LOVE, LIKE THE CONSTANT, K
Short Story by Joy A. Adewumi ( Spirit Pen)
Zee opened her email inbox and hiked her eyebrows as she saw the latest mail. It was from some ‘firstname.lastname@example.org.’ With a bewildered chuckle she murmured, ‘Anonymous Z Z, kwa? Issokay!’
With an amused shake of her head, she opened her inbox and blinked rapidly at the first line.
‘As I write this email, Zee, I keep glancing at the bottle of painkillers I intend to overdose on.’
All traces of mirth cleared off her face and she shook her head slightly as though to clear it and read the line again. Since she had begun this email outreach where she invited any and everyone who wanted to share their worries and problems anonymously, she hadn’t seen a starter as shocking as this. She’d realised that even though many people were surrounded by lots of “friends” and acquaintances, they rarely opened up to their loved ones, for a myriad of reasons. As bizarre as it sounded, many people would rather spill to a complete stranger than talk to a friend. So, with a nudge from the Holy Spirit in that direction, she had begun this outreach, hoping to offer a listening ear to as many as answered and to stand in the gap for them in prayers. So far, she’d had lots of cases and testimonies followed.
This email however was taking things several notches higher. With a brief prayer for help and grace to reply healing into this person’s heart, she read on:
‘I’ve had it since last week when my whole world that had been tethering on an edge for a while finally tipped over. Right now, I’m hanging precariously on a sharp edge of stone that’s painfully biting into my palms. As I look around me, I see absolutely no one to help. Everything I ever had has gone down into nothingness and I am sorely tempted to just let go and disappear off the face of the earth. I have absolutely no desire or inclination to find my way back up because I would be going back to nothing.’
Zee’s brows scrunched in confusion and she wondered what could have gone so wrong with this person’s life.
‘Right now, I’m wondering why on earth I have not let go. I suppose even though I know there is nothing left for me, I still yearn for a ray of hope. When I saw your ad on the internet some days ago, I wondered if perhaps this was what I was hoping for. But even as I compose this email, I know I’m probably just grasping at straws. Looking for an excuse to keep living this miserable life of mine just a little longer. However, I’ve decided to write this anyway and simply think of it as my suicide note.’
Zee swallowed hard as her heart began to beat fast. This person would at least let her reply before he took his life, wouldn’t he? As she read on, she prayed frantically in her Spirit that the Holy Spirit would prevent the sender from overdosing before she replied. And even more frantically that He would minister the right reply through her.
‘I’m sure you’re wondering what could warrant taking my own life. Honestly, it might not be reason enough for the average person, however, it is everything for me. I am a final-year law student, more like ‘was’ a law student. I used to be the evangelism coordinator in my fellowship too. A month ago, I went on outreach with the evangelism team to a remote village in Ogun state. It was a weekend outreach. When we got there on Friday night, it was quite late and we were all too tired to do much praying or planning. My team of six and I simply thanked our hostess, who had offered to accommodate us when we had earlier come to check out the village, and turned in for the night.
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Zee leaned back, rolled her neck and continued reading.
‘That night, I sensed strange darkness surrounding our lodge, but I chalked it down to the idolatry prevalent in the village. It was normal, I thought. I murmured prayers of protection as I went to sleep. In my dream, a young girl came to me. It was pitch dark so I could barely see her face, but mysteriously as she began undressing before me, I could see everything she had to show as clear as day. I jumped off from my bed and began praying, but I was so tired, so before five minutes, the seriousness of the whole situation wore out and I went back to bed. As I did, I remembered the words of my dad, which he always said whenever I found an excuse not to pray or carry out a spiritual exercise as a child. He would say, “If a war broke out now, son, will you be too tired to run for your life?” I knew this meant I needed to sit up and pray for my dear life, but the sleep so consumed me that despite the warning, I couldn’t help but give in.’
Zee sighed as tapped her fingers on her table. She could almost predict where this story was going and her heart bled for this young man. She began praying in her spirit even as she continued reading the story.
