The Clarion Call by Eloyi Momoh

The Clarion Call by Eloyi Momoh

It was a beautiful and serene evening. The clouds were a mixture of blue,white,and grey. Flowers radiating their individual shine and the air as sweet and unpolluted as ever. This was rare to come by, especially in a beehive city such as Lagos. Lara decided to make good use of her time and take advantage of her surroundings. She stepped out alone for a quick stroll. She's had her head in her work since morning.The light from her laptop had begun to hurt her eyes.Thank Heavens Tami and Tope, her twin siblings were fast asleep, or else she wouldn't have heard the last of it if she didn't take them with her.
 
Going as far back as the beginning of the week,things had been blurry for her.Every situation seemed to usher in a new one like her troubles had no understanding of the "end of a rope".She was exhausted, and her patience was running thin.A crazy colleague at work was stepping on her nerves,and she was finding it really difficult to keep her cool together. Her thoughts wandered yet again, she was confident that she'd been saved and was a child of God, but her Father seemed far away.I twas like she had lost the ultimate connection, especially now that things weren't working for her. Besides her troublesome colleague, she has been making so many mistakes at work. She had been threatened to be laid off several times.She just couldn't get it. 'but I am a faithful church goer,I attend midweek services, special organized programs and even pay my tithes consistently' she thought.It didn't add up why things seemed to be falling apart, and to aggravate the already bad situation, Oche asked that they had a break to sort things out.She knew that was his subtle way of breaking up with her,like how Joseph in the new testament planned to repudiate Mary.Tears began to well up in her eyes. Oche was the kind of man you'll refer to as a Christian "Yoruba demon."He had it all together. I mean,look at that man when he's in the Spirit; it was indeed a spectacle. She remembered the first one-on-one conversation they had.A few hi and hellos had been thrown at each other because they fellowshipped at the same centre; Lord have Your Way Christian Assembly.

She was seated after service one faithful Sunday waiting for Laju.Her elder sister is so jovial and often greets the entire congregation. Laju, unlike her, was the super extrovert with an admirable personality; she had that charm on just anyone she met. Sitting, waiting,and scrolling on Instagram, she felt a presence around her like a shadow cast over the chairs in her space. She looked up to see a handsome young man taking a seat beside her. He smiled at her, she smiled back, and her heart did the flip. The most eligible and handsome bachelor in the church came all the way to talk to her; today definitely was made in heaven. "are you going to keep staring or you'll say something..."he had that smug smirk on his face which made her blush.
"'Mr. Oche, good afternoon'. That's how you start a conversation". He threw his head back and laughed, "you are something else." "I know" They spoke for a while, talking about the service that day, sharing what they learned,and a few random talks here and there before Laju showed up, and they bade each other goodbye. He wouldn't leave her alone after that until she agreed to at least do lunch with him.She kept him on his toes and begging.When she couldn't keep up with the pretense,she gave in, one thing led to another, and he said he was convinced God had led him to her, and he officially asked her out,and she agreed. Four months went and the same 'he' was requesting a break. Would you look at that! She heard the sound of fireflies and mosquitoes; looking up, she realized night had fallen upon her, she had to get going. Standing up from the little rock she had made into a chair,she turned and made her way back home.

