On one occasion, in this column, we discussed the topic “One Day”. It was an inscription I saw on an ambulance vehicle. I said that the inscription was a clear message that one day, everyone would die and may also be conveyed home, speechless, in an ambulance vehicle. It was an apt reminder that one day, we shall stop ticking like a faulty wrist watch does. If that happens, everything we are, everything we aspire to be or do, would come to an end, may be, abrupt end. I am sure it made sense to some people. Yes! It did, because I had some reactions from people.
On another occasion, I saw another ambulance vehicle with the inscription “Uwa Bu Ahia” (The World Is A Market). I wrote about it on this column. Not only did that inscription make sense to me, I also knew the owner of the funeral outfit that operated those ambulance vehicles.
In a way, “Uwa Bu Ahia” agrees with what Shakespeare said that the world is a stage. When you play your role on the stage, you exit. In the market too, when you buy what you have come to buy, you go home. Sometimes you are forced by market inflations or high cost of materials to go back home from the market without buying what you have gone there to buy. I think I still agree, like I did then, that this world, indeed this life, is a market. Sometimes, one is not even sure what he or she buys from the market.
I had also written on “Gospel From The Mortuary’. In it, I dealt extensively with the experience we had at a mortuary where we went to remove a corpse. I talked about my own observations and experiences. I talked about the outbusts and comments of people who came with us to that mortuary.
This day, we are going to talk about a similar message as the ones I had earlier discussed. I say “similar” because they seem to carry the same message but in different ways. From all of them, one can decipher one central message, namely, that people do die and that no one knows who would die next. They also leave two all important questions, namely, “What if you are the next to die? Do heaven and hell mean anything to you?”
Quite recently, I drove through a road close to my hometown. Ironically, I was attending a funeral church service through that road. My eyes caught a sign post and what I saw on it was an inscription boldly reading “Chetakwa” (Remember). I pronounced that word aloud and the person with me told me that was a mortuary. He also told me who the proprietor of that mortuary is, someone who is closely known to me.
As we descended the hill of a stream adjoining that mortuary, the word “Chetakwa” kept repeating itself in my mind. Quite frankly, I warned myself that I must drive carefully because any mistake might land me in that mortuary. What a way to caution someone! It made me sober throughout that trip and each time I remembered it, I said to myself, “My people must hear this!”
Well, captions like the ones above are messages, true and practical lectures in life. Unfortunately, many people are not prepared to learn from them. They prefer lectures given in the classrooms or public lectures by some professors, some of who end up confusing them with “big grammar” or vocabularies.
Actually, I asked one Bishop a question one day which I am sure he did not quite like. I asked him why after coining appropriate, direct and meaningful captions or themes for their presidential addresses, they spoil the whole thing with one onomatopic jaw-breaking sub-theme that will take the sense out of the whole thing, and confuse their listeners. His answer was, “It is the modern trend to have sub-themes of themes”.
Mind you, no one is saying sub-themes may not be had. What one is saying is that if you find a theme which is straight, you do not need a confusing sub-theme to add to it. Consider something like this, “Chetakwa: The politico-metrological implications and pathological nuerogesis”. Does this make sense? What I am saying is that the message ended with “Chetakwa”. Any other thing may disrobe it of its original meaning. Let us go back before I forget!
“Chetakwa” is an Igbo word which urges us to remember. What are we suppose to remember? In the context in which it was used on that mortuary’s sign post, that word is meant to remind us of a lot of things relating to life and death, and our relationship with our creator.
We are supposed to remember that this life is not permanent but is only transient. We ought to remember that we do not have this life on our hands and can die at any time, anywhere and at any age.
Again, we ought to remember that there is life after death or life after life. This ought, more than anything else to remind us that after this life, we must stand before the throne of God’s judgment to give account of our works in this life. It says we should remember the reality of heaven and hell.
We ought to remember that many have gone and that many will still go, yet, it is not known who will go next, whether you or I ! Come to think of it, that mortuary I saw is just one out of many mortuaries scattered all over the country, and all over the world. This will give us idea of people who die daily!