‘The next day, my team and I rose to pray at the crack of dawn. After that, we set out to reach out to the villagers with the good news of Christ’s love. It went very well, no less than fifteen souls were added to the kingdom. This was a very good number in a village as small, remote and idolatrous as theirs. I was lost in the euphoria of this success that I forgot all about the previous night’s dream. As we returned to our hostess’ house that night, I saw a young girl in passing, and her mere silhouette aroused me in a way I had never before experienced. I was shocked to my bones and I dashed into the night to douse my face with some cold water. I was going to pray as soon as I could find some water, but as I made my way to the outhouse that functioned as the bathroom, the said girl came around. She couldn’t have been a day older than sixteen. She asked in the sultriest voice if I needed anything. That, Zee, was the beginning of the end for me. As if I had lost hold of my faculties, I dived into ten, short, but damning minutes of sinful pleasure with her.’
Goosebumps rose on my arms and I rubbed both arms as I sensed the darkness that shrouded and controlled that encounter. My spirit immediately rose to counter the intrusion as I burst out in tongues.
‘When we finished, I suddenly got a hold of my senses and I knew my world had tipped on its hinges. That night I cried and asked God for forgiveness. And though I knew He had forgiven me, I could neither forgive myself nor be the same person again.’
‘The next day, I merely went through the motions of visiting the converts with my team and making plans for follow-u. When we got back to school, the Holy Spirit kept telling me to go report myself to my pastor, but I knew how that would go. I wouldn’t be a case of simple suspension from my office as Evangelism Coordinator, the reasons for my discipline would be explained to the fellowship’s workforce too. It was too much shame to bare and I opted to just tell him that I wasn’t going to be Evangelism Coordinator anymore. But I hesitated. I lied to myself that it was because I hadn’t come up with the right excuse to give the pastor when in truth I just wanted to act like that night never happened and go on with my life as usual. I even tried to convince myself that this was between God and me and God had forgiven me. After all, when I came to Christ I didn’t have to tell anyone about my decision. However, they were all just excuses. I knew I needed to talk to my pastor so that the hold of secrecy the devil had on me would be shattered. And who cared if I lost my dignity and pride, it was a matter of my soul! But I cared. I cared too much and that was my ruin.’
Zee sighed at this juncture as she pondered how easy it was for the devil to make our lives spiral out of control when he has us right where he wants us. Once he has a person trapped in the guilt of secret sin, it’s always almost a sure battle for him, from there.
‘Even as I hesitated and wondered what to do, I couldn’t help but wonder who that young girl was. I wondered why it was so hard for me to pray the night before the incidence despite the gravity of what I had seen in my dream. I wondered if our hostess was somehow in on it all. More importantly and worriedly, I wondered what their end game was. Was it just to make me fall? Did that encounter have more implications than just making me fall? Was it some sort of witchcraft ritual? Zee, I was almost going mad!’
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Zee saw the guy’s concerns for what they were and she wanted to abandon the rest of the email and begin praying immediately. However, something told her she hadn’t quite gotten to the actual reason for the suicidal thoughts, so she settled for praying in her spirit as she read on.
‘Academically, I could hardly concentrate. I was botching up too many tests and assignments but not even that was enough to make me do the needful. The devil had me right where he wanted me.’
‘Two weeks after the incident, my life literally ended in its prime. Some pictures were sent to my class group. They were pictures of that night!’
Zee sucked in a breath and one tear slipped down her face. No, no, no! She thought wishing she could somehow undo what had happened.
‘Before the day ended, several news outlets on campus had aired the news alongside the pictures and by nightfall, it was all over WhatsApp and campus. Both of my phones were ringing off the hook and it was from everyone I knew and some I didn’t. I hightailed it out of campus the next morning barring the fact that I had an important test that day. I went to my grandma’s place in Ibadan and told her we were on break. She was the only one who wasn’t literate enough to ask me more. I told her not to tell my parents because they’d want me to visit home and I preferred her quiet and uncrowded place for the holidays. Gran was just over the moon with joy and I felt like a piece of dirt for manipulating her so. I also knew my parents would not call her about my missing status. One, because it was as good as telling her that her grandson was missing. Two, because they probably couldn’t have imagined I was here. I hadn’t visited for a prolonged visit since I was seventeen.’
Zee sighed as tears burned in her eyes.
