REDEEMED (A SERIES) – EPISODE 17
(WRITTEN BY JOY A. ADEWUMI)
Femi felt a heavy grip on his heart as he shrugged out of his coat in the men’s changing room, hoping to take a quick break. What on earth was wrong? He recognized this feeling and it bothered him! As he settled on one of the narrow beds, the feeling took on a scary urgency and he dashed out of the room, speaking in tongues in his spirit. He headed straight to the hospital chapel, knowing it would be almost deserted and it would be the most suitable place to address the burden in his heart.
As he spoke in tongues, a vision came up in his mind’s eye and the sight of a doctor trying to resuscitate Roland, to no avail, came to focus.
He glanced at his watch and saw that it was barely three hours since the guy had left. What on earth could have happened within three hours?
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‘Lord Jesus, have mercy. Don’t let the devil have this soul. I can tell You have big plans for this one and of course the devil does too. But please, let mercy prevail. Holy Spirit, please continue what you have started and bring into focus the crack of heaven you have shown him.’
‘You said You will have mercy on whom You will have mercy and compassion on whom You will have compassion. And You said the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous man avails much. Lord, I ask in all humility that You will have mercy on this soul. The devil wants him to look away from the amazing offer You have made to him and is trying to magnify his hurt and problems. Please, open his eyes to see Your love and how beautiful his life can be.
‘Don’t let Calvary go to waste in his life. Don’t let his soul and destiny be wasted in hell. Don’t let the devil win. Lord, let Your mercy run to him with startling speed and rescue him from the archenemy of his soul.’
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‘Lord, whatever might be rocking his boat right now, making him give into the instrument the devil is set to use to destroy his soul, I ask that You will speak peace into the situation and calm his spirit. I speak peace! Peace! Peace, right now, in the name of Jesus!’
Some more prayers and tongues.
‘Oh God! This soul must not be lost! This soul must not be wasted! Roland, open your eyes and see Mercy running to you right now! I relinquish hell’s hold on you. You are free! You will not die! Receive the grace of God to see Calvary right now! Receive God’s grace to see beyond your hurt and pain! Open your eyes and see a crack of heaven!’
‘Doc, I really do not want to die!’ I cried in frustration as hot tears streamed down my face and I heard Doc’s voice on the other end of the line.
I collapsed to the floor with my back against the bar and held my aching head in my free hand as pain ricocheted through my frame.
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After I’d downed the first cup, my mind flew to Doctor Ugo, my attending doctor’s words again about my close shave with death two nights ago, and almost immediately was followed by Doctor Damz’s admonition again. Fear gripped my heart and I realised I really didn’t want to die. Was not ready to die. Like someone possessed by a force, I shoved my hands into both pockets looking for Doc Damz’s contact and promptly dialed it. He picked on the first ring.
‘I truly don’t want to die! I want to live! I want whatever I can have as far as it is different from this messed up life I currently have. I want to see my sister. I want to hug her. I want to be sure she’s okay!’ And I bawled some more like an infant. Doc did not say a word but I could hear some soft mutterings in the background.
‘I want to be happy! I want to be free from the grip of my demons. This pain constantly plaguing my soul, I want out!’
I swallowed hard against my aching throat and continued, ‘I thought my life was manageable before now, but you waltzed in and showed me it is anything but! You showed me something better and now I don’t want to settle for less, when I can have more. Doc, please help me. ‘I sobbed hard. I didn’t even care that I sounded like a toddler at that point.
‘You were right, I continued, It’s not a favorable bargain. Giving up a potentially better life just so I can keep hating on Otunba and consequentially, going down this path, is not a reasonable decision. I still hate the man so much, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to forgive him, but I still want the life you talked about. The one where I can at least ensure I don’t end up like him.’
Then I turned into a kneeling position as I sniffed, as though I was physically with him, ‘Please Doc, help me!’
Doc sighed and murmured some more things under his breath that I couldn’t make out, but before I could clarify he said, ‘Roland, this decision is about exchange.’ I was so attentive like my life depended on it. And I guess it did.
‘Exchange your old lifestyle for the one Christ would have you live. Exchange your pain for His peace. Exchange your sorrow for His joy. Exchange your shortcomings and failures for His help. Exchange your weakness for His strength. Do you follow?’
‘Yes,’ I answered as my breathing evened out, and the sniffs subsided.
‘So, are you ready to do that?’ He asked his voice hopeful. Was this man kidding me? I was the one in dire need of help here.
‘Doc, I assure you, that’s why I called.’
