The year 2020 was a year. There have been years, but then, there was 2020! I do not know where to begin.
I started the year back in Lagos having completed my mandatory service year (NYSC). It was time to rest and recover, before getting a new job and beginning a prosperous adult life.
At the end of January, I had sent out over ten job applications and was excitedly waiting for a callback. By mid-February, I had gotten no feedback and I had sent out over ten more.
Meanwhile, rumours were swirling that there was a virus outbreak that was ending people’s lives.
I was unbothered about this until I heard that it had been discovered in Nigeria. Seeing the news report from other countries, I knew we were in for a hard time. The pictures were gruesome and death was looking like a relief for many.
Just after I had gone for my first job interview, the country went into lockdown. With my performance at that interview, I was optimistic that my prayers had finally been answered, and here was the devil scuttling my joy.
I was angry, I was pained, I was depressed. Imagine me, a graduate, still having to depend on my parents for upkeep. I felt God had disappointed me. Of all years, why was it when it was my turn for progress that all of these chose to happen?
My friend’s dad just returned home from another state where he had gone on an official assignment. He told us how difficult it was for him to travel back to reunite with his family.
I remember the night when an ambulance had to rush in to come to take him to the hospital. By morning, we heard he was infected.
The whole family had to be quarantined. Imagine having to talk to your friend through a window because both of your lives depend on it. We were all frightened.
My parents told me to stop visiting them. They said if I contracted the virus, I would end up infecting my whole family. I just couldn’t stop.
The most surprising thing about this ordeal was how calm my friend was. He was also a new graduate like me, he was still job-hunting like I was, his father and sister were both in the hospital struggling for their lives, yet he still spoke with a smile on his face.
One Sunday morning, I went to check on him after hearing that his father and sister had returned home. I got to their door and heard them singing. As soon as I knocked on the door, he was in a hurry to let me in.
I asked about the quarantine and he told me that they were out of the quarantine and his dad and sister were fully recovered.
I went in and it seemed as though they were in a church service of some sort. They sang praises and did some hymns. They prayed and read from the Bible. When it was time for the sermon, my friend brought out his phone and went to Radio.DCLM.org
The preacher spoke about “The Great Refuge for Young, Old and All Believers.” It was like something I had never heard before.
Mind you, I am a Christian. Born and raised. I have been going to church all my life. I have attended different programs in different Churches, and so, I knew what Church was supposed to feel like.
Sitting in this living room with this family I love dearly and had come close to losing, this sermon was like a breath of freshness.
After we were done, I went back home, and just as my friend advised, I visited Youtube.com/DCLMHQ. I needed to get some more. It was like I had been introduced to a different dimension.
I got reintroduced to God. I learned about the different perspectives to Him. The Creator, Father, Savior, Comforter, Strengthener, Provider, and how living in His will supersedes everything else.
For the first time in a very long time, I felt hope. It was like a ray of sunlight after the longest night ever. Like being wrapped in a warm blanket after being drenched in the rain. It was like a cold drink on a hot day. I was rested, I was refreshed, and I was renewed.
This led me to begin building my relationship with God again. Studying from His word, joining the fellowship online, and spending time in prayer.
I did not get a job the next morning or get gifted a huge sum of money, yet it was like a huge load was lifted off me. I was smiling again. There was a spring in my step. I even caught myself singing hymns like. “Great is thy faithfulness O God my Father… Many things about tomorrow… In the hollow of His hands…”
People began commenting about how different I was. Someone even said I was radiant. I had never heard that said about me before. What was supposed to be my response? Thank you?
I got an online interview for one of the jobs I had applied for. Apparently, I had been shortlisted earlier, but they were restructuring to position well during the lockdown. Imagine the number of things we worry about, not knowing God has sorted them out
I was employed and told to work from home until the pandemic was over. The tasks were much, but the pay was good. The challenge though was balancing my work life and my personal life.
I would wake up to a heap-load of tasks and only went to sleep after barely finishing the last one. By morning it started all over again.
I was having less time to connect to the service. I believed as long as I had the time for personal devotion, I should be fine. Within a short time, I had even less time for that. By my second month, I was waking up and jumping headfirst into my work for the day.
My dad called me once to tell me I was changing. He said I no longer joined the family devotion, meals or even go out to see friends. According to him, the smile and spark he had come to love were now missing from my face. He was worried about me.
My response was that I was a highly valued worker at my company. I was needed for things to run smoothly. I was being paid to do all this. Should I quit because I no longer have time for frivolous things? Was this not the job I had been praying to God for?
It was when I caught myself doing things I thought I had left behind that I knew I was in trouble. Ridiculous lies that left me in shock were tumbling out of my lips with ease. I was so lonely, I ended up masturbating, a vice I had been freed from. I was seeking indulgences to help me find happiness.
It dawned on me that I was lost and had to find my way back. I tried praying, but it seemed God was far away. Hymns I sang with pleasure before now seemed forced. I even took a couple of days off work, but I was just uninterested in everything around me.
My friend came visiting. He had not seen me in over a month and was worried for me. We got talking and he told me about the importance of fellowship. He opened my eyes to a bible verse about “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together”.
He told me his location church had resumed and I was welcome to join them in worship.
When I showed up the next Sunday, I had an experience I can best describe as heaven coming down and glory filling my soul. I found Christ again, or should I say that He found me again?
The next morning, I had to call my boss and tell him that I would be needing official working hours because I needed time off to rest and recover myself after each working day.
I was surprised when he acceded and told me that I was to clock out at a specific time. Suddenly, I was back to fellowshipping with God, spending time with my family and relaxing with friends after work.
The lockdown was eventually lifted and “normal” took on a new meaning. I resumed work at the office and was happy to be leaving home daily. This time around though, I was a better manager of my time.
The stress of living in a busy city was there, but I had to discipline myself to spend time on the essentials and be more intentional about what counted as essential.
I learned to trust God even through the most difficult of times. I learned the importance of virtues like patience, selflessness, empathy, giving, love, and courage. Just as importantly, I learned about tithing; its origin, reason, importance, and the blessings attached to it.
There were lots of events last year. There were gains and losses, joys and sadness, tears and laughter. Last year was more than we all bargained for, but in the midst of it all, I found God and He found me.
In the middle of a pandemic, I got a miracle I never prayed for. Others may say otherwise, but I wouldn’t trade last year for another.
It was my year. Thanking God for the breath of life is a big enough thanksgiving.