God proved Himself faithful as always when the airbag ballooned to protect me from my imagined enemy — the last enemy of man.
A birthday is not a day to reflect on death. It is not the time to write about death, the “last enemy” of man (1 Corinthians 15: 26), the Grim Reaper and the ultimate silencer. But I have to, if only to glorify you O God, if only to testify about your goodness and your mercies that endure forever.
You are the God of the new beginning, the God of second chance, the God who shows up in time of trouble. The God who came to me miraculously in the form of an airbag that opened up like a parachute to save my life. I have never experienced how a parachute or an airbag works, how it opens. I never pray for it. I just look at the airbag sign on the steering and on the dashboard and just think it is just a piece of hidden decoration, an accessory I will never ever imagine coming to my rescue in the journey of life.
Ah, life. Between life and death is a thin line. As thin as gossamer. A borderline so porous that you can easily cross over to that still and silent country where no traveller ever returns.
A few weeks to my 66th birthday, I nearly crossed over due to an unfortunate incident, an accident I never imagined and never prayed for. Well, that is why it is called an accident. It just happens. Unannounced. Unprepared. All of a sudden. Boom!
You hear the sound. A deadly sound. A war sound. A creaking, massive, metallic sound of collision. Atomic sound. Your personal Hiroshima. It’s like an earthquake. In a split second, it was almost over for me and my mangled car. But God proved Himself faithful as always when the airbag ballooned to protect me from my imagined enemy—the last enemy of man.
In journalism, we have the 5Ws and H. What happened? Who? Where? When? Why? How? We call it the 5 or 6 elements of news. Every student of journalism learns and masters it like ABC taught in kindergarten. I had gone for a haircut. I had parked my car near the barber’s shop on a not-so-smooth tarred road without bumps and speed breakers along St. Mary’s Catholic Church event centre in Isolo. I had finished the haircut, put on my seatbelt and started the car only for this phantom to emerge out of the blues. A young man and his girlfriend speeding from the opposite direction suddenly lost control and rammed straight into me with indescribable, deadly ferocity that totally mangled my beloved Mercedes and nearly finished me but for God who came in an airbag. The ferocity of the attack tore my seatbelt and threw me to the backseat like a flying saucer. It was the closest brush with death in my sixth decade on earth heading for the biblical age 70 in four years’ time.
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I was in a state of shock, as to be expected. But I managed to gather myself together, surrounded by onlookers with mouth agape, asking whether I was alright, thanking God for saving my life. Yes, I was OK. The young man and his girlfriend were instantly rushed to a nearby clinic for first aid. The impression I got from the investigating police officer was that of two tattooed hippy-like duo, scantily dressed, their eyes red probably with Tramadol and Coke or whatever Nigerian youths of today are taking. These are the people that nearly terminated my life. The young man didn’t have driving licence, the car didn’t even belong to him, he had just pounced on his elder brother’s car and zoomed off with his girlfriend only to endanger my life. I later met the brother, the owner of the car who kept pleading: “Sir, we are your children, please forgive.” They couldn’t even afford to pay for the two cars to be towed to the police station. I had to pay for the towing.
To cut a long story short, I had to forgive them and not to press charges. What matters is having my life back. My life is more precious than my shattered car, the car that saved my life and became a metaphor which illuminated for me the whole thing about salvation. How the Son of God came to intermediate in our lives and gave us salvation.
Not long after, I had a surgery. It was another nightmarish experience. The two generators in the hospital had packed up and the surgeon had to rely on public supply. I wanted to call it off, but I didn’t have the power to say so because everything and everyone was ready.
I was encouraged by the calmness and adroitness of the experienced, jocular surgeon who started with prayers, saying to God: “You are the doctor of doctors. I put this procedure in your hands. Let it to go well.”
As I watched the whole operation in the night, shivering with half of my body on anesthesia, my prayer to God was: “Your word at the beginning was: ‘Let there be light, and there was light.’ O God
of creation, don’t let the devil take this light tonight.” And thankfully, there was light throughout the nearly one hour procedure which went successfully.
Beloved, there is nothing as good as having your health back. I thank Jehovah Rapha, the God that heals. I thank members of my family for standing by me. And I also thank all my friends on Facebook and readers of this column for your prayers and avalanche of birthday wishes. My prayer is that the God that healed me will heal our nation from all its afflictions. As the Bible says, a time will come when sorrow, death and sickness in all forms, be it cancer or whatever, would be abolished: “Jehovah will take away from you all sickness, and he will not bring upon you any of the terrible diseases that you have known in Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 7:15). May that day come quick. Very quick.
Now, you can understand why my 66th birthday on Monday, July 23, was so special.