Then he replied, ‘Then do exactly that right now. Tell it to God in prayer. It is a very private moment, so you could decide to be quiet, but make sure you’re letting go of everything at Christ’s feet. Yes, I know there are lots of things you might not be able to let go of completely right now, but let your sincerity and willingness to take on this journey shine through.’
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I closed my eyes and my mind was blank for a moment before it filled up with thoughts with a billion things I needed to say. Despite Doc’s encouragement that I could be quiet, I spoke up, and laid everything out that I could think of at that moment.
My pain. My dissatisfaction. My addiction. My temper. My hate- even though it was so hard merely expressing it, there was a push in my heart to just say it anyways, and a tear escaped my shut eyelids as I obeyed the nudge and said it. Then, as I remembered, I added my sister.
I told God as Doc further instructed that I wanted the life He sent His only Son to purchase for me. I told Him that I wanted Him to forgive and transform me. That I needed His presence in my life even more than my next breath- and I meant it. Then I thanked Him for hearing my prayer. After that, Doc closed the prayer with the name of Jesus and I echoed an ‘Amen.’
‘Is that really all?’ I asked, but knew the answer even before Doc chuckled and replied. I could feel the literal lightening of my heart, like a trailer burden I wasn’t erstwhile conscious of had been lifted. I felt so light; I would have argued the last hour never happened if the very evidence was not staring back at me on my bar counter as I stood up.
‘Yes, Roland. That’s all. And I truly congratulate you. This is the start of something great in your life. Your life is under a new management. You are a new man in every sense of the word and those demons can lay no claim to your life anymore.
Going forward, we’ll need to communicate more frequently, so that you can understand better the dynamics of the Christian life and so that the devil doesn’t steal what you’ve just got.’
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I nodded giddily and even rattled out my address to Doc, forgetting he had been at my residence before. He laughed and said he might not be able to visit soon because of his tight schedule, but he’d make sure to squeeze a call in frequently. I smiled, glad for the care and concern. The joy that set my heart dancing was just unexplainable and the peace I felt was foreign but certainly one I could get used to very fast.
Then we talked some more even as I made several trips between my bar and the kitchen sink, emptying the glasses and bottles of drinks into the sink with my free hand.
He said to call him or talk to God whenever I felt the urge to go to the bar- indoors or outdoors and to picture the cross of Christ whenever my dad was around me whether in my thoughts or physically. He also told me that there was no better place to get a grasp of my new faith than the Bible. So, I had to get to the nearest Christian bookstore and get a hardcopy of the Bible.
‘If you have any problem understanding anything you read, let me know preferably through a WhatsApp text and I’ll definitely find time to get back to you.’ He’d said.
Excitement raced through my veins as I itched to get off the phone and get started, but he asked that I rest first and then go ahead.
Then finally before we ended the call, he told me he was going to send a list of books and chapters for me to start my Bible study with. I dropped the call, relishing the unfamiliar peace that flooded my being. Sleep knocked and warred with the excitement that made me itch to talk to God some more, so as I dumped the sofa for the comfort of my more suitable bed, I decided I would talk to God till the excitement wore off and sleep overcame.
As I laid on my bed, the soft feeling more inviting than ever, I placed my hands behind my head on the pillow and began, ‘God-‘ I chuckled at my unexplainable joy and couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, ‘-I really don’t know what this is. This joy, peace and comfort like I’ve never known in my whole life; but if this is what being Your son entails, then I want more of You. I want to be more to You. I don’t want this to ever end. And I certainly don’t want to give it up for anything in the world. So, please help me, because I feel right now like this is too good to be true and I’m scared I will make a huge mistake, because I don’t know the first thing about this whole stuff.’
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At that point, my eyes got heavy and I widened my eyes with effort as I quickly added, ‘By the way, I just want to thank you for Doc and B-‘
My phone rang, jarring into my train of thoughts and I turned to check the caller ID.
It was an international call. An unsaved digit, but I picked the call anyway.
‘Hello, Roland Kalejaiye here. Who am I unto?’
‘Hello, can you hear me?’
No answer, again. Poor connection?
I glanced at the phone screen and returned it to my ear after confirming the call was still connected, even placing it on phone speaker.
‘Hello, I-‘ then there was a beep, signalling what I was sure was the end of the call, but I checked anyway, and I was right.
I redialled the digits, but no reply, not even a voicemail prompt for me to at least identify the caller, or drop a message in case it was actually the connection acting up earlier.
When the service provider dropped the call, I shrugged and went on to finish my prayer. But just as I gave into the warm cocoon of sleep, my phone rang again.
