Running had been Tola’s favorite sport in elementary school. Several awards and medals of various colors of the tournaments she won were littered around in her parent’s study back in their family house in Lagos. But lately, Tola was done running. It seems to her that the older she grew, the bigger the things she ran from. She wasn’t just in a track meet, waiting for the referee’s whistle to blow. Now she was in life’s pitch and her knees are too wobbly to move.
“Dedun, I think I have a problem,” Tola said to her roommate, who had been reading from the Kindle app on her Tablet.
“What sort of problem?” Dedun, said nonchalantly, without looking up from the phone in her hands.
“I don’t know too. I feel like I have a problem in virtually every aspect of my life.”
“Ahah. But you do so well academically and you have a comfortable family who loves you.” Dedun sat upright now, paying attention.
“That is it! That love is my problem. I don’t seem to know how to show love and look, as much as I’m popular and smart and all, I don’t feel loved sometimes. Most days.”
“Wow. That’s new. But you have family and friends who genuinely loves you.”
“I do. I know I do but sometimes I think I’ve worked so hard to earn their love and so I have to keep working harder.” Tola sighed. “And the things I have to do makes me feel so empty!”
“Empty?” Dedun asked, skeptically. “Tola what is the source of this discussion?”
“Trust is, just last week I was in a group of people that I would formerly tag ‘the lowliest.’ There was nothing spectacular about them yet they exuded this kind of grace and joy, Dedun, you could actually see the spark in their eyes as they talked about Jesus. I wanted what they had but I didn’t feel worthy of it at all.”
This was happening! Dedun thought. Her friend and college roommate of two years was finally talking about Jesus! Don’t miracles still happen?
“Wow. Where did you meet this group of people?” Dedun asked.
“At the restaurant. Of all places! They came to eat and I sat opposite them watching them intently. They talked as if Jesus was right there in their midst, grinning at them. The love they had for this man was so evident that you would think He’s real.”
Dedun had been praying for the moment this conversation would happen and here is her chance to finally talk to her friend.
“Well, He is. Jesus is most definitely real.”
“Lmaoo. I know you are one of that i-go-to-church-regularly kind of girl but you and I both know you don’t meet Jesus seating on the front pew of your Sunday services. You won’t find him reading the Bible on the alter or doing those other things you do in the church.” Tola said.
“But we do feel Him! Of course, he won’t be there physically on Sunday services but He’s still so real, so close than the very air we even breathe.”
“I don’t know man. I just want to have a spark of what I saw in those guys.”
“I’m pretty sure you can. And yes, it still balls down to Jesus.”
“Dedun, I hope you know I’m a Christian too. I go to church back home and I’m sorry to break it to you but it’s just so incomparable with what I saw back there. Jesus isn’t just someone you bring up anywhere and wherever. We were taught that he lives in the sky, a place called heaven, that only goody two shoes who have ticked the boxes of every dos and donts he gave them are allowed into. And people like me, who find it hard to go a day without telling a lie, belong to the dungeon below, the one blazing with fire. I mean, how do you expect me to feel the existence of such a cruel personality?”
By this time, Dedun was almost choking from so much laughter. Tola got more infuriated and playfully kicked Dedun’s feet.
“Stop it. I don’t see what’s hilarious in this!” Tola said.
“First of all, who taught you these gibbers!?” She was curled up on the floor, laughing hysterically.
“Please leave me alone joor.”
“Okay, seriously speaking though, do I look like a goody-two-shoe?”
“Sometimes you try to be one. But you’re just generally sweet except during times like these when you laugh during serious moments.”
Dedun laughed again.
“I’m no goody-two-shoes and yet I’m very sure of the fact that Heaven is my final destination after this life.”
“How are you so sure about it?” Tola asked, confusion spreading through her face.
“Because God loves me!”
“That’s my point! You’re a sweetheart, everybody loves you. And look who the stable rebel is. Yours Truly. It’s hard to love a renegade.”
“Not my God though. At least, if you don’t remember anything else from Sunday school, you’ll remember the story of Jesus’ birth. How royalty was born in a manger, how he was made to become man, someone who has spoken and dined with Angels. How he had to suffer through the crucifixion and so many other trails on Earth. Why did you think he went through all those troubles?”
