Grace That Flows

On the 5th day of the 5th month in the year 2004, my Pastor preached a message on the influence of the Holy Spirit, he made a statement and I quote;

‘When you begin to lose your peace, feel frustrated, don’t want to love, and don’t want to be in church; watch it! It’s got to be you going into error’.

Amazing how I remember the lines despite how long ago the message was preached; don’t be too perplexed, I only stumbled on my notes recently and the message just made a whole lot of sense to me. I wish it sunk immediately and I lived the immediate years in the consciousness of the importance of those words and how they were to be applied in my daily living; I would have avoided some mistakes made. Nevertheless, I am grateful I went through those days and though I stumbled, was trampled upon, defeated, enslaved, frustrated and overwhelmed; today, I am standing only because of the blood that was shed for the atonement of our sins.

2004 was the year I went for my National Youth Service Corp (for those who are not Nigerians; NYSC is service to the nation which is mandatory for all graduates and is carried out for a year. Graduates are usually posted to different states within the federation where they have their primary assignments with organisations) and it was a year that brought with it a turn of events in my relationship with family, friends and the supposed loved one I had dated for four years. Service year ended sooner than I knew, I got back home a more mature lady and like most of my peers anxious about getting that first job. Two months after my service, my first job came and I was more than glad until I got a call from the company HR manager announcing the arrival of my medical reports. For the first time in my life, I was fearful, the job I had gotten was threatened by medical conditions I had no prior knowledge of; the report read that I was Hepatitis B positive. I went back to the hospital to take another test but the result remained the same, I went to two other hospitals and they all had the same report. I began to surf the internet for the cause of this disease and was broken to find it had similar causes as the most dreaded HIV. I became angry in my spirit, most especially with God. I had been good, I kept my body in the fear of the Lord, I had loved and served God and couldn’t believe He would allow such a thing happen to me. I didn’t want to go to church anymore, I didn’t want to read the Bible nor hear the word preached, I kept away from my friends especially those we had grown in the faith together over the years, I stopped praying; what did it matter anyway. I had broken up with my ‘Christian’ boyfriend; not because of his belief but more because of his person. I didn’t know how I dated him for so many years and why it took so long for me to realize he just wasn’t the one.

Somehow, God still loved me but I just was too blind and stupid to see it; I got the job all the same and was advised to go back for another test in six months. I did and it turned out negative. My immune system was strong enough to have fought the hepatitis as the doctor explained, a lot of people live with the hepatitis but don’t even know it because people hardly go for routine check up and majority are fortunate their immune systems fight the disease so it doesn’t grow to be terminal. I still wasn’t going to make up with God because He had me humiliated; the lab attendant at the first hospital had mocked me when my nave self told him I was still a virgin. I worked hard and was recognised as a good staff at least that made me happy.

By 2006, I had met and started dating this very cool guy with western culture and mentality, I was glad I won’t be a full-fledged Naija wife. It was a romantic relationship; we would go on evening walks during the week and spend weekends either at the movies, pool, beach or an eatery of interest in town. No longer a church girl but I thought I still had morals, we started talking about marriage till things went the way I never imagined. He had to go for masters in the States but we had planned we would see each other at least once a year; I would fly out to the UK and he would meet me there since obtaining a UK visa seemed less stressful than an American visa. Things went as planned, I got a visa and there I was in the UK with the one I had grown so fond of, I couldn’t have known that trip would take away that which I had held so dearly for years. The relationship soon hit the rocks when lack of trust set in, I loved him a lot or so I felt then and I had shared my life with him; it hurt badly but I wasn’t ready for a major heart break, not from a man this time so I called it quits.

Back in Nigeria, mails flew back and forth for months, I wanted it to work but my heart just wasn’t forgiving him. I threw more caution to the wind and took to things I thought I had missed as a teenager and while I was on campus. I had a new set of friends who were fun to be with, we hung out a lot and I got to know a whole lot of fun places; wasn’t I just enjoying life? By now, I had forgotten all about scriptures but strangely, one passage would come to mind once in a while and I would feel so uncomfortable within me for a couple of hours maybe even minutes and then off I go again catching my fun:

“What shall it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul?”

2006 was such a long year with a whole lot of activities and events, it ended with a final end to Mr. Cool guy; sigh. 2007 was one year that had me fall deeper than I had before, I got bruised but stayed stubborn and adamant not to lose my pride which had been lost already, I struggled with myself, I was totally mystified, my life was in shambles and I wanted to put it all together again but achieving that proved a lost hope. I had fallen in love with another woman’s man, not husband at the time but they planned to be married. The months that followed had me entangled in a world I could never have believed even as teenage girl I would find myself. We had started as friends, we called each other after work every day and we talked into the night about any and everything. He became my confidant, my best friend and even the big brother I never had. I met his girlfriend whom he felt so strongly looked like me but immediately I saw her, I knew we didn’t look alike in any way. Guess his girlfriend got worried with the calls so to clear the air; he wanted us to be friends which I didn’t have a problem with. Telephone calls soon turned to late nights out, we went to as many new joints as we learnt about in the company of friends and sometimes by ourselves. His girlfriend and I kept in touch and sometimes she’d tell me how much she knew her boy friend liked me and how much he talked about me and how much he compared our personalities and how she feared he was in love with me and I would assure her we were just friends. He soon started complaining about his girlfriend to me, how much of a bore she could be, how he had misconstrued a wife material as someone who should just remain at home to maintain her status as a wife material. Now he felt he had found the real deal; an intelligent woman, a fun person, yet a wife material. I began to sense trouble but I wasn’t willing to lose a friend so I decided to try and make them see what attracted them to each other in the first place perhaps it would help him appreciate her again. I was wrong; he liked me more, and he thought I was just different; shouldn’t I have taken to my heels then? No I didn’t, I drew closer each day, and I wanted to be there for him as much as he was for me when Mr. Cool Guy messed up.