I groaned, not appreciating the disturbance, but before I could reach for it on the bedside table where I had placed it, the call dropped. And when I checked, it was the same caller.
What on earth?
Was this some con-person or prankster? Either way, nothing could dim my joy; I slept off cocooned in a cloud of happiness.
Femi dropped the call with a huge sigh followed by a song of thanksgiving. He knew something had happened that got Roland all worked up, and though the guy never mentioned it, It was obvious. Whatever led to the series of events that just unfolded however, he was grateful for it. Finally, this soul was now Christ’s. And just like every other time he’d been used by the Holy Spirit to lead a wandering soul back to Christ, he felt incredibly humbled and grateful. The excitement that he was partially responsible for the joy in heaven at the moment made all the sacrifices that brought them to this moment worth it. The sacrifice of having to pick up Roland that night from the club. The sacrifice of staying back the day before, even after his shift when he should have grabbed the opportunity to dash home for some much-needed rest. The beautiful knowledge that a soul had made his way back to the Savior made it all worth the while and as he laid his head on the backrest of the pew in front of him, he whispered a plea for grace to help disciple this soul for Christ and not be careless with it.
‘Doc Damz!’ A feminine voice called from the rear end of the hall and Femi’s head shot up. Deborah. How did she even find him here?
‘Debby? How on earth did you find me?’
She rolled her eyes at him and replied, ‘You might not have noticed anyone as you rushed down here, but a number of people noticed you.
‘Doctors rush all the time. How did you or they know I was coming here?’
She shrugged as she came to his pew and sat down beside him.
‘They didn’t know, but I did. Femi arched a brow at that and she laughed.
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‘One of the orderlies said you rushed out whilst muttering frantically under your breath. He said you both spoke a few minutes earlier and you had mentioned that you needed to take a quick break, so he was surprised to see you rushing out like that. Immediately, I guessed you must have been praying and since this is where I would come if I needed somewhere to unburden my spirit urgently, I chose to check here first.’
Femi pursed his lips and replied, ‘You know, I don’t know whether you’re smart or psychic.
Deborah threw him a smug smile and said, ‘While of course it goes without saying that I am smart, I think you are also very predictable.’
Femi chuckled and retorted, ‘You know you can’t claim smartness if truly I am predictable. It simply means anyone could have figured out what you figured out.’
She rolled her eyes at him and replied, ‘You just couldn’t let me win, could you?’
‘Well, since you’re asking nicely…’ Chuckling, he replied, letting his voice trail off. She threw her head back in laughter and he joined in.
When they had let out the last of their amusement, she announced, ‘I have news!’
‘Are you and Stan expecting a baby!?’ Femi exclaimed more than he asked as he jerked upright excitedly.
‘Wha- What!? Jeez! Oh my days! Are you a pregnancy monitor or what!?’ She asked laughing.
The excitement drained off his face and he sent her a sullen look, asking, ‘So, what’s news?’
Deborah held on to her tummy and laughed some more, then after a few seconds of laughing at both his current expression and his previous excitement, she replied, ‘Well, I heard from that my friend. The one who told me about the baby with the heart condition?’ Femi shot up again, this time very serious and expectant. They’d been praying about the baby with the suspected hole in the heart for the past few days and he was always bothering her for an update. She’d promised to let him know the moment she had one. Apparently she did now. He hoped this was good news. It had to be. She wouldn’t be this carefree if she had come bearing bad news
‘It was just a scare.’ Deborah said and Femi launched himself into the air, only hearing half of what Deborah said as she went on to tell him the baby’s real diagnosis.
‘Thank God! Wow! Double-double!’ He exclaimed as he held two fingers up to God on both hands.
Double-double, how? Did something happen? Deborah asked with curiosity evident on her face.
‘Abba, thank you!’ He said once as he began walking away. Deborah followed suit.
‘Talk now!’ She whined. ‘What do you mean by double-double?’
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Femi smiled as he increased his strides, ‘I just realised that you’re yet to answer my question. Answer mine and I will answer yours. Are you and Stan expecting a baby?’
Debby ran more than walk after him and whined as she struggled to catch up.
‘Answer me if you will joor! See how you’re making someone else’s wife run after you.’
Femi laughed as he stepped out of the hall, ‘I suppose you don’t want to know what double-double means then! Bye-bye, I’ve got to return to my duty post.’
‘Oooooohhhhh! Doc Damz!’ She whined again and Femi only laughed harder, enjoying her frustration way too much.
Glorryyyy! Whoa! Who’s with me on this shout of praise? REDEMPTION has become a reality in Skinny’s life!
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The Girl with the Winning Smile,