saw I had no future with him.
Brother Kanayo, very jovial brother but he wanted an igbo lady like him. One who will submit. He told me he doesn’t take advices from mere women. It took me biting my tongue that day, I knew what would have come out wouldn’t be pleasant.
God are you there?
Just yesterday, I was sick and tired of my job. I had typed my resignation letter. I was done being used as a puppet.
The 50 year old politician that came for colonoscopy was one of the worst patients I’ve ever attended too. He kept reminding me that if not for the lockdown how would a man of his caliber be found in a government hospital?
As I wrote down the things he would need, he started again, I was exhausted and I shut him up instantly by saying
” Sir, if men of caliber like you would put your own hospitals and country in order things would be better. Imagine us working without being paid for months, can you work under such conditions sir? He eyed me as he sat still.
What is your name?, he asked.
Chika, I responded in a very firm voice.
I typed the letter that evening, I was done. But as I perused through Facebook, I came across a post by ife-grace with the title “stay where you last heard God”
The title shook me and I found myself saying “Chika, stay where you last heard God”.
This fueled my drive for my monthly retreat again, until I listened to Efua’s voice note. She just cut down every strength I had gathered.
All I could cry was God, are you there?.
I just wanted to be left alone. In fact, I’m not going for the retreat again.
Then my phone beeped. It was Efua
” Chika, please I’m so sorry, I don’t know what really came over me, I sent that voice note by accident, please. We’re on our way to your house please. I’m so sorry”.
As soon as I read that they were coming, I gathered my bags and left. It is better I stay with God in one location like that than meet them at home.
At 7pm, I got to my lodge for the retreat, My heart was heavy, my body was tired.
” when you stand praying, forgive “.
That was the wall frame in my lodge room. I knew what it meant. I had stayed in that room for 4 months now, how come I never noticed that wall frame, did they just buy new frame?. .
I fell on the bed and wept. The words came back to me again.
As I wept, I said,
” Efua, I forgive you and the others with you, I will hold no grudge or bitterness by the Spirit of God, I receive grace to forgive, I receive strength to pray”.
I slept off with so much peace of mind.
The next two days were like open heavens to me. I read from Isaiah chapter 64.
I was mad at the devil, yes but I prayed for God to move on my behalf.
It was a beautiful retreat.
I rounded up and switched on my phone. There was so much calmness and peace within me. I looked at my journal, the past days have been filled with revelations and visitations.
God is here! He will rise up right early for me.
At 4pm I checked out of the lodge humming the tune of the newly released song ” Onememma “.
Then I heard my name.
I didn’t respond, there may be another Chika.
I had to turn around. The face looked so familiar until recognition hit me. It was our NCCF president back at the NYSC camp. See as the guy fresh, chai money is good oh.
Brother Daniel, wow, good evening sir. I gesticulated.
My phone started to ring at that point. I excused myself to answer it. It was Dr. Kola from my job.
Dr. Chika, he shouted
Chai, I will change your name to Miracle.
He was so excited.
What happened na, i asked, becoming impatient.
” you won’t believe this he shouted, you remember that politician that came to the hospital. The one you attended to?
Yes, yes. The annoying one.
He signed that all our arrears should be paid immediately. I just received my alert now. As he was talking my phone buzzed, my salary in arrears came in plus extra gratitude gift ( 800 thousand naira)
Chika, I want to faint. He shouted. I knew what he meant. With a wife and 2 kids, this money was just gold in paper form.
I laughed, ” biko don’t faint because if you do I will treat you and collect part of this your arrears”.
See your mouth he laughed”
Ok later na. He ended the call.
Testimony one .
As I ended the call with Dr. Kola. I apologized to Brother Daniel.
I look so happy, Brother Daniel said.
I smiled,” let’s just say God has started His seasons of endless testimonies”.
He smiled. The smiled that sent my heart in a sweet melody.
We exchanged numbers and talked some more. That was the beginning of something called love.
I left for home that evening, fulfilled and blessed.
But let me call Efua first. Yes, I’ve forgiven her.
Why are you still smiling, you like love stories sha.
Yes, God is here, God is there with you child of God. Darkness, no matter how black cannot obscure the light of God when it shines.
Crying in pity will not move God’s hands. Crying in faith, even the tiniest of faith will. So child of God, come let’s stay, let’s tarry, let pray till we hear the Lord whisper Isaiah chapters 61 and 62.
Pay the price to stay in His presence.
Are you ready?
Photo Credits. ( Head shot- Naijassador), In post pic ( Canva)