“Never mind the ratio, sometimes the events capable of making us doubt God’s existence tend to weigh more heavily on us than the events which affirm same” – Ifeanyi Jerry Chiemeke, 2014.
Mood Tracks for this Piece:
“These Things Take Time” – Sanctus Real
“You Found Me” – The Fray
“Leaving Eden” – Brandon Heath
Heavenly Father, Lord of all, The Landlord, He Who Runs Things, The Maker, The One Who Dotes On Me Despite My Stubbornness, I raise my hands (metaphorically) and say Good Day. I won’t ascribe morning, noon or night, Lord, because You exist in a state where none of these things matter to you. It’s your not-so-obedient son, Ifeanyi, again (though I can’t remember the last time I really did this). Thank You for all your love which knows no end, and thank You for not choosing to measure my blessings on a scale of my good deeds, because if that were to be the case I would get less than nothing. Above all, thank You for the oxygen, the saliva and the other things I tend to take for granted, including the opportunity to write out these things.
Dear Lord, pardon me for the times I simply jump out of bed and prepare for the day’s hustle without so much as a whisper to acknowledge you. Do not hold it against me when it’s Sunday and I fail to assemble with the rest of the faithful, though I like to think that it’s not about that temporal structure where we jostle for seats, but about how our hearts assemble unto You. Forgive, Lord, for the times I hypnotize Lola with my sleepy eyes and make her ‘sin’ against her boyfriend, though I am not quite sure whether You approve of her having a boyfriend, especially when marriage is nowhere near contemplation. There are also those nights when the weather causes me to chat Becky up and say things I don’t mean over the phone; in Your mercy, overlook those too.
Dad, I come before you this hour because there is a lot I need help with, a lot I need to clarify, a lot I need to know in the first place, not to forget the things of which my convictions are no longer as firm. Lord help me out in this place where opinions are easier to swallow than fact, where it’s easier to believe The Times than the Good Book, where agnostic is the new definition of cool. I need your help in a place where sports betting is legal but footballers can no longer write “I Love Jesus” on their inner vests, where the U.S schoolteacher hides her Bible to keep her job, the same Bible which once played a huge part in that nation’s constitution.
Lord, help me understand better the concept of “white lies”, particularly as to how much you smile at such. I’d also want to know why I can no longer give a definite “no” when that new convert asks me if he can kiss and cuddle the girl he thinks he loves, though I find it hard to understand how relationships thrive without such physical contact, damn, contact is a major love language(as that book said)! Should that passage in the book of Malachi be (conversely) taken to mean that we are automatically at the mercy of the Devourer when we don’t pay those tithes? Yea, those tithes whose destination we get forced to doubt these days, considering the modern lifestyle of many of your servants. Heck, many Sunday services take the shape of fund-raising events these days, with pep talks and motivational speeches in the name of sermons.
Landlord of the Solar System, was it 66 books you inspired, or were they actually 73? Are beads more effective than multiple tongues? Are those multiple intercessions they ask for in Rome not just plain unnecessary? Who can say for sure whether that old white man in Rome (I don’t see a black bum ever gracing that chair) is even a true friend of yours? It’s not like people have forgotten the Inquisition and all that. Tell me Dad, can’t we have Don Moen and Rihanna on the same music playlist, after all it’s what comes out and not what goes in that makes us unclean, right? And I hope You don’t have a problem with me gulping a few bottles, hey, Your Son wouldn’t have been called “glutton and drunkard” (Matthew 11:19) if he had completely stayed away from alcohol. I also need to learn how to crack jokes without offending You, since we’ll have to account for every idle word we utter. Err, and is it ok to twerk so long as it’s in your Name? Do we get to have fun at all when we follow You, inasmuch as You don’t use that word anywhere in the Bible, not approvingly at least?
Father, is it even possible to express emotions without wanting to swim in a sea of bed sheets? How about when I get married, can’t I go beyond the purpose of procreation and be a little bit experimental, especially if Mrs. Chiemeke wants to “go down south with that mouth”? How about when I’m really lonely and get tempted to reach out to the bar of soap? Yes Lord, these things are not so clear anymore, some who gather in Your Name even encourage “soap patronage” as a positive expression of libido. Hebrews 11:4, 1st Thessalonians 4:3 and Galatians 5:19-21 appear to be mere semantics these days, I’m afraid.
Lord, arm me with an understanding of You which I can handle, not the type that requires a pastor to take a female chorister to a hotel room so he could teach her “a level of grace that she doesn’t understand”. I’d also need help with the issue of rib-hunting. Do I wait for a thunderous voice from the sky telling me who she is, or do I just FIND (since Proverbs talks about “He who finds”)? King of glory, help me with this concept of grace too, so I don’t go mentally screaming “Grace things!”, when I glide down Jane’s fountain with the same tongue I used in receiving Communion hours earlier. Then again, do we always have to explicitly refer to Your Name in our art? Do we stick to the conventional worship rhythm like Hillsong, do we try to spice it up like Jesus Culture, or do we adopt a different approach altogether and try to reach a secular audience, like Switchfoot and The Fray prefer to do?
I know you convinced Job that none can question You, but by virtue of the victory on the cross, we are now joint heirs with your Son, and I’d like to think that a child can ask His Father some questions: Why did You let that catarrh become so deadly? Why let the boy go like that? I know You can tell the end from the beginning, but couldn’t You have ordered events so Caesar Ekeoba become an instrument of your glory in later decades? Why give him such gifts as you did, such noble attributes, then snatch him away like that? Why so soon? Why? Why?? TELL ME! Help me, Lord to make sense out of it! There is also the explanation I need for Ikponwosa, the one who just had to go less than two months after his graduation. One less accountant in Nigeria, thanks to a brief illness. I like how they explain it, “brief illness”, as if it makes things less confusing. You have to give it to doctors though, they have a way of explaining everything. “Alleric rhinosinusitis with intracerebral abscesses” was the finding as to why Caesar is now referred to in past tense. DO I HAVE TO GET ON THE OTHER SIDE BEFORE I GET AN EXPLANATION FROM YOU? (Talk about dying for an answer). It’s not like pain is novel to these climes anyway; people in my country live in fear on a daily basis, the citizens are pawns on a political chessboard, and to be frank, our throats are sore from unanswered prayers for peace.
Dad, don’t get mad at my approach, I just need to understand, to know, to regain touch with things. I choose to come before You like one still feeding on milk, and I hope we both get to sit together up there and laugh over these questions one day. Until then, Lord just keep me where the Light is, never mind how long. Help me see that everything in this meaninglessly overrated world of ours is borrowed, including the oxygen leisurely taken in by our lungs. Help us understand that our lives are like candles slowly burning out, and since that be the case, that our aim should be to light up as many hearts and possible while we yet can. I intend this to be a conversation and not a monologue, so I ask you Father, let the ears of my heart be open to hear Thee, or even my physical ears if possible, whether it be a thunderclap or a still small voice. And one more thing Lord, please, heal our land!
(R.I.P Caesar Austus Odion Ekeoba…..wherever you are, be sure that we are proud of you over here. Rest easy too, Ikponwosa, may lights guide you home.)
– From the kind of heart you’d expect to see behind a pair of teary eyes, 11th May 2014.