Another week. Laju woke up to her alarm clock ringing in her ears. She was sure she had hit that snooze button up to five times "oh my God! 5:50am. I'm going to be late." She quickly jumped out of bed and hurried to the shower and to her closet, throwing on a simple black gown with multi-colored kimono and brown heels to match.She hurriedly did her makeup and fixed her hair. Skipping breakfast, she jumped into her small Toyota and made her way for the traffic.She could hear Laju and Mum call after her retreating back, but she was sure it would be series of questions she wasn't ready to answer. One more late day, and she might get suspended or even fired. She got to work at 8:05am.Getting off her car with her palms together and pointing towards heaven, she prayed her Boss wasn't yet at work or else who knows what's awaiting her. She worked as a marketer at a business firm, and her Boss was a pretty strict and unyielding man.Stepping into the office, she looked at the receptionist,who was just standing up after retrieving something from underneath her counter. "Lara,you're late again. Hurry up to your office; Mr. Shogo just got in".Mouthing a quick thank you,she dashed for her office,getting in and dropping her bags. Mr. Tim immediately walked in with his never smiling face, "Miss Lara, the boss is requesting your presence in his office." "wait,like right now? Did he say anything to you? How's his countenance?" She bombarded him with a million questions at once. He just looked and her and,saying "me,I don't know o just go yourself and find out,"walked out of her office. "Lara, keep it together, everything will be fine. You are a daughter of Zion you know now, nothing will happen.You're covered with the blood"she silently made effort to pacify her already troubled mind, rubbing her sweaty palms on her dress as she walked to the dreaded office. Knocking softly on the door, she heard a quick come in and opened the door. She stepped into the office and closed the door behind her. "Good morning sir." "Good morning? What is good about the morning ehn Lara tell me."her boss sharply retorted

"I'm sorry sir." "Oh please, keep your dirty sorry to yourself. You keep claiming you're a child of God and disturbing our peace in this office yet you cannot keep simple instructions. What time did you get here today?" "8:05 am sir." "Is that the time your work starts ehnn. Shey you are tired of this work?" "No sir" "No, you are because I have been warning you for the past weeks but you don't ever listen. Maybe if you're tired I can help you." "No sir, please, I'm not tired sir. I'm very sorry, today is the last day, it won't happen again please forgive me." the already visibly shaking Lara pleaded. "That's what you said last week and the week before and…should I go on?" "I'm sorry sir." She said, trying to convince him of her remorse.

"I know you are, and you'll be more after this one month or maybe two." "Sir …sir? "leave my office. You're suspended. Better go and think about your life this period because I cannot be having an incompetent staff in my office. Go! I said go." "Sir, please, I'm sorry have mercy on me please." "leave my office, ma'am." She retreated with tears in her eyes and exited the office.

She opened the door to the living room and walked in with a tear-stricken and gloomy face. Mum was home because she was retired. She didn't feel like talking to anyone, just a moment on her bed. Maybe after screaming and shouting, she will feel better, and God can probably tell her what she had done wrong because it all didn't make sense again. Climbing the stairway, she made her way to her room upstairs. "Lara, is that you?" her mom called out to her "Bẹẹnima", she replied in her native Yoruba dialect.

"why are you home early? No work today or is it a public holiday?"

"Rara ma, it's not. It's a long story. I need to rest, Jowo." “ Hope all is well my darling, Omọpe olesọ ohunkohun funmi”   
"Bẹẹni ma" with that, she entered her room and closed the door. Flopping on her bed, she couldn't keep the tears in anymore. She let them flow like the river, and with fits of sob, she cried her heart out, occasionally asking God what had gone wrong and where. She fell asleep and only woke up when Laju got home and came up to her room. Seeing her as a vegetable in bed, Lara had worry creases on her face. "Lara, what's going on? What happened? Why are you like this? Is it Oche?" The floods came again. "oh my baby, I'm really sorry." Remembering all that had happened today and then him, the tears could not be contained. I thurther that her sister would think things had really ended between them. Her heart wasn't ready for that yet. She replied, "No,it's not him. At least that's not the main worry at hand." Laju had a caring and loving man for a fiancé, and they were to tie the knots by the end of next month. She was happy for her sister. She really was.It was like all was going perfectly well for her sister and not to sound jealous, but things sure tasted sour in her mouth. "Lara, Lara, where have you wandered to… "her sister's words broke her out of her deep thoughts. Remembering what she really had on her mind, she started speaking, 
 
