I was washing my clothes at the back of the hostel when I heard some sisters from my fellowship talking about a brother.
His name is Joshua. I was in 400level when Joshua got admission into my school. We lived in the same area in Lagos and his mother had assigned me the duty of a guardian. I had to leave home before the resumption date to help him with the registration process.
It was such a relief to discover that I didn’t have to chase Joshua around or worry about bad peer influence. Joshua came to the university a vibrant Christian. For an eighteen-year-old boy, his maturity amazed me. He had been saved right from his early years in the secondary school and had been on fire for God ever since. When he joined us in NIFES, the campus fellowship I attended, he immediately became part of the prayer team.
What was this about him desperately pursuing a sister in the fellowship? I wondered as I walked towards the clothing line to spread my clothes. When the ladies saw me, they scurried away.
As I wrung out my clothes and hung it up to dry, I silently hoped this wasn’t about Lola.
A year after Joshua got into school, he told me God revealed to him that Lola was going to be his wife. He shared with me his convictions, the scriptures and his intention of letting her know how he felt. I’d told him to be patient and he hadn’t said anything about her since then.
The following day, as I approached the faculty of engineering, Lola ran towards me.
‘Sister Lizzy please wait.’ I stopped. Immediately, I sensed this had to do with Joshua. She stood in front of me, clearly upset.
‘Please, tell Bro Joshua to stop stalking me.’
I stared at her, shocked. Stalking! Has it gotten to that? ‘Are you sure of what you are saying?’
‘Yes! I’m tired. I have told him I am not interested in a relationship with him. What part of that does he not understand? I was reading in the faculty of social sciences, he showed up. I moved to pharmacy, he appeared. I went to education, the same thing. He hangs around my hostel, shouting my name every time I walk pass. Twice, my roommates told me he came looking for me. I just want him off my back!’
‘I didn’t know about this. I’m so sorry. I’ll talk to him.’
When Joshua showed up in my room that evening, I lashed out at him.
‘How can you be following Lola around? What’s that nonsense?’
‘But I heard God. I knew what God said to me.’
‘You didn’t hear God! You are just obsessed about her. Your mind is deceiving you. This is not how God works. She said she is not interested. Let her go. You even follow her to her night classes, Joshua. It’s irritating. For goodness sake, what is wrong with you?’
Joshua sat on my bed with his head bowed. I thought I had talked sense into his head. What I didn’t know was that my words were as if I had placed a basket under a running tap.
At the beginning of my final semester, I had an appointment with the vice president of my fellowship, a petite lady we refer to as Mama, concerning the forth coming cultural Sunday. She wanted me to bake the cake for the event and had planned for us to meet to discuss on the cost involved.
As I approached the fellowship secretariat, I saw a white Ford parked in the compound. Some of the fellowship members were hanging around and I was wondering what was going on.
When I tried to open the door, it was locked. I heard loud voices inside. I knocked. The treasurer opened the door and allowed me in.
Right there in the center of the room, Joshua was on his knees. A woman who bore a striking resemblance to Lola stood close to a pot-bellied man. Lola stood at a corner, staring at the floor. There was a police officer in front of Joshua.
‘Stand up. We are going to the police station.’ The policeman said, his hands firmly by his side.
Mama went on her knee, pleading with the police officer. I joined her. Soon, the fellowship excos were pleading with Lola’s parents. Joshua remained on his knees, tears running down his face.
‘Why will a responsible young man be following my daughter up and down like a dog.’ Lola’s father barked.
Lola’s mother clapped her hand. ‘Lola is our only child. We will not take this nonsense!’
The fellowship president stood in front of Lola’s father. ‘Please sir, Have mercy on him. They are both members of this fellowship and we are assuring you that this will not happen again.’
Lola moved close to her father and wrapped her hand around his waist. He glanced down at her and you could easily tell that he adored her.
‘Dad, please let him go.’
He turned his gaze to Joshua. ‘If I hear that you come close to my daughter again, you will regret that you were ever born.’
Outside a small crowd had gathered. Most of them were the fellowship members. They talked in whispers, watching Lola’s parents leave the secretariat.
Joshua was in my room that evening. He looked so beaten as he lay quietly on my bed. He didn’t eat the food I made even though it was his favourite. Later that night, he returned to his room.
When we got to the gate of his hostel, I tried to cheer him up.
‘You’ll be fine.’ I whispered.
For some weeks, Joshua’s story trended in the fellowship but soon everybody forgot about the incident.
After my defence, I got ready to say farewell to my undergraduate life. Joshua was in my room the eve of my departure, as I packed my belongings into my big box.
‘Yesterday, during my devotion, that incident with Lola flashed back and I had to ask myself, how did I get that far? What I did was horrible.’ Joshua said as he rolled my mattress and tied it with a rope.
‘I’m glad you learnt your lesson. That fear of losing what we so desperately desire can cause us great embarrassment. The best is to trust God to bring our desires to fulfilment.’
‘I sent her an apology letter. She responded. She said she was sorry for embarrassing me. I wanted to reply and let her know that it was all my fault. But I felt going back and forth with letters will just resurrect the old feelings.’
I smiled. ‘God will lead you to the right person.’
‘Big sis, marriage is the last thing on my mind now. My focus is to grow in my relationship with God and develop myself. Did I tell you I registered for a programming course?’
‘Really? That’s very cool.’
He smiled. ‘Yeah. I want to build my tech career and just get a life. I’m not sure I want to think of a relationship for a long time. Maybe I won’t even marry.’
That was nine years ago. Yesterday evening, I delivered a cake to one of my distant cousins whose mother-in-law was to clock 60 in about a week . When I entered her house with the cake, Joshua was sitting on the sofa in a white t-shirt and jean. I almost didn’t recognize him because of his afro and the beards that lined his jaw.
