Written by: Ife Grace Dada
The interview was for 8am. But by 5:30 a.m, I was dressed and out of the house. This would be the third interview I’d be attending in a week and I was hoping that one of them would at least click. At 33, what I wanted so badly was to move into my own rented apartment and settle down with my sweetheart, Ruth.
Two years ago, I started a business with a friend who disappeared to Togo with our profit. Trusting him with the funds of the business was a terrible mistake. He was the Sunday school supervisor for my branch and I’d been blessed by his teachings. I never expected he would do something like that. That experience shook me and Dad suggested I go for my masters. He believed with the Masters degree, I’d find a good job.
When the keke napep stopped in front of the venue for the interview, my heart fainted when I saw people hanging around the building, holding either a brown envelope or a clear bag. I found a spot by the wall and leaned on it, fighting despair and unbelief.
A woman beside me was narrating how she had travelled to the UK for Masters and after the course, she had tried to stay back but had been chased back home. Since she arrived a year ago, she had been scouting for a job. If she had used the school fees to start a business, maybe by now, she would have become a millionaire.
A man with bushy beards jumped down from a bike and stared at us. He was also holding a brown envelope. The only difference was that his was old and tattered and you could see stained sheets of white paper sticking out of the envelope.
He hissed. ‘God punish Nigeria. How many positions are they offering us that they called us out here? Nigerians are mad.’
‘The thing tire me o.’ a short pot-bellied man with bulgy eyes responded. ‘I just feel like tearing this certificate and jumping off the bridge.’
‘I have a friend who works there. She said the pay is between 40 and 50 thousand naira.’ The lady with a masters from the UK added.
‘Can you imagine. How can a Nigerian graduate living in Lagos be earning that stupid amount. And some senators are sitting somewhere eating our money.’
The discussion rolled on until the security guard opened the gate and asked us to come in. A man in dark suit came out of the office to address us. He introduced himself as the head of the HR department and divided us into batches. The reception was small to accommodate all of us. Some of us had to wait outside until we got called in.
It wasn’t until 2p.m that my turn came and by the time I was done, I was satisfied I had answered all the questions correctly.
The following week, I received mails from two of the companies. I had been rejected.
Days ran into weeks and still I didn’t hear from the others. Despair weighed me down and I just couldn’t fight it off. Mum tried to force me to eat but my taste buds had lost its usefulness. Depression was right at the door.
One Saturday morning, Ruth came to see me. My parents were out of town for a wedding ceremony and I was alone in the living room reading some scriptures in preparation for Sunday school the following day. When the words weren’t making any sense to me, I closed it and pushed my bible aside wondering what benefit serving God was. Most of my Sunday school students were gainfully employed. Young boys with nice rides. Beautiful single ladies pursuing different careers. Why was my case different?
‘Guess what? I got a job for you.’ Ruth announced as she entered the living room.
I sat up quickly and stared at my fiancée. She was grinning and rolling her eyes playfully at me.
‘Ruth, that joke is expensive. I don’t need that right now.’
‘I’m very serious. My boss connected me with his friend who is the MD of a consulting firm. They are looking for a sales executive. I went to see him at his office and he said you don’t need an interview. You can start next week.’
I jumped to my feet and pulled her into a tight hug. ‘Thank you so much.”
She laughed. ‘You won’t even ask how much the pay is.’
‘I don’t care right now. I just need a job. When do I start?’
‘Easy man. Relax.. You’ll be earning 70,000 naira monthly.’
I jogged round the sitting room and began to sing at the top of my voice.
Halleluyah eh, halleluyah o
Halleluyah eh, It’s the sound of victory
Halleluyah eh, Halleluyah o
Let the sound of rejoicing fill this house.’
‘Wait! You are getting that job on one condition.’
I stopped, waiting impatiently for more explanation. Nothing was going to stop me from getting this job.
‘The MD said you have to drop 100k to get the job.’
‘Dear, I know you don’t have that kind of money but I can loan you. You can pay back in installments. ‘
I didn’t know what to say. Like a punctured tyre, my excitement went flat. ‘But is this a right thing to do?’
Ruth hissed, the smile disappearing from her face. ‘That’s one problem I have with you. You are always too spiritual about everything. What is wrong in paying that money for a juicy offer. Dare, you take things too far. The other time, I just went hanging out with my friends at a club and you got very angry. Another time you were displeased by my romantic gestures and said it could lead to sex. Loosen up guy. God is not like that.’
‘Ruth please give me time to think about this.’
‘There is no time o. I have to get back to him by Monday.’
I sat there, confused. ‘I’ll get back to you tomorrow.’
Ruth hissed again and stood up. I pulled her back but she wrenched free and walked out.
What’s wrong with me? Here was a job offer for me and instead of grabbing it, I was throwing it away. I reached for my phone to call her but felt a check in my spirit.
