Please note that this series contains some sexually explicit content, violence and offensive language. It is not appropriate for children nor an immature and sensitive audience.
A SMALL WORLD - SEASON THREE
Copyright © Ufuomaee
Most of the couples looked happy this morning, Pastor Emmanuel thought, as he scanned the faces looking back at him. He took note of the exceptions and made a mental note to meet with them privately after the meeting. All fifteen couples were together in the meeting room, as they met to commune with each other and hear from God. It wasn’t just any other meeting, it was a fellowship service.
Tunde and Bolanle had led the praise and worship, before he’d taken centre stage to share a word of ministry to the small congregation. He tried to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading each time, instead of preaching from a standard template, even though they had specific messages and lessons they wanted to share with the couples. His message came to him as he looked at some of the couples from his Voyagers subclass.
“Good morning all,” he began. “I trust you all slept well. Thank God for a new day, and a new week.”
“Good morning, Pastor,” the congregation chorused back.
“Please turn your Bibles with me to the book of Psalms, chapter 127. I am reading from the King James Version, verses one to five.
“It reads: “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain…”
“Verse two; “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.””
Temi, who’d struggled with sleep last night and was now dosing off beside her husband, forced her eyes open at his words. Guilt had kept her up last night, but perhaps the word today was for her.
“Verse three; “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Four; “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man, so are children of the youth.””
Funke turned to look at her husband at this word. She wondered if their argument would be stirred up again. She sat attentive to hear the pastor’s message.
“Last verse; “Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.””
Pastor Emmanuel closed his Bible and smiled at his audience. “Amen?”
“Amen,” they solemnly agreed.
“Our memory verse today is verse one – “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” I think it aptly puts in focus the message in this short chapter, which is that all these things we seek and do to protect ourselves are good, but if we are not working with God, they profit us nothing.
“Primarily, you all came here this weekend to work on issues in your marriage or to make your marriage stronger through this intimate time of learning and sharing. And it’s all very good. It is to be encouraged. But if you take all the lessons you have learnt here and practice them, yet you disregard God, you will still fail in your endeavour. The most important thing you should get from your time here is an intimate knowledge of God and His will for your marriage. Unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain that build it.
“Likewise, we see here that children are a blessing from God, a gift He distributes according to His own wisdom and good will. Yet, not every marital union result in procreation. And it’s not because they are unrighteous or not blessed. Children are a blessing in marriage, not the mark of a blessed marriage, amen?”
“Amen,” a few in the audience voiced agreement.
“However, in our world today, with the aid of technological and medical advancements, many are having children alone, out of wedlock or even by employing surrogates and all sorts of medical interventions. What for? To obtain a good thing… Children are a good thing.
“But is it God’s will for all these children to be born? Into these homes? Who are raising these children? Is it by quantity that one is blessed by them or by purpose? The scripture we read says in verse five - NIV version - “Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”
“But is it uncommon, these days, to see children bringing shame on their family? Even for our hero and king, David, his children brought about the downfall of his kingdom. So, we see that it’s not by quantity, but by purpose. Isaac is an example of a child of purpose.”
Niyi nodded in agreement with the Pastor’s message.
“What was God’s will concerning the child? Were his or her parents acting in obedience or building their “quiver full” for the sake of boasting in the streets? We all need to ask ourselves why we want children; for our glory or God’s?”
Pastor Emmanuel looked between Niyi and Funke, before continuing. Tolu had also been paying attention and was now thinking about her desire for children. She didn’t want to be found carrying a burden God hadn’t given her for His glorious purpose. She turned to her husband, who smiled and kissed her cheek, and they both turned their attention back to the pastor.
“It is so sad to me when I see couples, who should never have been together, trying to carry on a marriage that they never sought God’s face to enter. Maybe because they were fornicating and got pregnant. Maybe because they believe they love each other, and marriage is the logical next step. But they don’t know God – the author of marriage. They don’t know Him, who is LOVE. They may not even share the same faith or understanding or vision, yet they want to get married! And ultimately, we see fools who started to build something they had no idea nor direction about, faltering and making a mockery of this holy institution… And many times, it’s so much worse because they have already brought children into their house of confusion!
“It should not be this way! Marriage has a purpose. Every child has a purpose. We should not be so fickle nor careless about getting married or having children. The purpose is not about us, but about declaring Christ to the world. That’s the purpose of marriage. And you can’t do it, you can’t be successful in it, without God.”
