I live in Enugu, Nigeria, and that means I must cross the Niger Bridge at Onitsha/Asaba once in a while. This Niger bridge is the gateway to Eastern Nigeria if you are coming from the western part of the country. Towards Christmas there is always a traffic jam before the bridge. This is partly because the authorities try to avoid traffic building up too heavily on the bridge. They try to force every vehicle into a neat single file as one approaches the bridge. Now, this means that traffic builds up really heavily behind this convergence neck, back into the express-road coming from Benin. On Tuesday 18th of December (2012), I was in this traffic crawl; I was going back to Enugu from Benin. A message was preached to me by the behaviour of a certain chap in his Honda Pilot SUV.
I was with my wife. I knew about the long crawl, especially since I was in it just a few days before. Actually I did my best to this journey early so as to get there before it builds up excessively, but I underestimated the effect of being just a week away from Christmas day. We got there early enough but it was also late enough to be in a long go-slow (it eventually took about 2½ hrs to get to the bridge after joining the ‘go-slow,’ less than 8km before the bridge). I was in a nice vehicle, a big SUV. It is a well ACed car, with a massive 4.7litre engine running smoothly. Music was on and my wife and I were gisting. In short, I was ready to wait.
As soon as we joined up, I chose to move into the innermost lane, closest to the concrete divide on the dual carriage road. It is supposed to be two-lane road but at times like this the Nigerian road lawlessness shows up and a third lane had formed. This was the main reason I chose to move into the innermost lane to avoid having to struggle with ‘third-laners’ who are trying to ‘shunt.’ Initially the lane I chose appeared slower than the rest as to movement. My wife remarked it and suggested I moved to the next lane. I explained to her that I chose this lane for certain reasons and it wouldn’t be wise to change it for the simple reason that it appeared slow. I also explained that no matter what it appeared like, experience has taught me that all the vehicles will get to the bridge at about the same time, including those fellows who are hustling, shunting and constantly changing lanes. I also said I will only change lanes if a vehicle in front breaks down and there consequently is a total stop in our lane. These were the principles I was operating by that day. She understood and we continued our crawl in peace while talking. Believe me when I tell you there were several times I was tempted to change my lane as it appeared that the other lanes were moving much quicker, but I resisted the temptation, stood my ground and remained.
Now, there was this fellow in the traffic jam with us who it appeared like the good Lord planted just to show what life is really like. I noticed this fellow driving a Honda Pilot; he was moving in and out of the lanes at every chance he got or was able to force. Once the lane next to the one he is in moved, he went in. It soon came to a halt and he’d be off again to try get back into the lane he just left. He was not at peace but was being tossed to and fro by every wind of motion in any of the lanes. I calmly remained on my lane. My wife and I observed this chap for a very long time. Please notice this: with all the hustling, we noticed that he was forever near us. Sometimes he was some car spaces ahead, but then we would nicely crawl up to where he was and even go past him. We watched this chap for close to 2 hours. At a point he and his fellow occupant lit cigarettes and began to smoke. The guy wouldn’t relax. Eventually, we got to the neck of the ‘bottle’ (where all lanes must converge into a single file towards getting unto the bridge), and he was, amazingly, not ahead but two cars behind us.
There is another thing I want to point out: I don’t think he observed that he was not further upfront for all the hustling than those traveling on the same road, in the same crawl, but who were relaxed—people like me. No, he wasn’t observing, and that lesson was lost on him. He would have reached the same point at about the same time, with less stress both on him and on his vehicle. The summary is that he was living in deception and he did not know it.
As we passed the ‘neck’ of the crawl into the last stretch to climb the bridge, there was more space for manoeuvring, the concrete divide being absent around here; at this point the chap sped up, moved into the left (facing on-coming vehicles) and tried to do a fast break for the bridge. It was going well, until he almost ran in to a commercial minibus with a similar intent, and he broke the side mirror of the bus. The driver of the bus gave chase, caught up with him and quarrels began, security men moved in and moved them to the side of the road to prevent obstruction to flow, and again we passed by him nicely while he was settling with the bus driver whose mirror he just broke. He must have parted with some money. This guy wouldn’t learn.
Again on the bridge, as we were descending into Onitsha, another crawl was on, so we slowed down. After a while he showed up again, breezed past me, his way had not changed a bit. Shortly after this we cleared all go-slows and I turned into Onitsha proper to connect with a side road after passing through GRA, a connection which by-passes all other trouble spots inside Onitsha and joins up with the Enugu-Onitsha express. My journey went smoothly after that and I didn’t see the fellow again.
I am telling this story because the lessons of life were just spilling out of the whole thing. It was a nice occasion for my wife and me to share the word of God and the precepts of life. Here are some of the lessons of life we observed.
1. When you are starting out in life, choose your path (or lane). Don’t dash into everything that seems to be moving fast beside you. Your path is your career or profession and the principles you have learned in God to live life by. I call those principles your wisdom for salvation. Don’t start a business you know nothing about nor have any passion for just because it seems to be making money. Before you start a ministry, know the kind of ministry you believe God called you into and avoid changing your pattern to fit those whose ministries are ‘growing.’ You are on a different lane in life.
2. Hurrying, fretting, hustling etc, only gives you the feeling you are making progress. It is just a feeling. It is most likely you are not moving faster than you would have if you took it easy. Remember, it is vain to rise up early and go to bed late.
3. You may be deceived that you got to where you are because of your extra effort. The truth is that there was a current that was carrying everybody on that path. There is a river that flows, get into that river and you will be moved by God.
4. The journey of life is sweeter and easier, with fewer accidents, if you would travel it with patience and with grace. God is good to those who wait for him (Lam 3:25).
5. Those smart dashes often lead to accidents. I remember the story of a Pastor whose church member became a state governor or something similar to that, and he became a contractor. The man of God ended up in jail. He was making a smart dash for money. Troubles tend to chase after the Christian who is making that kind of dash. And you said, "No, for we will flee on horses… Therefore those who pursue you shall be swift (Isa 30:16).
6. Life can be tempting. The way your friend made it so quick may be alluring; but wait, stick with what is yours and eventually you will get to your bridge.
I have a testimony; my life has experienced these things. God has taught me to know that I am on the way to the place that only He prepared, and all good things are waiting for me there. Good things have come to me again and again at the right times, and more good things that are yet to come will come to me in their own seasons. Anything I do not have is because I do not need it yet. Yes, in the initial stages I may appear slow, but I have been blessed by the peace of God which passes all understanding. I succeed in life by the grace of God.
Don’t forget, God is good to all, but especially to those who wait for Him.
The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness.
"The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him." The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.
It is good that he waits silently For the salvation of the Lord Lam 3:22-26 NASB
Wait for the Lord, and keep His way, And He will exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you will see it. Ps 37:34 NASB
By Emmanuel on 23 Dec, 2017
Blessed by this. Thank you sir!
By peter ogburu on 25 Dec, 2017
Thank you sir, i find reality of the word of God in your teachings. i listen and read your messages with fresh and new understanding about God and the meaning life every day...