Read Episode 1 here
Three days later, Josiah ran into Olanna at the bank. One look at her and an overwhelming love and empathy flooded his heart. She was smallish but gorgeous, and she walked with her nose in the air.
“Olanna!” he called, smiling.
She turned to look at him. “Josiah.” Her voice was cool.
“How are you doing?”
“I’m fine, thank you.” There was a questioning look on her face.
“If you don’t mind, I would like to have a word with you please.”
Her eyes narrowed in suspicion. “You saw it?”
Josiah tried to feign ignorance but one look at her cold eyes and he admitted the truth.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” she dismissed.
“Please. Spare me just two minutes,” Josiah appealed.
“I said no. So what? You want to tell me how damned I am right? You want to heap blames on me, right? You want to advice on how keeping the baby would be the best thing that would ever happen to me, isn’t it?” Her temper was rising, and Josiah could see it.
“Calm down, Olanna. I’m not here to tell you any of that. I just want to talk to you like a friend and brother.”
“Well, you’re not my brother, neither are you my friend. And next time, learn not to poke your nose into other people’s businesses. It’s disgusting.” She hissed and sauntered off, leaving an embarrassed Josiah standing in the hallway. He had not set his eyes on her again since that day.
“How can she be dead?” Josiah asked with trembling voice. Matthew didn’t utter a word.
“Matthew, talk to me! Did she have an abortion?”
A tear slid down Matthew’s cheek. “She kept the pregnancy, against my wishes. I wish she didn’t.” The memory was like bitter pill to Matthew.
“Did she die at childbirth?”
“No. She had an ectopic pregnancy. Her fallopian tube ruptured and she started bleeding. She died before the doctor could perform an emergency surgery on her.”
“Oh my God!” Josiah exclaimed. He stood on his feet and began to pace round the room.
“Her parents were inconsolable. I was so guilt struck that I couldn’t attend her burial. She was twenty-one. Just twenty-one. I killed her. I snatched her life in its prime.” He was crying silently now.
Josh, I’ve carried this guilt for years. Even after accepting Jesus into my life, the guilt did not go away. I see her in my dreams. I see the baby in my dreams. I am a murderer. A bloody one.”
“Shhhhhhhhh” Josiah cooed. He came to Matthew’s side and squatted, placing one hand on his shoulder.
“You are not a murderer. Whatever you did, you did in ignorance. It is very sad that Olanna died in the process, and I sincerely hope she accepted Jesus before she passed on.”
Matthew sniffed out loud.
“Look, 1 Corinthians 5:17 says, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away and all things have become new.”
Matthew looked up at Josiah. The Scripture was all so familiar to him. It was the scripture that Turaka, the fellowship president had recited to him again and again during his national youth service days, when he just repented. At first, he couldn’t accept the reality of the scripture. It was humanly impossible for old things to pass away, just like that.
On many nights, he would crouch by the tree in the lodge built for corps members, shedding bitter tears. He wished Olanna didn’t die. He felt he pushed her to her untimely death, as he never wanted the baby in the first place. She did not tell her family that he was responsible for the pregnancy and he was grateful for that, even though the guilt ate him up. Unconsciously, he awaited severe consequences for his mistakes.
When he lost an opportunity to travel abroad on a scholarship for no apparent reason, he counted it as part of his punishment. When his father was diagnosed of kidney failure, three months to the end of his service year, he termed it a retribution well deserved. After all, he killed someone’s daughter too. The constant encouragements and reassurances from Turaka did nothing to ease the weight of guilt that he bore.
“What God no longer holds against you, don’t hold it against yourself,” he had said one day when he noticed Matthew sitting by the tree, lost in deep thought.
Matthew frowned slightly. “How do I let go, Turaka? I’ve tried but it seems impossible.”
“You cannot let go if you have not yet accepted the fact that God has let go.” He sat beside Matthew.
“Matthew, you are carrying the burden of guilt on your shoulders. You consider every negative thing that happens to you as the punishment for your sins. What you have failed to accept is that, the moment you confessed your sins and repented, God forgave you. You see, God is not a man that keeps a score of wrongs. Once he forgives, he forgives and forgets.”
Matthew shifted on his seat. There were beads of sweat on his forehead, which was not unusual. The sun was out in its full glory.
“Turaka, I want to ask you a question.”
“Go ahead,” Turaka answered, bending down to write on the soil.
“How is it possible for God not to remember my sins anymore? When he sees me, doesn’t He see a former murderer? An ex-fornicator? A former liar?”
Turaka raised his head. “Look at the soil.”
Matthew looked down at the soil. Whatever it was that Turaka wrote on it, he had wiped it clean.
“Read what I wrote down,” Turaka said.
“I can’t see anything.”
“You’ve wiped it clean of course. There’s nothing there.”
“Look closely. Maybe you’ll recognize an alphabet or a number.”
Matthew scrutinized the soil. There was no trace of anything.
“Turaka I can’t see anything. The soil is clean.”
“So are you, Matthew. This is how God sees you. Clean and purified. Forgiven and restored. No matter how hard he looks, He cannot find your forgiven sins because just as far as the East is from the West, so has He removed your sins from you.”
Matthew’s eyes lit up in understanding. “It makes sense to me now!”
Turaka smiled. “It is only the devil that reminds you of past sins so as to hinder you from accepting the mercy of God and to stop you from walking in dimensions of God’s grace. Remember what the Bible calls him?”
“The accuser of the brethren.”
“Exactly. He will keep accusing you with what God has forgotten about, unless you stand up to him and rebuke his accusations.”
“How do I do that?”
“The Word of God is your weapon. Rebuke the devil with the word, and he will flee. Let me tell you a secret,” Turaka said, wiping sweat off his forehead with the back of his palm.
“The devil is afraid of any Christian who knows the Word. He is scared of any Christian who can exercise his right, standing on the authority of God’s word.”
“Really?” Matthew was just hearing this for the first time.
“Yes. That is why it is important to study the Word so as to understand the privileges you have in Christ Jesus.”
That conversation helped in dispelling Matthew’s guilt, as well as strengthening His Christian journey. Then he met Ife.
“Matthew” Josiah called, bringing him back to the present.
‘I can hear you,” he responded. His voice was weak.
“Listen to me,” Josiah said firmly. “What happened in the past, remains past. Jesus has given you a new life so live it to the fullest.”
Mathew nodded. It was already past 7 am.
“Josh, you need to concentrate on your books now. I’m really sorry for taking so much of your study time.” He stood up from the floor and stretched.
Josiah grinned. “What are friends for?”
Matthew picked up the empty bottle of water and headed for the kitchen. He needed to prepare for work as well.
Thanks for reading. Episode 3 comes up next!