The message verily reminds us that we ought to remember that those in that mortuary are human beings like you and I, who probably did not commit more sins that us. It reminds us that the fact that we are alive today is by the grace of God. It urges us to remember that the mortuary is always open and ready to accept the rich as well as the poor, the aged as well as the young, the good as well as the ugly, the male as well as the female. It also urges us to remember that in the mortuary, there is no “business” class or “economy” class.
It is my understanding that a proper appreciation of the message of that sign post will help us moderate our lives. It will make us conscious of our relationship with both God and man.
We need, for instance, to remember that this world does not belong to us but to God who created it without our assistance. So, we should remember that we are not God, are not equal to Him and cannot be compared with Him.
The message also urges us to remember to handle our lives carefully so that we do not end up in the mortuary so soon, and perhaps in hell. Many people have, unfortunately, wasted their lives. Some are Iynched or are killed in the course of committing crimes. Some have killed themselves in traffic accidents out of sheer carelessness. “Chetakwa” that life has no duplicate.
Some erroneously think they are above death while some think that if they die, the world will stop! Foul! The road to the mortuary is broad, and that is part of what that message reminds us.
If you are a bad man who thinks he is a specialist in compelling people out of this life, physically or otherwise, that message urges you to remember that one day you will end up in the same path of death which those you killed may have gone.
Brethren, I do not know when you ever paused to remember the facts that life has no duplicate and that this world is not our home. The truth is that once we die, we die. If we remember this, when we shout on people, challenge them to a fight and even threaten to deal with them, we would do so with a lot of circumspection. If we remember this, we would consider other road users as we drive along the roads. We would remember to apologize to God each time we sin against Him since He has the power to take our lives or to keep it. We would also remember to make peace with our fellow human beings since such peace is one of those little things that can take us to heaven or hell.
Remember all the people you will be living behind, as well as the good things of this life which you will leave behind if you force yourself or gate-crash into the mortuary.
Let us I have said that the existence of heaven and hell are real. What I need to add is the obvious fact that one cannot be in heaven and hell at the same time. This means that you cannot serve God and mammon the same time because one is heaven while the other is hell. Moreover, it is a matter of choice. God said He has laid before us life and death, and that we should choose one. But in His mercy, He advises that we should choose life and live (Dt.30:19-20). The only passport to life and ultimately the kingdom of God is repentance.
We must repent of our sins and truly turn away from them. This way one may be able to avoid the everlasting mortuary (hell) where all dead sinners end up. Unfortunately, the other mortuary after the earthly mortuary is hot, not cold.
Remember to keep all genuine struggles on because God has given us an assurance that time shall come when all tears shall be wiped away from the cheeks of those who weep. That time shall come when there will be end to every suffering, every struggle, every sickness, every wickedness, every war, man’s inhumanity and blackmail of man. Of course, this time will be for the benefit of those who do the will of God as they run their race on this earth. I tell you the truth too that the worst thing that can befall a man is the double tragedy of suffering here and also hereafter or continuing to weep hereafter after weeping here.
The scriptures tell us that it is not the wish of God that anyone should perish. Indeed God asks, “Do I take joy in the death of the sinner?” (Ezk.18:23;Ezk.33:11). It is rather His wish that we should all repent and live eternal life.
I am sure many of us have not seen gold before. What if you end up in heaven where the roads are said to be tarred with gold? What if you get to the golden gate and it is opened for you? What about the mansions over there? You are qualified as any other person to own one, but you must repent.
We are also told that there is no darkness there. You know the great difference between darkness and light. It means that when you repent of your sins and become acceptable unto the Lord, you will never have reason to complain again about power outages and outrageous bills for power that was never supplied to you or enjoyed by you. I want you to remember this.
Brethren, there are a lot of things to be remembered about this life, the good and the ugly! But whichever one you remember, what we are saying is that you should use that remembrance to make your life better, particularly to tailor it in such a way that you will neither end up in the mortuary so early in life or in perpetual torture in hell. Just remember that your soul is important to God!