He sighed. It was not like he did not want to worship God along with the congregation. It was just that his guilt, the bouncer, would not allow him to enter the throne room of God. Thankfully, it seemed like Satan did not come to church today; he would have made matters worse. He turned to look at the couple again. They must really be in God's good books to be so much in tune with God. The look on their faces was out of this world. Their younger child was now looking at him intently. No, he would not be a bad example to this pure, innocent soul. Facing the pulpit again, he closed his eyes and tried to sing along. He even tried to raise his hand just to go along with the motion. Finally, here was some motivation. Maybe he would soon be caught up in the spirit of worship too. So much for the struggle. A deep voice cleared the throat from behind him, stopping him in his tracks, "Not so fast, son of Adam!" He could feel his mischievous smile. "Argh!" He almost slapped his forehead. "Speak of the devil!"
Now the #TheWorshiper’sDilemma continues…
“You got that right,”
“Get thee behind me, Satan.” He muttered under his breath.
“I’m already behind you,” Satan chuckled.
He ignored Satan and tried to join the worship again but the back of his eyelids acted as a screen and his mind projected images from the previous night on to it. He opened his eyes in frustration. Did it have to be this hard?
“Not exactly. You don’t really expect to worship a holy God with a filthy mind and heart as yours, do you?” Satan sneered.
“God forgives and he wants me to come just as I am,”
“Where did you hear that from?”
“I was told.”
“You are only full of lies,”
“Then why don’t you go ahead and ask for forgiveness for last night, especially.” Satan challenged, “I’m sure your sources failed to mention if you continue to sin willfully, there is no longer any sacrifice of sin left for you.”
He slumped into his chair, rested his elbow on his knees and seated his chin in his palms with much discomfort. He stared hard at the ground. He knew sin was a hindrance to his prayers or was that also hearsay?
He knew exactly what to do. He quickly confessed his sins and asked for forgiveness and asked for God’s grace to overcome the next time. When he finished, he still felt the same. That should not have been a problem but he opened his eyes to see Satan patting Guilt on the shoulder and commending him for a good job well done.
“You don’t think he heard that, do you?” Satan grinned while doing a good job at hiding his displeasure. Satan sure knew how to make him feel miserable.
Condemnation came to sit beside him and drew him close. He put his head on Condemnation’s shoulder and snuggled in Condemnation’s embrace.
“Life sucks, bro,” Condemnation whispered. “Life sucks. Nothing more. You screwed up big time and that is all. Stop expecting any grace, you don’t deserve it.”
Somehow, Condemnation’s words were consoling but his heart still ached and longed for the relief that forgiveness brought; a forgiveness that seemed far away. Would he ever taste it again?
“You’re just wasting your time here.” Satan said with finality. This time, Satan was standing right in front of him, looking straight into his eyes.
The young worshiper, in his late teens rose from his seat, walked out of the auditorium, down the stairs and headed for the washroom. He entered the door marked ‘Gents’ and was soon sitting on the lid of the water closet behind a locked door. He would sit here till worship was over then he would return…or he would rather end up walking back home as he usually did when he ended up in such situations.
A cigarette would have been great at that particular moment but he was not one given to smoking. If he ever drew from his first stick., his father would chop his hand off without second thoughts.
“I would have to stop coming to church when I know very well that my heart is not in the right place,” He resolved.
There was a knock on the door. He remained quiet. The person would just move on. The knock came again. He heard it distinctively when it sounded again, only it was not the exactly the door but his heart.
“Who is there?”
“It’s me,” the all too familiar voice replied. It belonged to a friend he had met recently.
“You can’t come in,” he sighed. “It’s a mess.”
“I know, I can smell the stench.” The voice paused, “…and by the way, that’s why I am here.”
“Boy, this is embarrassing,” He muttered to himself.
“That is right but that can also change,” the voice replied as though the teen had spoken directly to its owner.
The teen unlocked the door of his heart and the Holy Spirit stepped in and quietly looked around the fist-sized space. A fresh wind blew in evacuating the stale air as well. Obviously, the Holy Spirit was not impressed with what he saw.