"I got suspended at work today. Laju tell me, what is it that I am not doing right. They always say the teacher is silent during the test but this one I'm getting questions that the topic wasn't even treated in class.It's like God has taken himself far away from me. Temitope is like a thorn in my flesh, mum wouldn't even let me breathe a day without talking about me getting a man in this house, Oche wants to call it quits and on my way home,that rickety stupid car broke down after one yeye man hit me from behind and sped off. Only me, all of this. Kinioj ẹnau?" "Relax,my dear, let's take it slowly, okay.You are not alone; God has not left you. In his word,He said that he will never leave you nor forsake you or have you forgotten so soon? That's in the book of Deuteronomy31:8,And He did promise that all these troubles will come and even more but be of good cheer He has overcome the world. I was praying this morning on my way to work, and you wouldn't leave my mind. The Holy Spirit kept bringing your name to me, and I started praying for you in the short time that I had and a bible verse dropped in my heart. Let me ask you this question -  How is your personal altar Lara, is it on fire or the flames are struggling to blink a wick? "My personal altar? I'm fine nau you of all people know I don't miss Sunday service and bible studies" "I know; I'm not talking about that. I mean your secret place, just you and God and your communication stance with him. How are you keeping your quiet time, personal Bible study and even your prayer life, are they upright or the fire has quenched? Lara looked confused. She prayed once in a while, hurriedly read her Bible sometimes, early in the morning. Usually, she would just open and wherever she landed, read a few verses and pray a quick 2 minutes' prayer before dashing to work but even at that she wasn't consistent. "Lara the bible says in Leviticus 6:12-13.   "Where is your Bible, please open it let's read together" Lara reached for the silver colored book on her night stand and turned the pages till she got to the place Laju asked for then she read, "The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it.13,the fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out." She put her bookmark there and looked at Laju who had begun speaking. "The book of Leviticus is one of instructions. God would usually single Moses sometimes with Aaron and give them instructions for the Israelites. These particular one had to do with the grain offering. He usually gave them particular instructions on every kind of offering, how and what warranted such. If you look at your bible again, you'll discover it said every morning the priest was to add firewood…. First off, it's a daily something and the best time of the day God saw fit was early in the morning. This means for you to be in constant communication and get instructions for each new day, you have to wake up early in the morning and commune with him before any other activity. If you claim you're his child and He your Father,you have to give Him that priority.
Lara, your personal altar is all about your walk with God. Attending services and bible studies just shows that you only obey one instruction. Hebrews 10:25 says' not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching' .That's what He expects of you but He also expects you keep your fire burning as He expected of the priests in the days of Moses. "I get it now; it could be that things are slowly crumbling because I haven't built my daily house on the rocky ground. My secret place is of paramount importance and mustn't be jeopardized". "Exactly my love, your secret place must be kept ablaze, your personal altar must be kept burning and shouldn't burn out because it's the anchor of your life to keep you especially when the storms of life come and the rains pour down heavily with thunder and lightning.Revive what you've almost lost and let your walk  with God like a garden receive tendering and nuture and rapt attention.Who knows, this period of your suspension has given you enough room to pursue, overtake and recover all". Lara gave her sister a warm and tight hug. She wondered what she would do without her. God had placed her like the personal pastor of her life,to love and care for like a shepherd does his sheep. "What will I do without you in this life?"She asked Laju, "Absolutely nothing"was her sister's reply. They both laughed. "When Daniel comes to take you finally from this house it will be thug of war between the both of us, maybe we will share you in half".Laju laughed "You are not serious, no matter what I will always be there for my baby sister and my family of course" "I love you walahi" "I love you back jare" Fits of laughter rolled from the both women's lips "let's pray" Laju said "of course." "In Jesus' name…" Lara woke up the next day at 4am. For the first time in weeks she felt a different peace, normally her mind and heart would have been on getting up to beat Lagos traffic, get to work and general bother about her day going smoothly but it was different today, she felt a calm and soothing peace. She went on her knees and started with a word of prayer. Recalling all that has been going on in the past few weeks, how her heart has been, and questioning God for all that had been going on, she pleaded for her life, crying out for help to represent God in the best way, for men to see Jesus in her that her life will radiate the very essence of her existence. She prayed and read her bible and prayed and sang and prayed and it was a beautiful morning. The same event as in the morning took place in the evening and it became her lifestyle and not just a routine. Day after day after day, till the days turned to weeks and weeks to months. She knew it wasn't by her strength or ability. A hand, an invisible one was over her life and helping her to be the very best version of herself.

