He glanced briefly at his wrist watch. Four thirty. He had just arrived from his office and he was all worn out.
His snapped his fingers as he hurried to the room. He had completely forgotten that today was Thursday and he knew for sure that he’d be late for the study. He yanked off his tie, unbuttoned and shrugged off his shirt, he quickly pulled on a T-shirt. He pulled off his shoes, tucked his socks in them and tossed them carelessly before wearing a pair of black sandals. He moved to the table where his books were stacked, picked up his bible, jotter and his copy of Gbile Akanni‘s No More Two. He was rushing out of his room when his words returned, stopping him dead in his tracks.
I’m done with us!
His shoulders dropped. There was no study to catch, talk more of running late for. He trudged back to his bed, his gait weakened by the helplessness that seemed to envelope him. He slumped into the bed.
The suffocating bag of depression was descending again. The weights of despair crushing his soul and sinking him into the quagmire that he had been struggling in ever since the break up.
He had tried to drown himself in his job and forget all about Lara, but it was difficult, if not impossible. And now the whole incidence relived in his mind. A lot of things preyed on his mind, a thousand thoughts ran through it and there he was sulking again. Like a punctured tyre, he felt every bit of energy and hope slip out of him.
He felt like a loser, Omolara would make it the second lady he’d be loosing to another man. Firstly, it was Jessica -not like he really ever had her- and now he’d be loosing Lara to Noah. He imagined her sending a card to him someday with ‘Omolara hooks Noah’ written on it in glittering cursive. He shuddered at the thought. He imagined how Noah would take advantage of Lara’s broken heart to sweep her off her feet with subtle kindness. He could imagine the smirk that would be on conceited jerk’s face if he finally got her. Revulsion filled him. His thought wandered to the hogwash his parents were saying the other day. What was God saying? What would happen to his will? To the words he spoke? What happens to the promises?
The more Lanre thought, the deeper he sank in his thoughts and befuddlement. The more he thought, the more drained he became.
“Lanre, you can’t continue like this.” He counseled himself as he rolled on his bed.
He had to do something other than sulking. He’d done that long enough! Many a day he pulled all-nighters brooding and turning despondent possibilities over in his mind. On the few days sleep didn’t elude him, he had terrible dreams. Dreams that made him more sad and scared, not the least of which, the dream where he was in the crowd watching Lara and Noah walk down the aisle, her arm in the crook of his. Ecstatic people lined the aisle, cheering and spraying confetti on the newly wedded couple. Even in his sleep, Noah’s smugness made the pit of his stomach hot and the heat persisted after he woke with a start.
He knew he needed someone he could talk to, a friend who could understand. The previous day he was in his office when Richard came in. He didn’t even notice his presence, he was totally lost in thoughts. Richard had hit the mahogany desk lightly and he was startled.
“Guy what’s up?” He asked with a frown of concern.
“I’m good.” Lanre replied with a wan smile.
“No, you’re not.”
Lanre chuckled without amusement. “How do you mean?”
“You were so lost in thoughts, you didn’t notice my presence. You sure say yawa no dey?”
“No, I’m fine. Man just get one or two things to reason.” He had waved it off casually.
“Toh,” He shrugged. “If you say so. Guy it’s break time let’s go to the cafe, Dickson sef dey there dey wait and remember that lunch’s on you today.”
They left for the cafe.
His heart ached the more when Richard asked to know why he was perturbed. He wanted to pour out his heart there and then, but he couldn’t. Richard wasn’t the person to talk to. Richard and Dickson were just his colleagues and casual friends, they were not even born again. When they had observed Vanessa obvious interest in him, they had mocked him for rebuffing her advances. They called him names and threw all manners of coarse jokes. They could never give the right counsel, if anything they’d sink him deeper in confusion.
The fact remained that he needed someone to talk to. Not his parents this time, he needed a friend.
He brightened up and he immediately reached for his phone. He typed a message to Gaius.
‘Bros, how fa na? I was thinking pe, I should come your side for sleep over. Eerm.. I’ve got issues to discuss. I don’t know if that would be possible today sha.’
Gaius’ reply came some minutes later;
‘Mehn, I’d happy to see you oh. It’s been a while sef. Oya oya run come, but bring dinner come ooh.’
Lanre smiled. Gaius was a friend in need and a friend indeed, one that stuck closer than a brother. Their friendship began when they met at Kwara state during their NYSC programme. Over the years, their friendship had waxed stronger. Their yoke was equal, they both stood for the same things and believed in God together.
He quickly packed a suit case, he’d be going straight to office from Gaius’ the next day. He got his stuffs in the car and off he went.
* * *
Gaius took Lanre to his study, and there he relayed the whole saga to him. While he spoke Gaius listened without any interruptions. Gaius watched when he sobbed, he passed a hanky when it was needed.
When Lanre was done, Gaius stood up from his seat. With his hands shoved into his pockets he paced across the room and stood by the bookshelf. He drew a deep steadying breath and exhaled slowly.
“So how have you been feeling?” He asked coolly.
“Terrible. Alone. Out of place. I feel like a loser. Ever since the incidence, I’ve been under the perpetual torment of various thoughts, the most tormenting being thoughts of Omolara ending up with that guy, Noah.” even calling his name irritated him.
Gaius nodded. “I understand. So have you been praying?”
“I don’t have the strength to, God seems very far away.”
“But you have the strength to worry.” How could one statement be replete with sarcasm and love at the same time?
“What do I say in the place of prayer? Ehn Gaius what do I say?” Lanre asked sincerely, turning to Gaius who was backing him.
“Say something, say anything. Narrate your story to him. Yeah, he knows, but still tell him. Weep there. When words won’t come, groan. When Hannah’s heart was heavy and she prayed at Shiloh, her lips quavered. She couldn’t utter audible words but God heard her clearly. For we have not a high priest who is not touched by the feeling of our infirmity.” He turned to face Lanre.
