By Fr. Pat Chukwuma Amobi
Abraham was a faithful worshiper of the Almighty God. God commanded him to leave his country home to another place. Abraham obeyed without reserve. Unfortunately, Abraham and his wife Sarah were childless and they were advanced in age. At that time Sarah has entered her menopause, yet God promised them that their children would be as many as the stars in the sky. They trusted in the word of God and on his omnipotence. At the fullness of time, Abraham knew his wife and she conceived and bore an only son, Isaac. Isaac was handsome and grew to maturity.
As a proof of faithfulness God tested Abraham, saying, “Take your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I shall point out to you” (Gen. 22:2). Without doubt, Abraham gathered some wood for the burnt offering which he laid on his son Isaac. He took a knife and saddled his donkey for the journey. Two of his servants accompanied him with Isaac his son. Off they went to the place as God directed. On the way, Isaac was wondering. He turned and called, “Father!” Abraham replied, “Yes, my son?” Isaac said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?” Abraham answered, “God will provide” (Gen. 22:7 – 8). Hopefully they reached the place for the sacrifice. Abraham bound his son Isaac hand and feet and laid him on the wood on the altar of sacrifice. He stretched his hand with the knife to slay his only son in obedience to God. At this moment an Angel of God called to Abraham from heaven saying, “Abraham! Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” Do not lay your hand on the boy; do not harm him, for now I know that you fear God, and you have not held back from me your only son.” (Gen. 22:11 – 12). Instantly Abraham looked around and saw a gigantic ram tittered on a sub-tree. He used it to offer the burnt sacrifice instead of his son Isaac.
The above episode happened in the good old days. If it were today, I wonder which father can attempt to bind his son or daughter as Abraham did, and he or she would keep quiet. In fact before you are about to do so, your son or daughter would bind you and slaughter you first. Recently in the Ayobo area of Lagos, a 29 old man named Taiwo Akinola went to his mother's shop in front of their residence and invited her to come inside the house for an important message. He sent his 14 year old brother Farouk to buy him white handkerchief. The curious mother anxiously hurried to her son's invitation. Immediately she set foot in their sitting room, Taiwo smashed her head with a plank studded with sharp nails. She fell down and was writhing in pains. To make sure she was dead, the dissident son hit her with pressing iron and UPS charger until she became unconscious. He wanted to use her for ritual purpose. The white handkerchief would be used to soak her blood.
Immediately Farouk came back from the errand, he did not see his mother in her shop. Hence he hurried inside the house. Behold their mother lying in the pool of her blood. He raised alarm which attracted the neighbours. Taiwo was arrested and handed over to the police. Isaac was an obedient son while Taiwo was a dissident occult son. God provided for Isaac. Will He also provide for Taiwo? Parents, beware of your children of nowadays. According to Chinua Achebe, things have fallen apart and the centre can no longer hold.
Now back to our topic: God will provide. A wretched man married a very poor woman. They ate from hand to mouth. Often both went begging along the street to make ends meet. As they were bearing children yearly, they were advised to give birth to the number of children they could carter for. But they were reluctant to heed the advice. For them, it is God who gives children and he ought to provide for them. Hence they ended up getting a dozen of children, seven girls and five boys. The twelve children were malnourished. They looked like children suffering from kwashiorkor. There was no sufficient food to feed them. The parents used cement bags to sew clothes for them. Hence, the children became laughing stock in the public. They were left to the mercy of charity. As time went by, three of the girls and two of the boys died one after the other as a result of hunger and lack of medical attention. The lives of the remaining seven children were hanging on a balance. Later, two of the girls and two of the boys also kicked the bucket. In no distant time, the stubborn and wretched couple also died within the interval of two weeks. They were buried like fowls. They were irresponsible. Would God provide for them in Heaven? The three children left behind were taken over by the Government and put in an Orphanage h in order to save their lives.
