Short Story: Redemption

He threw the bottle across the room. It hit the wall and shattered into pieces of different sizes. He let out a big shout – a sound that belted from the depth of his diaphragm, deep, loud, and heavy. It hurt, his throat burned, but he could not stop himself.

 

 

This was the end of him. 

 

“God is such a fun sponge.” 

 

 

He said this to himself over and over as his father drove the family to church on a Sunday morning. Church was his least favourite place. As a matter of fact, he hated it. He felt it was a waste of time, a fruitless tradition that was followed in the pursuit of having a made-up deity which ultimately his parents would rely on to suck the fun out of his life. They said He was a good God who loved people, but he did not agree. 

His teenage mind could not equate fun, love and freedom to anything related to God. Instead, God was a non-existent being, one that served the purpose of being called on when religious people felt the need to disapprove of the actions of young people or, He was used to instil unnecessary fear into children, to force them to grow towards a morality that was man instilled.

 

So, he went to church on Sunday morning, because that was the way things were done at home, not because he wanted to be there. 

His 20s provided a path for escape. University life encouraged his independence, the gym built his confidence, and finally, Sunday morning became a habitual time to recover from the wild adventures of a sleepless Saturday night.

 

Philosophy, science, and coffee conversations allowed him to explore a much more pleasant and logical train of thought: there isn’t really a God and if there was, screw Him, he wanted nothing to do with Him. 

He had a strong thirst for alcohol, an insatiable desire for girls, a burning curiosity for drugs and an obsessive pursuit of money. All the things that he – a pastor’s son – should not desire according to the plethora of aunties in church.

 

 

Nevertheless, it felt good to do what he wanted to do, to be his own boss and satisfy his own desires. 

It felt good. 

It had felt good. 

It did not feel good anymore. 

What happened?

 

 

Gradually, an emptiness which he had not foreseen had crawled into his heart. It was as black as soot and as dangerous as a hungry lion. It gnawed at his heart and swallowed the momentary feelings of joy and pleasure he had enjoyed. 

 

As he sat on the couch in his city apartment, loneliness embraced and overwhelmed him. He could not cry anymore, all the tears in him had come and gone. Hope had deserted him, leaving him with a heart that was broken by betrayal, lust and friendship.

 

There had to be something that could numb the pain! Something that could make him feel himself again. 

 

But nothing was working. The emptiness was invisible. The longing is persistent. 

“I am here.” 

Pain previously unknown to him muddled his head. 

“I am here.” 

Perhaps death is the answer? 

“I am here.” 

He heard it.

 

 

Over the years he had heard that voice. It reminded him of comfort and calmness. It always brought him peace. But he had never wanted to yield to it. Whenever the voice came, softly saying “I am here”, he would tell it to shut up. He knew its owner and he made it clear to Him that He was not allowed to interfere in his life.

 

 

“I am here.”

 

 

A struggle began within his soul. A fight between fullness and emptiness, light and darkness, life and death. There was a desire to savour and welcome the sweetness of a voice that reminded him of Sunday morning years ago. Yet, he heard the call of death urging him to take action and walk into its realm.

 

Falling to the ground in a fit, a silent scream filled his head. 

 

“I am here.” 

He hears it. 

Peace. 

Quiet. 

“I have always loved you with everlasting love.” 

“Please…please…can You…please…save me from myself.” 

“I am the Saviour of your soul.” 

Peace. 

Wholeness. 

This was the end of him. 

This was also his new beginning.

 

 

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Mathew 11: 28 – 30 (MSG)

 

 

Words by Precious Umeh