It was nearly 6am, the early morning drizzle mixed with her tears as she walked briskly to the bus stop to catch the bus to work. Why today of all days? Monday mornings in the city of Lagos is known for its horrible traffic, this rain would only make it worse. She looked at her wristwatch again, 10 to 6, she was cutting it really fine but nothing she could do to walk faster, her ankle pain seemed to be getting worse. Her mind went to David, he was such a calm young man before they got married. But he lost his job a few months after the wedding and for some bizarre reason took to drinking as an escape route. Drinking led to beatings and even now she felt that sharp pain again in her ankle that started after she tripped and fell while trying to escape him last night. All she needed was to get on that bus and rest the leg, the swelling would have gone down by afternoon.
Rukky was grateful for a free seat on the bus. In a few minutes, she felt the relief of her ankle but this was quickly replaced by some lunatic preaching with a loud voice from the back of the bus about freedom in Christ Jesus. She closed her eyes and tried to block his voice out, what she needed was to be free from any noise this morning.
“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” The voice was calm and soothing but at the same time penetrating. Rukky opened her eyes and looked around, the bus was quiet -even the conductor was dozing. She looked at her wristwatch in surprise, was she that exhausted? It was a few minutes past 7am! She had slept for nearly an hour, the down side was that she hadn’t reviewed her proposal that was due at 8am but the upside was that she had escaped the ordeal of the early morning preacher. Rukky quickly opened up her folder for a quick check. She had read and re-read several times but still had the need to check again. The approval of this proposal by the partners was the break she needed. It would change her career path and move her from the boring back office into the branding team.
She gathered her things and got off at her bus stop, the 5 minute walk took twice the time, each step was more painful than the next, she was wise enough to have worn a pair of flat shoes today. She managed to get to the office and went straight to the CEO’s office to drop off her proposal. Nkiru was at her desk and as usual had a bright smile as she greeted every one that came in the door or passed by her door. She was always like that…smiling from Monday to Friday; Rukky secretly admired her but their paths rarely crossed. Nkiru welcomed her warmly and gave her a form to fill for the proposal (she guessed correctly that it was the proposal that brought Rukky into her office early on a Monday morning). Rukky felt Nkiru watching her intently, she continued writing pretending not to notice that Nkiru had moved from her desk and was standing a few steps from her.
“Oh my Lord, you have to sit down” Nkiru said in a concerned voice. “Your ankle looks really bad, why didn’t you ask to sit and fill the form” As she was ushered to a seat she looked down and saw that her ankle was even more enlarged and reddened since the last time she looked. Her light skin tone didn’t help matters at all, it looked really bad. Nkiru took her bags from her and settled her into the chair “now finish that form so that I can collect your proposal and get you to the clinic”. It wasn’t difficult to comply, Rukky completed the rest of the form quickly and handed it over to Nkiru. Task completed she started to gather her bags to stand up. Nkiru gave her an icy look over her glasses “madam, where do you think you are going??. You will sit down there until I can get a driver to take you to the clinic.” ” don’t give me any excuse about reporting for work because I’ve already called your supervisor and manager ” Rukky groaned inside, the last thing she needed was everyone minding her business for her, but the look from Nkiru made her stay in the chair.
It was nearly 11am when the last set of results came back. She had fractured her fibula and needed to stay off her feet for a few days. That was the good news, the bad news was that her blood pressure was elevated and the doctor wanted to keep her overnight to run a few other tests. She was advised to call her husband to bring a few items for her. She started to cry. Why her? Why now? David’s eyes won’t be clear till about 3pm and then he would have a few hours of sanity before he returned to the bottle. Calling will be a waste of time so she sent an SMS instead “I have been admitted in hospital, I will need you to bring over a few things. Please call when you can”. They said the drugs would make her drowsy, but there was too much on her mind. She looked around the observation room and picked up a random magazine, the headline caught her attention ‘Freedom from the Shackles of debt’, she flipped through the magazine to the pages discussing how the western world is dependent on credit, people moving from one credit option to another, one credit card to the other getting deeper and deeper in their debt when all they needed was self discipline. She wondered if the term total freedom was possible. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” She looked up startled, it was the same voice she heard in the bus, but this time she was the only one in the room. The hair at the back of her neck was standing and her heart raced a bit, was she finally going crazy? She put the magazine aside and allowed herself drift to sleep.
Rukky opened her eyes slowly and tried to figure out where she was, she took in the hospital room looked to the left and saw someone in the chair with head bowed as if praying. She closed her eyes again and tried to shake off the sleep. She looked again at the chair and saw Nkiru smiling at her. Nkiru walked toward her with her usual wide smile “I’m so glad you are awake, I was wondering if you would awake before I have to leave”.
“What are you doing here? What time is it?. Where am I?. Nkiru gave her a fake icy look “which question do you want me to answer first?”