Something strange happened for a week in August 2007, my best friend and confidant started acting strangely. He started feeling uncomfortable in my presence, he wouldn’t talk for long on the phone any more, he always had this urgency to get off the phone each time I called. Sometimes he would miss my calls and call me back to apologise he wasn’t at a convenient place to pick my call. I should have known but maybe I still had not admitted my feelings for him then.

By October 2007, my friend and I had mutually accepted the feelings we had for each other but we were faced with the dilemma of what to do since he was in a relationship and was getting married the next year. I became confused when he would tell me how much he loved me but still had to marry his girlfriend of many years. At some point, he was bold enough to ask me to marry him and if I said yes, he would call the wedding off. I knew deep within that I couldn’t marry him for one reason; he was/is a Muslim. I could have been fighting with God, but that wasn’t meant to be forever, I knew I would get back to my senses one day and yield to His love again. Marrying a Muslim after all my schooling as a Christian was going to be the most stupid thing to do. Yet my heart became wicked, I wasn’t going to let go, I knew he wasn’t getting married to the right person. Once, he had his father talk to me, the man wanted anything that would make his son happy and he had been told I was the one that made his son happy. October also had him tell me why he had acted so strangely in August; he had gone for the engagement ceremony to his girlfriend in her hometown.

The wedding took place anyway, despite all the frenzy, I felt heartbroken and we didn’t stop at that. We were on the phone on their wedding night and everyday of their honey moon; he would talk on about how he wished I was the one he had married and how he was already regretting the choice he made. To cut the story short, we still saw each other for months after his wedding and he proposed going to the registry with me because that was the only law that could hold him bound, remember he is a Muslim and they had gotten married in church because the lady is a Christian. Things got worse for me, I wondered to myself where I had gone wrong and how I got so lost. I lived with people but felt so lonely, I had friends but felt all alone, I was losing it all; my world was not just the same anymore.

I started attending church service at my own convenience; the word wasn’t making much sense to me anymore. I would stay up in my room and journey back to my early years as a Christian, the zeal, the joy, the fire and the passion for the things of the kingdom. I wanted my life back but how was I going to get it back, I wanted to say, “Lord I’m sorry”, but one voice kept telling me I had gone too far and He wouldn’t accept me back. I would go to church some Sundays and feel His presence so strongly and would take the opportunity to ask for forgiveness, I would feel good the whole Sunday but once the week began; the voice would come back reminding me of all the horrible things I had done and how I had hurt the Lord and how his word says fornicators will not inherit the kingdom of God. I felt lost for life; there was no hope anymore, I had blown it all. I would cry myself to sleep instead of praying to God, I was too filthy to speak to Him, I started living in self pity. How could He ever forgive?

One Monday morning in the month of May 2009, I woke up with these words on my mind:

“My grace is sufficient for you”

I stayed up in bed for minutes pondering on those words like I had never heard it before, it sounded all new to me, it brought life to my soul, it lit up my heart, I cried in bed that morning. Those tears were not from a lost heart but from a grateful heart; The Lord still loved me! I wanted to say thank you Lord, but I got an instruction in my spirit to call up my friend’s wife and ask for forgiveness first. Wow! That was a blow to me, how was I going to call a woman and ask her to forgive me for having an affair with her husband? I had never even admitted to her though we were friends though because of our common interest. I sat up in bed and thought about what to say but the words weren’t coming, picked up my phone when the urge got intense and I trembled when I heard her voice. I made my confessions and asked her to forgive me, she told me she knew all that had happened because her husband had even gone to the extent of informing her he wanted to take a second wife and that was me. He had told her the moment I succumbed to his proposal; she should be ready to welcome me into the house. We spoke at length and when I dropped the phone, I felt a burden had been lifted but there was one more thing to be done; I had to face him and tell him all that we had between us had to stop. Again the words came; ‘My grace is sufficient for you’ and then another’ this kind can only come out only by praying and fasting’. I found myself praying to God that morning like a little child; I asked Him to help me, pick me up and make me whole again. I needed to pray and fast to break every evil pact I had gotten myself into; all the teachings I had ever heard about sex and soul ties started coming to me and I felt the urgent need to disengage myself from every tie God had not ordained. I started a seven day fast, during this period, I didn’t speak to this man neither did I see him. The only time I spoke to him, I told him we needed to talk but the time was not yet right; I needed some time and he agreed to give as much time. His wife had promised me she wouldn’t tell him about our telephone conversation until I had spoken to him and she kept to her promise. When I was done with my fast, God was true to His word; His Grace was sufficient for me. I faced my temptation and said good bye without any feeling of guilt or betrayal which I usually felt in time past when I tried to break free by myself.

May 2009, marked a new beginning in my life; God came through to and for me. He didn’t just stop at drawing me back to Himself; he did more which I would be writing about in a few days. I know there is a woman out there who can identify with this story because there is nothing new under the sun and God has spoken that He wouldn’t let His children pass through more than we can bear. Even though we fall several times, we can still stand up again, so I believe I must have gone through all I went through to touch one life out there and my prayer is that God’s grace comes through to and for you. Remember, it is not His desire to have anyone perish so get salvation while you can still get it, the blood of Jesus was shed to set us free and though the devil who is the accuser of brethren will come pointing fingers and accusing, never let him get a hold on you.

I have learnt the difference between the fall of a child and that of an adult. It is easier for the child to get back up again because he looks up immediately for the outstretched arm that will readily pick him up but when an adult falls, he looks back to see if any one saw him fall instead of looking up for that hand that will help pull him back up.

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