THE THORNS OF LIFE
I felt so thirsty and hungry. My back was bent as I walked and my legs threatened to collapse. In short, I was really stressed.
Coming to think of it, I would have been walking now, for the past two hours. That is, if my estimation is correct. I recalled I was really good at guesses.
I continued to walk nevertheless. There was nothing worth waiting for anyway. I shrugged and continued to walk.
And then, in a flash, I heard a sound. It was like that of a bird flying by. I haven't heard any sound since I started walking, so I was a bit startled as i looked up and traced where I heard the sound from.
Then, just right there, I knew something was amiss.
"How come? How did I get here?" I asked myself.
I recalled I started my walk from my house and I passed through the main market opposite the post office across the street. I never noticed where I was walking though. I just knew I was walking.
But come to think of it, I've never seen this place before. It looks... I mean, it looks weird!
I've never seen a wilderness before in my entire thirty-five years but, this looks like what I've read of in magazines. Everything there, was obviously dry. I wondered if any plantatation had ever grown there. No sign of any living being and I began to wonder if I was not among these pitiable dry things!
I wondered if I should go on or go back. I decided to go back.
At least, if one doesn't know where he is going, he will know where he is coming from. I nodded as I recalled it was my late Grandmother's best wise sayings.
I turned back to go.
The sound of my name made me turn around. I felt a little scared because of the way that voice called my name.
My name is Oladele but for some reasons, I preferred people call me Ladele. It makes me feel, somehow... somehow, special.
I waited to see if I would hear the voice again. When I did not, I turned back and continued my journey.
"Ladele!" The voice called again.
Now, I was really bold.
"Who are you?" I roared.
The voice sounded so calm and gentle and I began to fear if it was the voice I was already suspecting.
"Jesus?" I asked to confirm my fearful intuition.
"Yes, it's me Ladele. Finally, you recognize my voice. I am He, your maker, your Father. The I am that I am. The prince of peace, the lion of..."
"Oh! please." I interrupted. "I know who you are, okay. The masterpiece, the chief conerstone, the everlasting one, the king of kings. I knew you, I served you, I preached to people to serve you, I prayed to you, I exhausted my time, money and resources for you. You know how my week days are tedious right? And I still create time. I still create time to serve you. But what do I get in return? Dissapointments, death, failures and shame! Shame, oh, my God!" I poured out as I sobbed.
"You just called me", the voice said calmly.
"What?" I asked almost immediately.
"You just said; oh, my God! And I am your God." The voice replied again calmly.
"Please, stop. Just stop, okay? I only need an explanation from you. Why did Rhoda die?" I said angrily.
"Ladele! Human beings die. He that is made of the soil must return to the soil. Your body is not immortal yet."
"But you knew about the relationship. God! You said yes to me. Yes, God. You said, yes! You told me clearly on a tuesday morning after I had my devotion. You made me fall in love with her and then you took her! You said, yes to me Lord. I'm sure you can't deny that!" I fired back.
"I don't deny anything Ladele. I am true to my words and I value my words more than my name. It is true that I said, yes to you, Ladele. Rhoda was your wife as well as she is my daughter. I said, yes to you because, both of you were meant for each other during the course of her life here on earth. She died because her days were already fulfilled on earth and she had accomplished all that I want her to accomplish, including marriage. She had kept herself so well and I did not want her to die a virgin. Now, she is with me, enjoying."
"Oh, my God!" I sobbed loud.
"Ladele! I love you! You mean so much to me. You are the apple of my eye and I can't hurt you. Do you think it was easy to undergo so much pain for a crime I did not commit? I died for you Ladele. I loved you and still do."
"You love me, abi? Okay. Why did Mrs. Williams, a client whom I struggled for and even staked my employment, stop picking my calls? She even threatened to arrrest me if I continued pestering her after promising me she would arrange for me to be flown abroad for holidays and also a large sum of money to complement me if she got the contract! She got the contract. And even though the deal was still legal, I had to struggle and convince my boss that she would be the best engineer for our work. Why did that happen? Why? I felt so dissapointed."
"I had to do that because, if I hadn't and she had flown you abroad, you wouldn't in anyway trace the miracle back to me. Also, I wanted to show you how dissapointing humans can be. I want you to depend only on me and me alone."
The tears on my face had began to flow freely.
"Okay. What about my job? I was sacked, Father, unjustly. And you know it. Why did you let that happen?"
"Ladele! My ways are not your ways. That job was not the best of jobs I would have you do. I have better plans for you. I know if I had told you to quit the job and trust me for another one, you will be fast to rebuke it as the voice of the devil."
"You should have told me. I would have quit the job!" I said through clenched teeth.
"Ladele! I know you better than you know yourself." The voice said calmly.
"But God, the pain, shame. The shame is too much. I was accused of theft of the company's money. A place where I had preached against changing figures of money. They were laughing at me father. The unbelievers. Even some christians who thought I am a fanatic, that I am too spiritual, that my own is too much on your matter. The shame. I can't go back home", I said with tears streaming down my face.
"Ladele. I know you have passed through a lot in your flesh but recall I did not promise you a bed of roses throughout. Not that I couldn't have made it lesser for you, but you are a stubborn hearted person. You don't depend on me for all things. And you are too insensitive in the spirit. I had placed a warning for you some years back. If only, if only you listened!"
"You should have forgiven me. Instead of making me pass through all this", I said admist tears.
"I did not punish you Ladele. No, I did not. I wanted you to learn, to correct your mistakes, to make you wax stronger in the faith and to preach it to others. Remember Job?" The voice asked.
"Yes, of course. Job in the bible." I answered as i wondered where this was going.
"Did you think i punished him?"
"No. You wanted to test his faith even though it was satan's idea." I answered brilliantly. "Are you saying I am a second Job?" i inquired again.
"Not necessarily. Job is Job. You are Ladele. And do you know I love you more than Job?"
"Really? Why?" I was caught unawares by that question.
"Because, I died for you. There is a blood connection between us. See..."
I could imagine Jesus smiling, so I smiled as I got the point He passed across.
"I love you too Father. And I am sorry for my harsh words. I was so..."
"It's okay, son. I understand." The voice interrupted.
"Father, I am..." I tried to talk again.
"Ladele, my son, the apple of my eye. I want you to go back now." The voice said again.
"To where?" I asked surprised
"To the world. To say true, my words." The voice replied.
I looked around, surprised.
"Am I not there already?"
"No, you are not. At least, not now. And I will still need you there for a long time."
I knew he was gone. His voice grew thinner into the skies already. I began to smile.