It turned out that it was already 7pm Nkiru had called the hospital to find out how she was, only to be told that no one else had called or brought anything for her. She had taken the liberty to get the number of Rukky’s husband from HR but the number just kept ringing, so she decided to stop at the market after work to pick up a few personal items for Rukky and to pray with her before going home.
Nkiru held out her hands to Rukky and asked if she could pray with her. It was strange to Rukky, no one had ever shown so much concern about her for a long time, she fought back the tears as Nkiru said a simple prayer “ Dear Lord, your word says that who the son makes free is free indeed, I ask that you release your daughter from every form of physical and spiritual oppression in Jesus name. Let her be free to walk again, to dance again, to go home. In Jesus name, Amen”. It was too much too bear and Rukky broke down in tears, all the bottled up pain and anger came to the surface uncontrollably…freedom…why has that simple word been chasing her all day. She took the tissue that Nkiru quietly passed to her and blew her nose. ‘Freedom’ that voice again!, she looked at Nkiru who was now seating down watching her with sincere concern. All she needed was a little push and she would talk, say everything that she kept inside that no one understood. Nkiru moved the chair to her bed side, held her hands and asked her if she was feeling better. Rukky nodded her head like a baby “would you like to talk about anything?”. Would she?? Rukky nodded again and opened her mouth at the same time, she just started talking and couldn’t stop..how she met David, how they got married, how he lost his job, the drinking the beating, the hiding the issues from family because he was the perfect son, the financial trauma, the oppression at home because nothing she said or did was right, she even talked about the strange voice she had been hearing all day, how she was sure David wouldn’t read her text and probably wouldn’t know she is missing till probably tomorrow morning. Nkiru held her hand quietly until she had run out of words. Eventually the words finished and they sat together in comfortable silence, Rukky couldn’t believe she just unburdened to this lady.
Nkiru asked her if she was a Christian, well, technically yes, she grew up a Christian, married in the church but really she couldn’t remember when last she went to church except for a wedding or thanksgiving. Nkiru reached for her bag and brought out a small bible, she opened to the book of John 8 vs 32-36 and gave it to Rukky to read out loud. With each word she read, her eyes opened wider and wider. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed”.
Incredible!, the voice was from the Bible? But why today?, why did that voice keep on speaking this verse to her. Nkiru explained to her that the Holy Spirit resides in each of us and speaks to us all the time. But we seldom hear or listen because of the challenges of life that drown the voice. Nkiru spoke to her about the redeeming love of God through Christ Jesus, she read out John 10:10 “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”. She opened Mathew 11:28 and explained to Rukky that there was no load to heavy for Jesus to carry on our behalf and encouraged her to let down her load and allow Jesus take control. She told Rukky that the Holy spirit had been preparing her to let go of the excess baggage, God had ordained today for a special purpose and she handed back the bible to Rukky to read from 2 Corinthians 6:2 “now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation”
The two ladies looked at each other as an understanding dawned over Rukky. She closed her eyes and allowed herself to go back in time, indeed she had heard that voice before but always pushed it aside. Nkiru said it was the Holy Spirit, today it was too clear, like the Holy Spirit had known that she would need encouragement today. “Today”. Nkiru held both her hands and asked if she wanted to accept Jesus into her life as her personal friend and saviour. She sniffed and nodded again. She needed the freedom that Jesus was offering; she needed to be a sheep following the leading of the master shepherd. She prayed along with Nkiru. The voice came again, but this time she wasn’t alarmed “Trust me”.
Nkiru asked for a few minutes to make a call, she needed to call home and explain that she was running late. As she looked for her phone in her bag, her eyes lit up in mischief “I nearly forgot that I brought a surprise for you”. She handed a sealed letter to Rukky as she stepped out to make her call. It was an official letter, Rukky opened it carefully and saw that her proposal had been accepted. “I told you to trust me”. She let out a shout of Joy that sent the nurse and Nkiru running back into the room. God had sent her a sign. After she convinced the nurse that she was fine, Nkiru helped her freshen up and change into a fresh set of clothes for the night, they didn’t fit well but under the circumstances they were perfect. Nkiru spent another hour with her and they just talked about everything, faith, David, work. Nkiru said the CEO wanted to see her that afternoon but no one knew where she was and her phone was switched off, they had nearly withdrawn the letter when Nkiru recognized the name of the supervisor as the one she had spoken to earlier that morning regarding the lady with the swollen leg. She informed the management team that the owner of the winning proposal was not a truant but was in hospital. If it had not been for the swollen leg, she may not have made the connection and the offer may have been lost. She encouraged Rukky to hold on to Christ, He makes all things beautiful in His time and David’s situation will be made beautiful eventually.
It was nearly 10pm before Nkiru went home. She left behind her bible and a long list of scriptures for Rukky to study. She also took Rukky’s number and promised to call early in the morning. As the door closed behind her, Rukky thanked God for her two new friends, Nkiru and the Holy Spirit. “Trust me”. I will, she said out aloud as she drifted off to sleep.
John 10:9-11 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
2 Cortinthians 6:2 For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
6 June 2014