It was the last day of the week, the morning songs were playing softly on the radio from her car, she parked at the lot and got down. She was adorned in a flay skirt and chiffon top to match with lovely stilettos and jewelry on her ears, neck and hand. She walked with heavenly gait as she stepped into her work place. Greetings from left and right were made to her as she made her way to the managing Director's office,that's right, her office. Things had turned around for the better once she learnt what the missing piece in her puzzle had been and how to find it. She was called back to work after her suspension and it was like her Boss had a change of heart. She knew the Spirit had gone ahead of her to make straight" the path" she'd walk on. Her attitude at work improved and even Temitope became nicer to her. She was promoted to a higher position with an official car, her Spirit felt lighter and she could sometimes literally feel the presence of God around her. It had been over a year and she was thankful for every day of it. She devoted Mondays and Thursdays to her personal fasting and found at least an hour each day to pray aside from the time spent during her morning and evening quiet time. Favour, Mercy and Grace had become her companions everywhere she went and all she put her hands to do. She was thankful to God for the jobless period because it increased her walk with God, brought her closer to him and also gave her enough space to help her sister plan for her nuptial knot tying. She opened the door to her office and settled in ready to start the days' work.

Sunday mornings always had that calm to it. Ikorodu was no different at all. On a good Sunday such as this,Lara couldn't wait to get to church. Like David in Psalm 122:1, she rejoiced with those who said to her,"Let us go to the house of the Lord. "She was dressed and taking some snaps with Tami and Tope while waiting for Mum. Her contact list was going to view her in all her glory and splendor as she posed another one with the intent to "pepper" their eyes. "Snap me alone first" Tope said trying to get a distance from them and the phone. "I'm coming hold still. Then you will take one with your sister and she'll snap alone too. oya" The 8-year-oldtwinswereatitagain,what they knew how to do best; disturb everyone in the house. "Jowoo we are going to be late. Jẹkial ọ".Mum said coming out in such haste with her heels and purse in hand trying to steady her gele. "Mummy, mummy, you're looking take away" Tami said She gave a wide smile and they all burst into laughter. Filing into the car as Lara drove to church. Celebration Sunday was heavenly,Lara danced her best,'the only difference between I and king David is that I didn't take off my clothes'. She thought to herself as a simple smile formed on her lips. Service just came to a close as the grace was shared and everyone went about greeting each other. She spotted Laju in her"anco"(dress to match) with her husband as she walked up to them with a smile on her face. They exchanged pleasantries, Daniel left the ladies to converse as he turned to greet another brother who was seeking his attention. The women continued in a talking spree when Laju stopped talking and looked directly at her. Lara knew she did that because of the presence of someone apparently behind her.She turned briskly to see Oche behind in his White senator and purple cap to match. He really looked good as always but she obviously wasn't going to say that. "Hi Ladies "he greeted.Laju in all her high spirits responded to his greetings and asked about his welfare. "I am doing very well and you?" "I am fine. My husband takes good care of me"Laju replied joyfully. "Of course, that's really obvious.Laracan I have a word please?" Before she got the chance to reply,one of the twins ran up to them shouting "sister Laju, sister Laju".Laju opened her arms and hugged the little girl. "how are you my sunshine?" "I am fine sister and Tope is doing well too.Sister Lara, Mummy is calling you both so we will do and be going home,I'm hungry already".Lara quickly turned to Oche and mouthed her apologies,took her sister and all three ladies headed out.

