I entered a bus, a few weeks ago, and as it is normal with me, I continued to count the vacant seats whenever a passenger entered, until it remained five. A man came and stood by the side of the door, holding N100, which was the transport fare. He started to direct passengers to the vacant seats. I continued to resist something that was telling me within, that he would not make the journey with us. And he did not! To his surprise, two people entered the bus and the door was shut. We drove off. He had missed his chance. Chai!
‘So you carry only four passengers on a seat?’ he muttered but nobody listened to him. I drew the attention of a lady sitting by my left side about the drama. “This is how some people will miss Heaven during the Rapture,” I told her. She agreed with me. “Why didn’t the man travel with us?” you may ask. Cash problem? No. Vacant seats when he came? No. It was postponing till a later time what he would have done immediately. This explains why the Bible enjoins us, “Today, when you hear His voice, harden not your heart”. May it not happen to you, not even to your enemy! May we not put off till a future second what we ought to do now.
During the first week of January 1970, Nigerian soldiers raided our compound, searching for arms. They had suspected that Biafran soldiers might have hidden arms there. The officer, who led the operation, was promoted to the rank of a Lieutenant but he did not accept it. At that time, most people regarded promotions to the office cadre as promotion for death because they led the troops to battle and were therefore, the targets of the enemy. After their arms-searching, we were surprised that we were no more hearing the sound of shelling and the booming of machine guns. A week later, the news filtered in that the war had ended. The soldier, who accepted his promotion a week earlier, when Uncle refused his, never entered any trench for battle, not even for a second. Uncle blamed himself copiously for refusing his promotion! Missing an opportunity! May it not happen to you!
On the other hand, my uncle missed hell by the whiskers for accepting an opportunity. When we travelled for the burial of our Senior Uncle during the Easter in 1997, he reported his son to me, angry that he was not attending Church services. I told him that attending Church services were not important. He was surprised that I could say that, being a child of God, and a Minister of God. “Why are you saying this?” he asked me. “Nnanna,” I called him, “do you attend Church services? I know that you have a bad leg but it does not stop you from travelling to far places to attend all sorts of meetings. Have you not travelled home for the burial of our Senior Uncle, but it will not allow you to attend Church services, even the one on your street?” I told him. In July, I travelled home and his wife informed me that he had not started attending Church services as he had promised me but promised to take him to Church the following Sunday.
That Sunday, his wife kept her word. She had him cut his hair, ironed his clothes and took him to a Gospel Church on his street at Enugu. After hearing the Gospel message, he surrendered his life to Jesus, accepting Him in his life as his Lord and personal Saviour. The Minister laid his hands on him and prayed for him. He returned home, a changed man, full of joy. He challenged his wife and children about their faith, accusing them of not being serious with the Lord. The next day, he passed on, not sick! When the news of his demise was brought to the home of the Pastor, who led him to Christ, his wife said that in her dream, she saw the angels of God carrying him to Heaven but that she did not know it was death. Had he postponed his salvation till the next Sunday, his story would have been different. My Uncle escaped hell narrowly!
One of my classmates in UNN was sad that he was not enjoying the Federal Government Scholarship, though he made three Alphas in Higher School. I made two Bs and one C in GCE Advanced Level of the University of London, yet, I enjoyed the Scholarship. His problem was that he did not do what I did and what I did was simple. Any fool could do it. I applied for the Scholarship but he did not! The Federal Scholarship Board would not apply for anybody. Imagine his agony when my fees were being paid for the four years we were in school! Missing an opportunity – not doing what he should have done – just filling a form at no cost! A little thing like that can prevent someone from making Heaven.
There is a time however, when missing an opportunity may pay. Let me quote an extract from one of my books, Unequal Yoke, “Nath, a brother in the Lord, arrived Lagos from UK. His desire was to travel the next morning. As his flight schedule was 8 am, he had to sleep near the Airport, in the house of a Nigerian Airways employee. His host, who was on night duty, returned very late in the morning because his relieving colleague reported late to duty. Just as he was rushing for his boarding pass, he saw the plane nosing off the tarmac. It was a great disappointment to him because of his tight programme. Moreover, his anxiety of rushing to the warm embrace of his wife and children was suspended temporarily by the care-free attitude of the late-coming officer.
Nath was not the only disappointed passenger that morning. There were those who arrived early but could not obtain the boarding pass because they did not knock at the back-door with their money for bribery. Apart from the VIPs, determined sometimes by outfit, some arrived late but obtained the scarce boarding passes on their personal reputation or that of their military connections. In a more pathetic case, a man, who left his family in the US and visited his country, Nigeria, was unable to travel that morning. He lost his ticket to a thief. The thief was able to steal his way into the plane. Imagine!
Nath and the rest of the ‘unlucky’ passengers thus missed their most cherished flight and also missed their most dreaded enemy. Not all the ‘lucky’ passengers were able to reach their most cherished destinations. Most of them died and were roasted in the ill-fated plane, which crashed when it was landing.
Nath was glad at last that he missed his flight and death. He could do anything to reward the late-coming officer, who made him miss death. The man, who lost his ticket to the thief, was embarrassed at Aba, when one of his relatives saw him and took to his heels. His relative thought he saw a ghost. Who would not, after seeing his name in the Daily Times as one of the crash victims? The man could do anything for the thief for stealing him out of death. The thief, unfortunately, did not live to receive the compliment. He died with the stalk of the stolen ticket in his pocket.” Chuleke!
For further comment, Please contact: Osondu Anyalechi: 0802 3002-471; [email protected]