It is easy for all to pray, kneel down and acknowledge that there is a God somewhere, pointedly above. A God that is the reason for an ‘us’. But then when we rise from our knees, we forget the mouthed prayers we just uttered, we are again faced with the travails of time, the hardship of the present, the piled debts, the costs of survival, and all the rigours and storms of life that knock us senseless. Through all these, we believe its our strength against the world. Through all these, we are tempted to stride the way of doom as it obviously offers us the gateway from our storms. We try out ‘rituals’, ‘scams’, ‘kidnapping’, amongst others, just to slay for the gram, and believe we measure up to those who do.
It is also not surprising that before we completely venture into these crimes, we commit our efforts into God’s hands. The armed robber ‘prays over the guns’, while applying all sorts of concoction, charms and amulets over their bodies, after which they ‘thank God’ for a robbery well done. On the other hand, the ritualist ‘prays not to get caught or get linked in the murder and dismembering of several human parts’, and after this atrocious act, they occupy the front rows of the churches, dancing in thanksgiving to God, with ‘heavy envelopes’, as if to tell God, “this is your share, by this ‘you don chop, I don chop”. And the circle continues. It does not therefore come as a surprise, that Evans (the headline-sensation kidnapper) makes sure, the family prays to ‘Dear Lord’ before he undertakes his deeds. Wonderful. Let’s not be oblivious, or intentionally overlooking the portion of the scripture that states ‘be ye not be deceived God cannot be mocked’.
Little wonder the poet proclaimed in the poem ‘The Navel of the Soul’:-“O Lord the things that are done in your name!” (4th stanza) and then one will ask, why is God so lenient in our time? Has he stopped to react over issues? But then testimonies abound of his deeds on the daily, therefore he sees all things and still reacts. Then why the leniency in all the prevailing atrocities at the rate of a clock’s tick-tock? This ushers us into Grace! The realm and time of his grace which we are living! For Christ desireth not even in the death of sinners. This is glaringly shown in the times of the once dreaded Saul, a name whispered in the Christian corners with unnerving chills of horror, and shiver (Today known and addressed as Paul, the most ferocious apostle of his time in the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ). Before his personal encounter with God, Saul as he was then known took a specialty, a hobby, a passion and an addiction in ensuring that there was no body alive spreading the gospel of Christ. As a matter of fact, he took an oath to worship through ensuring that no single gospel-spreader was spared, he was so much fueled with hate and disdain for Christians that he undertook a journey to Damascus to slay all the Christians that have escaped to find refuge in what is left of the Christian community in Damascus. That was the vision, his mission, his earnest desire, until, he encountered Christ on that very journey, with a voice halting him with a piercing call “Saul, Saul, Why Are You Persecuting Me?” and that became the encounter that changed everything.
Now in all those dark times of the persecution of Christians, the disciples and apostles of Christ where fervently praying, fervently fasting and fervently looking up to Christ From thence cometh their help, and in all those times, they believed answers weren’t forthcoming especially as news got to them that “the tormentor Saul” has even left his base and was riding for them in Damascus. But God did hear alright, and actually made his name manifest, turning the once violent Saul to one of the most viable instruments of his gospel. So God does hear. In our time, the dreaded experience of the times of Saul can be likened to the killing of Christians in Southern Kaduna, or bokoharam’s nefarious activities on Christians. A lot of ills are glorying themselves by the day, bad things happen, and we pray looking up, bowing down, kneeling down, prostrating, calling out, and then, hoping, and expecting that answers will come. Know ye this day, that God does hear, Christ does see. Our sufferings, our efforts, our struggles, our desperations, he is aware. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”(Matt 11:28-29) Remember, “the arm of the lord is not short to save, his ears are not deaf, neither are his eyes blind”.(Isiah 59:1)
It is also not in doubt, that we struggle most times to turn back to Christ after committing sins, because there is so much guilt, there is that reminder that ‘we are dirty’, very unworthy to call upon him. This guilt weigh us down, when we want to turn to him or pray. At the end of the day, with this burdened feeling, many turn far away from him. Many lose their way further into the mess they have made or have become. A belief that our sins are so heinous that Christ himself wouldn’t want us. False!!! That’s the devil. That’s the enemy, who only heightens the sin more than the Grace of Christ himself. In this realm of Grace made possible by the death and resurrection of Christ, the mercy of God is emphasized, enlarged and emboldened. No flaw, no scar, no sin scare him, for in his perfection our imperfections are accommodated without worries. The blood of Jesus Christ speaketh mightier things than the blood of Abel, and by HIS blood, we are set free from sins and sorrows. “Even though, your sins are red as blood, I’d wash you whiter than snow”(Isiah 1:18) “If you confess your sins I am able and Just to forgive you” (1 John 1:19). Oh what a love! Oh what a Lord! Oh what a Christ! The Blood of Jesus sets you free from sins and sorrows. Oh what a blood! How many parents would disown their children for committing an offence, irrespective of how weighty, irrespective of how ‘ear-wrenching’ or ‘jaw dropping’ the offence is? Let alone Christ, when he states “even if your mother and father desert you, I will never desert you”.(Psalm 27:10, Isa 49:15) There is nothing, absolutely nothing that you have done that he can’t forgive, “his grace is sufficient, even in our weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9) “For while we were yet wallowing in sin, he came to die, what more now that he died for the sake of you” (Romans 5:8).
His sacrifice is enough to accommodate our worries, bothers, or struggles and he said pray this prayer ‘…Give us this day, our daily bread’, further ‘…your hairs are counted, and none shall be missing,’ (Luke 12:7) as if that is not enough assurance, he goes further to tell us ‘fear not for I have overcome the world’, he raised the dead, healed the sick, cast out demons, turned water into wine, his many works awe the world, and even as he took his last breathe, there were still wonders, earthquakes, the curtains of the temple were shred in two, darkness immediately loomed at day, and his dying statement was “it is finished”. How come about our thoughts that we wrestle with our strength, while the war has already been fought and won.
In the dark room of our fears, Christ is. In the times of our mournings, Christ is. As we journey to and fro, Christ is. In that empty room, Christ is. As you do that which you are doing right now, Christ is. As you say that prayer, Christ is. When you take that step, Christ is. Whatever you do, wherever you go, wherever you are, Christ is. Christ really is, waiting, hugging, longing and not judging you. Dear you, keep calm and be ye encouraged for Christ has indeed overcome the world.
Linda Osuagwu Onyinyechi is a practicing lawyer, a writer and a poet with an earnest desire and passion in advocating for societal peace and a greater becoming. She believes in the power of the pen, and the power of the mind for ‘What the mind can conceive it can achieve’.