Oyinda, who had been paying attention, swallowed. It sounded like the pastor was talking about his marriage. He and Temi had been building a house without God, and look at the state of them now… Sure, things were beginning to look better between them, but even he could admit that if he wanted to stay faithful to her, he would need divine help! He knew he was great in bed, but she needed more than good sex to be happy.
“I really want to urge each of you that are seeking to be successful in your marriage, but haven’t yet given your life to Jesus, to come forward and do so now. Do not be ashamed to stand in the presence of your peers and confess your need for God! We have all been in your position, and in fact, we are all still in need of Him – more of Him. If you want to know what love is, what makes a marriage beautiful, how to be a faithful spouse and lover, then you need to know Jesus. You need to know His will for your life and your marriage.
“The past doesn’t matter anymore. As long as you surrender it at His feet, He can and will make it all beautiful again. He is the God who breathes life into dead bones and they become living. He is the Resurrection and the Life. He can and will resurrect and give new life to you and your marriage if you will just yield control to Him… Today,” the pastor urged the men and women before him.
A few arose to surrender their lives to God. And Oyinda found himself rising from his seat too. He was ready to know this God. Humbly, he walked out and received the call to salvation.
Temi cried as she watched him. He had said he would do anything to save their marriage, but she prayed that truly, his motivation for receiving salvation was more than her… More than their marriage. She prayed and hoped that it was a genuine soul repentance and a recognition of his depravity without God.
She too arose to rededicate her life to Jesus and repent of her sins.
After the service concluded, the friends all banded together to welcome Oyinda to the family of God. Danny had tears in his eyes, remembering his own conversion, last year. He gave Oyinda a big, long hug, before anyone else could get in. Oyinda chuckled, loving the care and attention he received from his friends.
They eventually gave him space to reach for his wife’s hand and fall on his knees before her and his friends. Temi was shocked by his gesture, which seemed like a proposal. She swallowed, tears rolling down her cheeks as she beheld her husband.
“Temi, I am so sorry for everything I’ve done to betray your trust, to hurt you and make you feel less than the beautiful, amazing woman that you are. You are my wife and, truly, my better half! If you were not so good to me, I wouldn’t have known what a great loss losing you would be. I’m sorry for what my infidelity did to our marriage. I want to spend the rest of my days making happiness with you, Temi. I never want to make you cry again. Please forgive me and give us another chance.”
Temi swallowed. He looked so sincere. Could she trust him? What was God’s will?
My will is that none of these shall perish, but all should come to repentance…
If you do not forgive, you will not be forgiven…
You are My disciple if you love one another as I loved you…
Temi began to nod slowly, and Oyinda rose to his feet. He took his wife in his arms and kissed her fiercely, tears pouring down his face. One by one, the room emptied, leaving the reconciled couple in a lovers’ embrace.
The group of friends were a happy bunch when they gathered around the lunch table to take group photos. One of the waiters agreed to take their photograph. Oyinda was beaming from ear to ear. Temi was cuddled in his arms, a timid smile on her face. Danny, Tolu, Bolu and Lola all had bright smiles and eyes, as they posed for the camera.
When they settled in their seats, the men sat across from their wives. Oyinda noticed that Temi seemed a little distant. He brought out his hand to hold hers on the table and squeeze it. She smiled at him, but it didn’t quite reach her eyes. He swallowed. Had he done something wrong?
No one else seemed to notice, and Temi tried to be as jovial as the rest of them. But the truth was that she’d felt pressured. Yes, it was the right thing to do to forgive Oyinda. To let the past go and build a future together. He had hurt her so badly that she’d sought another man for comfort, and now he was promising her the world, like he had done in the beginning. How long would it last? That was her worry.
Only time would heal the wound his betrayal had caused. But she had to hand him over to God, and let God deal with him. She couldn’t stand in judgment of him and second-guess his conversion, wondering if it was just a way to subdue her and have his way. Whatever he did, she had to do the right thing, even if it was hard to.
Let the dead worry about the dead, Temi. You follow Me…
The Lord ministered to her and touched her heart in that moment, so that her burden was lifted. She had to let the dead; the worldly and wicked, do what they would do and worry for themselves. Her calling was to follow Jesus and, by His grace, she would do it. God was in control.
When the food came, she received her order and ate with a big appetite. She noticed Oyinda had grown quiet and suspected that it was because of her. She reached for his hand on the table, and their eyes met when she held him. They smiled at each other, and their eyes lit up with the rise of their lips.
“I love you,” he mouthed.
“I love you, too.”
To be continued...
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