‘Joshua!’ I screamed in excitement. We hugged. We had lost touch since my parents moved from Lagos to Osogbo and I travelled out for my Master’s degree.
My cousin just stood there, watching us.
‘Sis Lizzy, I have missed you. Look at how fresh you are. So you reside here in Abuja?’ Joshua asked.
‘Yeah. My husband was transferred here few months ago. Joshua, You just forgot about me ehn.’
Joshua chuckled. ‘I’ve been trying to reach you. I’m so sorry.’
‘Are you based here too?’
He shook his head. ‘No, my fiancée lives here.’
It was then I noticed an elegant lady sitting beside him. I froze.
The lady smiled and rushed to my side. Memories of the incident at the secretariat returned and I couldn’t hold back the laughter. I stared long at her and looked at Joshua.
‘I can’t believe this!’
‘We are getting married in two months.’ Joshua said.
My mouth opened. ‘Wow.’
Lola held Joshua’s hand. ‘Yes ma’am. And you are invited to our wedding.’ She reached into her bag and brought out a wedding card.
‘How did this happen?’
Joshua narrated how he had met Lola at the NYSC orientation camp. He was standing on the queue for registration when she called his name. He’d been shocked to see her.
‘The experience at the secretariat was still fresh in my mind. I just said hi and looked straight ahead.’
Lola rolled her eyes playfully at him. ‘I felt hurt when he reacted that way. He avoided me throughout the orientation camp. I was really upset.’
Joshua turned to Lola. ‘Remember the day we met at the mammy market, I was eating when you brought your food and sat beside me.’
‘You wouldn’t even look at me and you answered me in monotones. I cried that night.’
I smiled, sitting down curious. ‘Were you already having feelings for him?’
Lola nodded. ‘I started having those feelings towards the end of 300 level, but I knew there was no way Joshua would ever talk to me. When I saw him at the orientation camp, I felt God wanted to give us a fresh start. But Joshua didn’t give me the chance.’
I chuckled. ‘You can’t blame him.’
Joshua leaned forward. ‘When we ended up in the NCCF family house, I knew there was no way I could avoid her anymore. I saw her every day. During the morning devotion, at the bible study, in the kitchen, on my way to my p.p.a. We just kept bumping into each other.’
‘He was the reason I left the family house for my own apartment. My pillow can testify to those wet nights. When he kept ignoring me, I pleaded with God to take the feelings away but he was so stuck in my heart and I was frustrated. I tried getting into another relationship just to distract myself but I was out in a couple of weeks. It was worse because I kept seeing him at the family house when we had our meetings.’
Joshua squeezed her hand and smiled. ‘I can’t even remember how we became friends.’
Lola laughed. ‘I can’t forget. Rural rugged. We sat beside each other on our way to Gangara. We talked about the incident.’
‘Yes I remember!’ Joshua exclaimed.
My cousin clapped her hand. ‘This is interesting. Lola, you didn’t gist me your love story like this o.’
Lola giggled. ‘The day I introduced Joshua to my parents, I was so scared. But they didn’t even recognize him. With his muscles and beards, he’d changed. Mum loved him the moment she set her eyes on him. It was long into the preparation for the wedding that I reminded then of that incident. My parents were shocked at first and then they laughed about it.’
Joshua looked into Lola’s eyes. ‘She is the best thing that ever happened to me.’
Lola covered her face with her hands. ‘I’m blushing.’
I stared at these beautiful souls, mesmerized. I stood up to leave. It was almost time to pick up my kids. As I drove out, I thought of how beautiful life would turn out if we run with God’s plan only as he gives us instructions per time.
This fictional piece came to my heart while I was reading the story of Moses. Long before that man became the deliverer of Israel, he had a glimpse of what he was going to do. He’d loved his people and wanted to get them out of the oppression of the Egyptians. He didn’t care about the pleasures of the palace, he just wanted to be with his people. But he jumped out too fast.
…Many years later, when Moses had grown up, he went out to visit his own people, the Hebrews and he saw how hard they were forced to work. During his visit, he saw an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Hebrews. After looking in all directions to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid the body in the sand. Exodus 2:11,12. NLT.
He killed the Egyptian. That was his way of fulfilling the longing of his heart: The deliverance of his people. But not God’s way.
..And sure enough, Pharaoh heard what had happened and he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in the land of Midian. Exodus 2:15 NLT
For another forty years he was away from what seem to be God’s ultimate purpose for his life. But at the right time, God showed up.
In this generation, we want to get everything that pops into our heart now. We get a vision and immediately run with it without finding out if it’s the right timing for the fulfilment of that vision.
We are not ready to go through the process required to actualize our dreams. We just want results now. That God showed you something about your future today is not enough for you to jump out immediately. We must learn to wait and find out further instructions.
God loves us dearly. Sometimes, he deliberately permits certain obstacles not because he cannot drop the longings of our heart right unto our laps but to get us to seek and trust him.
Some will only get to learn trust and patience through hard encounters. But do we have to go round the wilderness before understanding how important God wants us to rest in him?
One of the greatest lessons I’m learning this year is patience. I want to be able to take steps only as he directs me. I do not want to take any step without his leading.
I am also learning that this virtue, patience, is born out of an unwavering faith in God’s love expressed through his promises.
Even if you’ve received an instruction or revelation concerning a person or a picture of your future, it’s best to seek God per time for instructions on what to do. Sometimes you may discover that what you heard was the voice of your mind. Time and resting in God proves whatever you have received.
Our confidence is in the fact that when we trust God with our lives, he’ll guide us in the best path of life.
I sincerely hope we allow the Holy Spirit work out patience in us, such that we are determined never to make any move outside of God’s instruction.