God, why are you doing this to me?
Dabira, my sister and her best friend, Tope had entered the house and I didn’t even know they were staring at me from the door until I raised my head and saw them.
Dabira held my hands. ‘Dare, you have to stop worrying about getting a job. God will work something out soon. I dropped your CV with my boss yesterday and he said he’ll see how he can help.’
‘Thank you.’ I stood up and headed for my bedroom.
I was almost at my bedroom door when Tope called my name. Annoyed, I turned to hear what she had to say.
‘God dropped a word in my heart for you during my devotion this morning. It’s from the story of Adam and Eve. Please read that story.’
It took so much restraint not to laugh. Some Ladies sha . What was she trying to say? That I should read the part where God brought Eve to Adam so it could prove she was the one? When will she stop crushing on me and understand that nothing can bring us together.
Last week, a sister in my Sunday school class had boldly approached me and said she had a revelation that I was her Boaz. Another one has been chatting me up every night and it was already getting me irritated. What I needed was a job and not a woman spilling out trash.
That night I couldn’t sleep. I thought of what 70k monthly could do to my life. Take Ruth out on more dates and spoil her. Buy shirts for my father. Support my parents. Move into my own rented apartment. The more I thought about it, the more restless I became.
With my bible opened in front of me, I began to flip through the pages. Nothing seemed to make any sense. The story of Adam and Eve flashed through my mind and I laughed, flipping over to Genesis with the aim of reading the story and telling Tope it was a beautiful story about Ruth and I.
As I read, my eyes caught something I had never seen in my life. It was the picture of Adam and Eve sewing fig leaves as clothing for themselves but it couldn’t cover properly.
Then I saw God taking hold of an animal and killing it before washing the skin of the animal and drying it. I saw him take the beautiful skin and making what looked like a coat. Understanding hit me and the tears rushed to the surface. I heard a voice calm and still.
If I could be merciful to make coats for Adam who brought sin into the world, how much more you who I have washed with the precious blood of my Son. Will you rather I cloth you with thick coats or you want to fix this yourself and settle for mere fig leaves?
I lay prostrate on the floor, crying. They were not tears of anguish but a recognition of the depth of God’s love for me. He was not done talking yet.
Listen, if mere men know how to give good gifts to their children, how much more will I, your Father give good things unto you.
‘I believe you Lord.’
For the first time since Ruth came to my house, I felt so much at peace. It was as if a heavy burden had been taken away from my heart. I prayed all night thanking him for his love and mercy and very early the next morning, I sent a message to my fiancée explaining that I wasn’t led to take the offer.
She didn’t respond and refused to talk to me after the service that day. I called her all week and sent chats but she still didn’t reply. It was two weeks later during the workers meeting that I saw a ring on her finger.
Where had she gotten ring from? It didn’t look anything like the one I had given to her.
When Ruth accepted my proposal eight months ago, she pleaded we keep the relationship a secret until I got a job. Let them think we are friends for now and when the job comes, we can announce the plan for our wedding. Keeping the news away from my pastor and my parents was the most difficult thing to do. No one knew about our relationship except my sister, Dabira.
I confronted her after the worker’s meeting. ‘What’s going on?’
She looked me straight in the eyes. ‘Dare it’s over.’
‘You broke up with me without telling me?’
She turned her face away. ‘At least now you know. Time is running out. I want to get married soon. I can’t keep waiting till you get a job.’
‘Ruth, please give me some more time.’
‘I’m sorry, I can’t’
Was this really happening to me? ‘So who is the lucky brother.’
‘You’ll find out soon.’
I wanted to be angry and scream at her for leaving me when I needed her but instead I was calm and that annoyed me. Was it not abnormal to feel at peace when your girl just walks out on you. Why was I so relaxed? I should go after her and fight for this. The still voice from last night was back.
You want to settle for fig leaves or you want me to cloth you with thick coat.
‘No Lord. Fig leaves aren’t enough. Make me a coat according to your taste.’
Dabira and Tope were chatting and laughing in front of the church when I got to the entrance. My heart did a flip when Tope glanced at me and immediately looked down. Her shyness fascinated me.
‘Tope thanks for the other day. You were right. The story of Adam and Eve was just what I needed to read.’
My sister tickled Tope. ‘Prophetess Tope.’ Tope slapped her hand away playfully and still wouldn’t look at my face.
My sister moved closer to me. ‘Dare what’s happening? I heard Ruth and Bro Williams are engaged. They’ve even fixed a wedding date. That girl played you. No wonder she didn’t want you to tell the Pastor.’
As if on cue, Williams pulled his Matrix out of the car park and seated right beside him was Ruth. She looked away when she saw me. Again, I tried to be angry but instead I felt peaceful. I know it seem really strange but I sincerely cannot explain why I felt that way.