“I wondered when you were ever going to let me in here.” The Holy Spirit finally spoke.
“Never? You don’t deserve to be in here.” He looked everywhere but into the eyes of the Holy Spirit. He shifted his weight to from his left leg to the right.
“But you gave your whole life to Jesus and that includes this very room.” The Holy Spirit retorted.
“I now wonder why I gave my empty, worthless life to him in the first place.”
“Well, your worthless life was made worth the price of Jesus’ blood. That is why I will keep the keys from now on. There is really no need to lock it.”
“WHAT?” He almost screamed with a look of horror and disbelief clearly outlining his face. As to whether he was shocked the Holy Spirit wanted his filthy heart or the fact that he had just lost his privacy, he had no idea.
“It’s technically mine, remember?” The Holy Spirit continued, “Besides walls and locked doors never prevented me from seeing everything you ever hid or did in this room.
He tried to speak but his larynx failed him. The Holy Spirit continued, “It only gives you a false sense of security to carry out your rebellious activities.”
“Rebellious?” He thought. He looked around the room. This was where he had all his shameful dealings. This was where he came to when he did not want to give Jesus any attention. This was where he had stashed everything that was ever dear to him: from well-kept distasteful secrets to sweet victories, from smuggled desires to responsible character traits. Mostly, stuff he did not want Jesus to touch and the good stuff too basically acted as a front.
He was not sure if he was ready to give it all up but he had already signed the contract some two years ago. What sought of life would it be from now on?
“If I live, I live for you. Should I die, I die for you. In all my ways, I am yours…if I live, I live for you.” He could hear the congregation sing.
“That is freedom, my friend. Freedom.” The Holy Spirit uttered, disrupting his thoughts. “Now, you have to get to the auditorium.” The Holy Spirit stood at the door.
“No worries. I fired guilt. You can now enter the throne room with all confidence.”
“Satan is still out there,” he noticed the slight tremor in his own voice.
“So much for all I have taught you. Do not be deceived, God is faithful and just and has forgiven you….the exact moment you confessed your sin. You should not be listening to the deceiver of men but you should be submissive to the daily transformation I am causing in you.”
“Do you ever get tired of the mess I create over and over again?”
“Tired?” The Holy Spirit laughed, “You may be good at creating a mess but I never create a mess and you, my friend, are my creation.”
They walked out of the washroom. Just before he climbed the stairs to return into the auditorium, he turned to the Holy Spirit and from deep down his heart, with much remorse, he said, “Sorry, I really am sorry for my disbelief. Will you please help me understand the golden truths about my relationship with you?” A tear dropped down his cheeks.
The Holy Spirit nodded and smiled, placed a hand on his shoulder, lifted his chin and looked straight into his eyes. “There is your sincerity. You are forgiven. All that matters is submissiveness. We don’t want you finding an alternative locked room.” The Holy Spirit emphasized on the word ‘locked’
“This is going to be hard.”
“My grace is sufficient for you.”
He returned to his seat. The euphoria had heightened. He felt very light now. He joyfully sang along with the congregation, “Oguamma sɛ ayeyi. Oguamma sɛ ayeyi. Nyame oguamma wokum no, ɔsɛ ayeyi. Nyame oguamma wokum no, ɔsɛ ayeyi. (The lamb is worthy of praise. The lamb of God that was slain is the one is worthy of praise.)“
Meanwhile, Satan, who had seen the Holy Spirit talking with him realized his work had been undone. He chose to stay away until an opportune time. However, that very moment was opportune for her. He walked over to her and sat in the seat beside her quietly. He would allow her to worship with gladness of heart; he would not be able to stop her anyway. He straightened his slim fit suit and nonchalantly looked around in disdain. He would wait just a little while longer…
What did Satan want with her?
Would we ever know?
Disclaimer The worship songs in the #TheWorshiper'sDilemma are not the works of the author but belong to their respective owners.