Parents must endeavour to be responsible. We always preach responsible parenthood. Irresponsible parents must pay a penalty in one way or the other. Look at how the above irresponsible wretched couple watched helplessly as almost all their nine children died due to their carelessness. God provides for responsible and hardworking people. The purposes of marriage essentially are: companionship, helpmate, procreation and up-bringing of children. If you bring forth a child into this world, you must take the responsibility of bringing him or her up. Personally, I was born a fool on April fool’s Day . My parents responsibly brought me up with wisdom. Thus, I became a wise fool.
There was the story of a very pious and religious young man. He almost slept in the church on a daily basis. He had a shop stocked with provisions. Hardly was he seen selling. The shop was under lock and key most of the times. The parents, siblings and well-wishers advised him that there is time for everything. He always replied, “God will provide.” He had reached marriageable age and still dependent on the meager earning of his parents. As time passed by, the stock in his shop started rotting. Termites brought down the shop itself and all the goods perished. Even the priest in the church where he worshipped admonished him to pray and to work. His assertion was that God will provide. Later, his parents died within a space of two years without proper burial rites. The mud house built by the parents also collapsed. The young and only son was forced to be sleeping in the church. One day, the priest in-charge drove him out of the church and cautioned him, “Go home and be useful to God, to yourself and to the society. God provides not for lazy people but for hardworking ones.”
The above story reminds me about the loafer Unoka, Okonkwo's father in the Novel “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe. Unoka was lazy. His colleagues trekked to far distant rich lands to farm yearly. But Unoka stayed at home to play the flute. Lazily he planted his yam seedlings on poor sandy soil in his compound. At harvest time he got nothing. After some time, he took a cock and went to an oracle to appease and sacrifice to the gods for a rich harvest. After making some incantations, the oracle priest gave him back his cock shouting, “Unoka, go home and work like a man!” He left in shame. Indeed, God does not provide for a lazy person. Saint Paul gives us this admonition: “If you do not work, do not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). A common saying goes this way: “There is no food for a lazy man.”
There was a student in a secondary school. He was made the Chapel Prefect due to his piety. In fact, he was a good student. He prayed more than the saints and angels of God. The students popularly called him 'Holy Saint' while others called him 'Holy of Holies.' He was impeccable in character. He was rarely seen in class. He was found always praying in the Chapel. Whenever he was confronted for his absence in the class, he would reply, “I am not the Class Prefect. I am the Chapel Prefect. Therefore, my constituency is the Chapel. The Lord is my Shepherd. There is nothing I shall want.” He believed that God would provide for him during his final examination. Only God knew what he wrote on his nine West African Certificate Examination papers. When the result came out, he scored 9x9. In other words, he failed woefully. Why did God not provide for him? A just reward awaits the best answer.
As the 2019 General Clections are approaching, we are praying God to provide us good leaders at the local, state and national levels. Earnestly, we pray for the emergence of a President like Moses who would lead Nigerians to the Promised Land. Saint James says that faith without good works is dead (James 2:17). Therefore, if you do not have Permanent Voter's Card, how can God provide? God can only provide when we cooperate. God helps those who help themselves. As good citizens of Nigeria, be you Christian or Moslem, you must perform your civic responsibility. Everyone from the age of 18 constitutionally has the right of franchise: to vote or be voted for. As Christians, each and every one of us must present his or her baptismal card and voter's card on the judgment seat of God. We are citizens of Earth and Heaven. A good earthly citizen makes a good heavenly citizen, vice versa.
The Book of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 tells us that there is time for everything. Therefore, we should make good use of our time daily. There is time to pray, play, work, sleep, etc. Time is very precious. God provides for those who make good use of their time and talents. It is God who gives good health. Nonetheless, we must take good care of ourselves. In order to have a sound mind in a sound body, I need some time to relax my bodily and mental faculties.
Therefore, I am proceeding on my annual leave henceforth. You will hear from me again soonest, if God provides.