“God wants to draw near. He wants hold your hands through it all, but you need to draw near to him first. Go back to him.” He sighed as he walked back to his seat.
“You see, when Amaka’s parents kicked vehemently against me, when they said they’d not have their daughter get hooked up to a Yoruba stranger and even threatened to disown her if she didn’t follow their bidding, mehn, my boldness was badly shaken. The hope of all the future I was seeing with Maka came crumbling before my very eyes-”
“Exactly, all my hopes are been dashed! What happens to all that the Lord said and confirmed through other people?” Lanre asked, sounding subdued.
“Ask God that question. He made those promises, so sing them to him. When my relationship with ’Maka was about to hit the rock bottom, I knew I didn’t work that relationship out, and so I went back to he who gave the relationship to me. He reaffirmed his promises. He worked out everything miraculously. Lanre you know the rest of the story now.” Lanre nodded.
There was silence for about half a minute.
“The fact that God said a thing doesn’t mean it would happen oh.” Gaius stated emphatically.
“When God promised to deliver the Israelites from bondage after a certain number of years and no one prayed to that effect, it did not happen. Not until men went back to God with his promise in their hands. So Lanre, you need to pray. Pray without ceasing. Without wavering. Let your faith stay unsinkable. Seek the Lords face. Knock until he opens unto you.”
“Plus Lanre, you clearly hate this Noah guy,” Gaius reached for his shoulders “man you don’t need it. What do you gain by hating someone who’s probably out there enjoying life?”
“And enjoying Omolara, he’s probably doing that too”
“Stop wallowing in self pity, guy. The scripture doesn’t counsel us to love our enemies, it commands us to do so! Moreover, Noah isn’t the enemy here, the devil is. So don’t waste your time fighting the wrong battle and fight right on your knees!”
Lanre didn’t know if that was a reprimand or another piece of advice, but he did know that the words sank deeply.
Although Gaius couldn’t answer his questions, he did what his parents had done earlier, he pointed him to the right place to direct them. Lanre felt eased to an extent, less burdened enough to pray.
At the table while eating the burger and drinks Lanre bought on his way from home, they joked, talked about football and caught up on NYSC memories.
After a long cold shower, Lanre opened up his heart that night to pray. All he could do was question God. Even though he didn’t hear God say anything, he dumped his burdens with him. And for all the time he prayed he kept asking God why he would break what he ordained.
Lanre draped his suit on one of dining chairs and he moved to the kitchen. He got a chilled bottle of water from the fridge and poured himself some. He let out his breath after gulping, grabbed the sink edge and bent his head.
He recollected his experience back in the office; He was auditing accounts as usual when he heard a calm voice in his mind. The voice he recognized as that of the holy spirit;
BUT THEN THAT NATION CHANGES IT’S MIND, TURNS EVIL, AND REFUSES TO OBEY ME, THEN I TOO, WILL CHANGE MY MIND AND NOT BLESS THAT NATION AS I HAD SAID I WOULD.
Lanre quickly lifted up his head. He hadn’t had time to meditate in the office.
“That should be scriptural.” He said as he paced to the room.
He leafed through the bible hurriedly. It was like he was looking for a pin in a hay stack. He lifted his head, fetched his phone and punched the words on google. He was only half way through when the suggestion came up.
Jeremiah eighteen. The very words he heard were in verse ten.
He sat up, back against the wall.
So if God promises to bless a people and they turn from him, he could take back his promise? Lanre pondered.
GO TO GENESIS SIX.
He read the whole chapter but the sixth and seventh verses caught his attention.
WAS IS IT GOD’S WILL TO CREATE MAN?
WAS IT HIS WILL TO DESTROY THEM?
Lanre wrinkled his forehead.
Seems contradictory, but yes.
Because they became evil. They went against God’s will.
CORRECT. IT WAS GOD’S WILL TO CREATE THEM, BUT THEY DIDN’T GO GOD’S WAY AND IN TH END THE LORD WAS DISPLEASED
Is that why God said I should end the relationship?
CERTAIN THINGS WEREN’T BEING HANDLED GOD’S WAY
“But Lord…” He broke off, he wanted to say it was all Lara’s fault but he knew it was a wrong time for blame game.
So is all hope lost? Does that terminate it all? All you said, All you promised? The thought made his heart palpitate.
GO BACK TO JEREMIAH EIGHTEEN
He did as instructed and this time verse four struck him.
“He was making a pot from clay. But there was something wrong with the pot. So the potter used the clay again and he made another pot. He used his hands to shape the pot the way he wanted it to be.” Lanre read out.
ALL HOPES COULD ONLY BE LOST IF THE VESSEL GETS MARRED OUTSIDE THE POTTERS WORKSHOP, BUT IF THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE POT WHILE IT’S IN THE POTTERS HANDS, HE COULD BREAK IT AND MOULD IT AND MAKE IT JUST AS HE WANTS.
He exhaled and sank to his knees sniffling.
“Lord I’m in your hands break me, mould me, make and shapen me Lord. I’m sure she’s also in your hands. Oh Lord, do what you and you alone can do. Father I don’t know how but please perfect things your own way…” He found himself praying fervently.
It was an awesome experience. He felt God’s presence strongly, like never before. The holy spirit had always been speaking to him but it was different this time.
By the time he was done, his shirt was doused. When he opened his eyes everywhere was dark. He switched on his torch to see the wall clock and he was shocked to see how long he had spent in the place of prayer.
He felt refreshed and strengthened. He thanked the Lord and for the first time in a long while he smiled, a real hearty smile, not the kind he had been forcing for some days.