My sister returned to the church auditorium and I was left alone with Tope.
‘Dare, I thought of something this morning.’ Tope said, finally raising her head. While you wait for a job why not train with Elder Yemi. He is really good and handles many big installations.’
Oh my goodness! How did she know I had been battling with thoughts of seeing Elder Yemi and asking what it took to become an apprentice?’
‘Why are you staring at me like that? If it’s a bad idea, then forget it.’
‘No, it’s not that. I mean…It’s a good idea. Thank you.’
Why was I suddenly drawn to her? I should be mourning my break up and not jumping into the arms of another woman.
…Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord make coats of skins and clothed them.
The scripture again. Could this be the thick covering you have made for me? Help my heart Lord.
You won’t believe what happened when I got to Elder Yemi’s workshop the following week. He was talking to a man dressed in a t-shirt and jean and the moment he saw me, he clapped his hands and stood up.
‘God is wonderful. This is the person I’ve been telling you about.’
‘Dare, Meet Festus, one of my spiritual sons. He just got back from Netherlands.’
He shook my hands and smiled warmly. I stood there speechless
Elder Yemi returned his attention to the man. ‘Dare will fit that position. He was the administrator of my wife’s school for five years before he went for his Master program. If not for the fire incident that razed the school down and for my wife’s health, I would never have allowed him to leave. He is trust worthy and very competent.’
Right there, the man handed me his business card and for several minutes, I stared at it. The firm was one of the places I had submitted my application. I remembered because the gateman had been very mean to me and had refused to let me in. Here I was, holding the business card of the CEO.
The following day, the same gateman led me into Festus office. Our meeting took less than thirty minutes before he called the HR to get my appointment letter ready. My salary was twice what Ruth had offered me and that with an official car.
My heart pounded with excitement as I got out of the building. All I wanted to do was break the news to Tope. Should I go to the hospital where she worked or wait till after her call was over?
Two hours later, I was at the reception of the hospital requesting to see Dr Tope. They asked why I wanted to see her and I told them it was personal. There was a fine young doctor standing with the nurses as I made the enquiries. He sized me up and charged at me like I had come to take his possession. He told the nurses not to listen to me. At that moment I knew coming to the hospital was a bad idea but I waited.
After about twenty minutes of sitting down, I saw her walking to the reception with a nurse. She looked so beautiful and my body responded with desire.
A tiny warning bell went off inside my head. Didn’t Ruth just walk out of my life? Who says Tope would not do same. I knew right there that I had to get my heart straightened out first before pursuing another relationship. As I sneaked out, a nurse shouted,
‘Brother! I thought you came to see Dr Tope.’
Tope froze when she saw me. The initial shock gone, she hurried towards me.
‘Dare. What are you doing here?’
We walked out of the hospital and I told her what had happened. How I had secured a job as the assistant Operations Manager and would commence work by Monday.
I didn’t realize I had been holding her hands until I saw the doctor staring at us from the entrance. Instead of letting go of her hand, I held it firmly.
Three months later, I walked into the house tired and exhausted from work. Tope was on her way out when I opened the door. Excited, she hugged me and every trace of tiredness disappeared. I felt warm, covered and safe.
We were greatly attracted to each other, so why not get this ball rolling. That was when I popped the question right at the door.
‘Tope, will you marry me?’
My parents stopped eating and were grinning from the dining room. Tope’s face went completely red, so much for having a fair skin. She was tongue tied.
I held her gaze as I spoke. ‘I’m not in a hurry. Take your time and pray about it. I know I’ve found my coat. The one God made for me.’
Tope smiled. ‘Genesis 3:21.’
My sister covered her mouth. ‘Oh my God! Tope, that was the same scripture God gave you six months ago. Wow!’
Tope closed her eyes and a tear dropped from her eyes ‘Yes. I’ll marry you.’
My mother broke into a song. After I dropped Tope off at home, I returned to find my mother still dancing.
I know you can make beautiful fig leaves but that’s nothing compared to the coats of skin God wants to give to you.
Stop struggling to have that relationship. If it’s not moving with the rhythms of grace and looks like you are forcing it to work, stop.
If someone pushes you away from their life or treats you without much value, that may be God shutting a door for an opportunity to cloth you properly.
If you are at a point in your life where you are so frustrated and discouraged because you are yet to see a manifestation or answer to your prayer, I want you to know that God is making coats just for you.
Don’t jump the gun. Don’t settle for fig leaves. Don’t settle for less than God’s best. Faith is our currency in this new life we have come to receive. We trust him because he is faithful to do all he has promised.
…He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things… Romans 8:32.
So let me ask; will you make your fig leaves or settle for God’s coat of skin?
The choice is yours.