She had so many wild thoughts, this man had ignored her for so long a time, God had given her the heart to survive it, God was her first love after all.Anyone intending to take a space had to contend with Him for her heart. She had prayed and fasted about Oche, wanting to hear God for herself and know His plans for her concerning that aspect of her life. He spoke, yes; God did answer her and she was sure Oche was God's will for her. All that was left was for him to explain why he chose to suggest a break for the both of them.The church elders and marriage committee were all aware and what was left was to let them go into the period of courtship and training. On her way home he sent a text to her asking if he could call on phone at least for a simple conversation.'Man still had some manners in there'. She thought to herself.She got home and to her room to take off her Sunday apparel when his call came in.she picked on the fourth ring. "Hello… "Hello Lara, how are you doing?" "Doing well and you?happy Sunday" "Best wishes from this side. I'm fine thank you.It has been a while" "Yeah…" "I know you probably don't want to talk to me let alone see me but please it's important Can…can we like ehmm maybe see tomorrow? Please" "What for …"she knew she was harsh but then again she was angry. She had been angry for too long, she thought she had let it go but opening a wound that hadn't healed properly does this to you. "I have a lot to say to you please, trust me it will be worth your time" "It better be.Where and when?" "Thank you. how about lunch tomorrow, I'll come pick you up?" She could hear the excitement in his voice "Alright, that's fine by me" "Alright, thank you"   A few more was said over the phone and the conversation ended. Now, she looked forward to tomorrow to get answers to questions that had torn at her heart for a long time. They were seated and waiting for their order when he spoke up. "I am sorry Lara; I didn't intend to hurt you like this. At first, I was confused. I knew I heard God correctly about you but my Spirit wasn't letting me go ahead. I went to God in prayers to get better understanding and He reminded me first of how He has good plans for me…for us and wants the very best. He said He wanted to take me through a phase of learning to trust Him and the Process, it didn't add up but I knew all I had to do was trust in the end. He also said since He has promised me the very best, He was going to work on you that I should initiate the break, something about teaching you where the very source emanated from, to let God mould you to the perfect woman for my life and ministry. I really wanted to share this with you but I was restrained. After a few days of praying, I decided to do as He said because He knows better and He also knows the end from the beginning. I was and I am still very scared of losing you." Lara was already in tears; this God is too much. He loves those who are His and has the very best of plans at heart for them. All of this was just to teach her to keep her fire aflame for the days ahead required strength. God had thought her strength, dependence and complete trust in Him. This God is too much and He loves all infinitely. "Oche; I don't know what to say but this God is too much. I was going through so much last year then you asked we go on a break, I was sure I'd lost you,things weren't okay mentally,emotionally and even psychologically and I almost lost my job but all that happened helped me and brought me closer to God.My personal altar and secret place had become so cold I didn't realize an aspect of my life was suffering, I thought I was doing it all right.Faithful to church service and programs,Bible studies and all but my inner fire had died. God opened my eyes to what had been lost and used months to build me up. I learnt to return back to Him for every situation in my life and that included you.I really didn't hear God for myself the first time, I took to praying for you and us and God did not only answer me,He helped to understand that to love you it had to spring up from Him.I am grateful for every journey God has taken us both through and we are going to continually lay our home when He blesses us completely on Him." They both had tears in their eyes as they held hands to pray in public.Indeed the strength of a man's life and walk with God depends on keeping his fire ablaze, his secret place warm and cozy and his personal altar on fire continually.

Glossary/References 

All Bible scriptures taken from the New International Version.NIV

Yoruba words and meaning 

Omọ pe ole sọ ohunkohun funmi - You know you can tell me anything. 
Kini oj ẹ - What is it? 
Jẹ kia lọ - Let us go 
Bẹẹni---Yes 
Rara---No 
Wallahi (hausa origin)---To promise that something is true 
Jare---justified


 

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