“I don’t know. For history to be made?”
Dedun’s face spread into a wide grin. Her friend could see she was fighting hard not to laugh.
“History was actually made but he did all that because of the love he has for humanity. Could you please help me recite John 3:16?”
Now Tola was the one laughing. “Bold of you to assume I know it. I haven’t opened my only bible in years”
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him..” Dedun recited.
“..will not perish but have everlasting life!” Tola finished the words, fists pumping in the air. “I know it! There’s still hope for me.” She shrieked while her friend joined her in laughing. One would think they were drunk with wine.
“That is it! The basis and foundation of all humanity has to enjoy. Love. The one that comes from God. The one he showed by giving up his only son. To actually die for our sins. And in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Dedun stood up to get water and continued after she was done gulping the water.
“He didn’t die because he was sure we would all repent. He didn’t die because we did something memorable for him while he was still alive but he died that we would have life and have it in abundance. His death has ruled out our death.”
“I’m no longer understanding oh, babe.” There was a hint of disbelief on Tola’s face.
“See, ever since Adam and Eve sinned back then, man literally signed a covenant with death. Separation became a thing. But God had a plan of redemption and that’s the laying down of Jesus’ life. So yeah, Jesus died to eradicate the covenant of death and give life instead.”
“Wow. So that means I don’t get to die anymore and actually stop worrying about death every minute?”
“Yes oh. Men who have accepted Jesus don’t die! We only sleep after we stop existing on Earth. Our mainland is Heaven.”
“But Dedun, you know I don’t have the best records. I mean, I suck at this Christianity thing.” Tola said, feeling a bit exasperated.
“Have you even heard anything I said at all? God loves you despite all you’ve done. He died for you while you still a sinner. God loves us so much to have laid down a plan that included us long before we came to Earth. After we accept Him, he totally cancels our sin! Every single one of them. And now, there’s no condemnation to them who believe. All those shame and guilt that stays heavy like a backpack on your shoulders, you don’t need them anymore. Christ has forgotten about your sins the moment you accept Him.”
“Oh my God! Nobody really explained this to me.” Tola gasped.
“And I know, being a believer isn’t a walk in the park, but look who empowers us?”
“Yes oh. He doesn’t start a work that He won’t finish. That’s why he gave us the Holy Spirit the moment we believe and accept Him. It is now the work of the Spirit to teach us and guide us into all truth!”
“Omooo!! See wisdom. Gosh, I’m beginning to see why you guys love Him so much. See Dedun, I want to experience all these too.”
“We love Him because He has first loved us. And if you’re ready to accept Him into your heart, it’s so easy. Just say these prayers.”
“Guy, I’m soo ready!”
“Dear Lord, I come to you today with my sins, I admit that I have fallen short of your glory, Lord. I believed you lived on Earth, you died for me, rose again and you’re still living. Thank you for making me a new creature. Father, transform me, renew me, and change me with the help of your Holy Spirit. Amen.”
After reciting the prayers, Tola looked up to her friend and muttered a quiet “that’s all?”
“Yes, that’s all. Welcome to the family of Abba’s children, Tola. I’m super happy for you.”
“Me too!” She said, shrieking.
“Now please can you make us dinner? I want fried plantain”
“Anything for you, Milady.” Tola said bouncing into the kitchen.
If anything is most real in my life, it is God’s love for me. If anything is more magnificent, more amazing, it is how God’s love has changed and transformed my life.
2021 is a blessed and glorious year. (I’m sure of it!) Now imagine spending a year with God’s love radiating all over you! What manner of bliss!
Start this year with God’s love. Believe and accept Him into your heart today and watch how he’ll transform you from the inside out.
And if you think that you have drifted apart from God, felt unmotivated to keep your relationship with God going, He will never turn His back against you. You are forever loved by God.
God is love and even when we were still sinners, so steeped in sin and shame and guilt, His son, Christ, died for us, guaranteeing us a life that never ends.
Happy New Year, Fam❤️❤️❤️
P.S: If you would like to accept this offer of everlasting love, please do say the prayers above or reach out to me via email. firstname.lastname@example.org
I love you💞💞