‘Zee, I’ve been here for a full week and some days now. I’m sure the news has reached my family. I can only wonder how far they’ve gone out of their minds looking for me. But then I also wonder if they’re glad I’m nowhere to be found. I mean, this shame has to reflect on their reputation as much as it does mine. My exams will start in a few short weeks but with how much classes, tests, and assignments I have missed, I know I might as well not bother going to write the exams. Besides, I can’t just waltz back to school hoping time would have solved everything. And I know there is also the fact that the both the schl and faculty have zero-tolerance for misconduct, to consider. That means if apart from botched up this semester and getting myself an extra year, there’s the possibility of a suspension in my future.’
‘The fellowship? Let’s not go there, please. What I feared most came upon me, anyway. My secret was out and that, in the goriest way thinkable. So, now, while Gran thinks I’m always indoors because I am studying, I’m just waiting for the right time to take these pills, knowing she wouldn’t sense anything out of place till I’m out of here.’
Zee sniffed as she steeped her fingers in front of her, praying desperately for mercy for this sender.
‘I am not mad at anyone. Not at the girl with whatever powers she employed to bring me down. Not at myself for not praying when it mattered most. Not at whoever took and released the pictures. Not at anyone. I’ve simply realised that my life as I know it, is over. All I ever worked for or identified as is gone. I’ve asked for God’s forgiveness more times than I can count, but I can’t seem to forgive myself. More so, even though I know I’m forgiven, I don’t see how my ruined life could be redeemed back to normal in this lifetime. My reputation, ministry, dreams and aspirations have all gone down the drain. That you see is my world that has tipped over.’
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‘As I said, I wonder why I haven’t downed that bottle of pills yet. I know suicide is wrong. I have preached against it. Written against it. Even condemned, canvassed and campaigned against it. But here I am, seeing no way out but to take my own life.’
‘Zee, you’re probably like me who always thought, no matter how bad it was, why would anyone settle for ending their own lives? But then, maybe you’re not. Maybe you have a real solution for me. Either way, your reply is the only thing standing between me and eternity.
Zee heaped her hands on her head and paced the length of her room wondering what on earth she was supposed to write back. Did the guy just write that her response was the only thing standing between him and suicide? What could she say that would make him change his mind?
Keziah. Stop pacing.
At that scolding from the Holy Spirit, she stilled and began praying frantically for wisdom to reply to the email.
It’s not you or your response that will save him. And it’s certainly not how fast you respond that will save him either. I’ve kept him from swallowing those pills he mentioned so far and if you let me use you, we can save this one completely from the clutches of hell.
I released a deep breath, settled down at my table and posed my fingers over my keyboard, saying, ‘Holy Spirit, okay, I’m all yours. Let’s go.’
No, you aren’t typing a response yet. Now, you pray. You pray for a soul tethering on the edge of a cliff and about to let go and drop into the unforgiving depths of hell.
Understanding dawned on me and I prayed as the Spirit gave me utterance.
I prayed that the undying and unending love of God will find the sender of the email. I prayed that he would experientially rediscover that love as he’d never done. I pleaded that rather than see his life from the perspective of someone who believed his life was over, that he would see himself the way the Father saw him at this point. I asked that God would revive in him a strong desire to live again. I prayed that God would open his eyes to see how his life could make sense again. I cried and prayed with every fibre of my being as the weight of a precious soul hung heavily on my shoulders. When the Holy Spirit finally relieved me of my burden, three hours had passed and I still felt like there was more to pray about. Instead, the Holy Spirit nudged me back to my table. I guessed it was time to write back.
When I opened my email, however, there was another email from Anonymouszz in my inbox. Fear crawled into my heart. Had he given up on waiting for my reply and had instead decided he would go ahead. As I opened his email, the Holy Spirit scolded me:
When you pray, have faith. If there is a man to stand in the gap and travail, then there’s certainly a God to answer and there is nothing impossible with Him.
I sighed as I began reading the email, hanging on to my little faith and praying nothing had gone wrong.
‘Zee,’ it read, ‘I had no idea you were a Christian. I thought you were probably just a therapist.’ She was a Christian therapist, but how on earth had he figured that out?
‘I fell into a trance, you know. And you were there.’ What on earth?!
‘The last time a young woman was in my dream, she did it in the cloak of darkness. I could barely see her face. After that, my life got ruined. Today, another young woman came into my dream in broad daylight and introduced herself. Isn’t the difference between life and death as clear as day?’ Still bewildered at his revelation, Zee wondered what on earth she had told him, or better still, what the Holy Spirit had told him using her form.
‘The first thing you said was for me to lose that bottle of pills because it wouldn’t change a thing other than add a final tragic twist to my already gory story. You said that bottle was the ink with which the devil will write the final story of my life. You were right when you said my story wasn’t going to change just because I committed suicide. You were even more on point when you said, my only chance of turning things around was to trust God to redeem my past and give my story a happily-ever-after-ending.’
‘But you know what got me?’ Zee crunched her eyebrows in curiosity.
‘You got me when you said you were praying for me. You took me to different venues to show me several people who were also travailing for my soul. My parents and siblings, my fellowship members, my pastors and their families and even some of my classmates from other fellowships, all pleading vehemently with God for my soul. I crumbled down in tears when I saw them. Those people didn’t look like they condemned me and I wondered why on earth I deserved that kind of love. I deserved to be discarded and trampled underfoot, but there were more people than I could imagine interceding for my soul, including you, who didn’t know me from Jack! Now, I know why I hadn’t overdosed on those pills yet.’
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‘This trumps any email you could have written back, you know. After you took me to see those interceding for me, you then escorted me back to Calvary. And there on the cross, my Saviour bled painfully so that I can be free from the claws of suicide and damnation. I realised anew that for the purpose of my redemption was Christ manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. How could I not drop down to my knees and ask for pardon for considering making Christ’s sacrifice of no effect?’
More tears spilt down Zee’s eyes and she thanked God profusely for His undying love. Surely, God could never be stereotyped. She had thought this guy’s salvation hinged on how powerful and convincing her response was, but here he was, delivered and set free without a single letter from her.
‘Zee, I don’t know you, never might, but I should thank you for making the predicament of some random guy, yours. As soon as I woke up from that trance, I felt the darkness that had surrounded me for the past few weeks had lifted and the light of life perfused my entire being again. Of course, my first line of action was to empty the offending bottle into the toilet sink. Thank you again for that charge. I have rededicated my life to God and once again I can feel His love around me like a shawl and over me like a canopy. I mean, how can I not? He led me right into the inbox of an intercessor and led a total stranger to intercede for my defeated and dying soul?’
Joy spread across Zee’s heart as she glorified God for doing the impossible. He had revealed His love to a lost and depressed soul in the thickest darkness and had translated Him back into the kingdom of His dear Son. She was super glad to be a part of this redemption story. She felt the rapture could take place now and she would feel most fulfilled, but she knew there were more to snatch from the claws of the devil. And boy, was she ready!
‘I’m travelling home to Lagos, tomorrow. I don’t know what I would be faced with there, but I know now that whatever I face, both there and at school, my life is far from over. Because my life can’t be over until God says so. And even if I’ve never heard God in my life, I know without a shadow of a doubt, right now, that He’s saying that my life is not over. I don’t trust myself to scale through this. My suicidal thoughts have proved I can’t do it by myself. But I trust God because He was able to lift me up using a therapist I’ve never met, so, I’m sure He would move heaven and earth to make my life worthwhile again.’
Zee sighed with a tearful smile and a sigh, as she read the last paragraph.
‘Keep me in your prayers, Zee. This is the intermission stage of my life. Please pray that even if my past hovers over my head for the rest of my head, a beautiful sequel would always follow its narration. Thank you once again for interceding for me.’
Regardless of how far you’ve gone, how irredeemable you think you are, or even how ruined you believe your life is, God’s love for you is a constant. He loves you and needs you to see that He can turn your mess into a powerful message of His redeeming power and love.
The belief that your life is over is a lie the devil desperately wants you to believe and will go to any lengths to make you act on, but a lie is a lie regardless of how it is told. Christ died for your redemption and always has a foolproof comeback plan for your life. You just need to see His love for you and accept it.
Turn over the wheels of your life to Him and let Him redirect you back on track. Then, watch in awe as He turns what you think is ruined beyond repair into a beautiful testimony of redemption and recovery.
Yours in improvement,