The congregation was seated quietly and listening to the speaker attentively. Mr. Fiabge walked into the Church and took a seat in the back. He realized almost immediately that there was something very different with the way they went about things. He was intrigued at how an usher had pleasantly welcomed and showed him to a seat. He settled for the back seat because he did not intend to stay for long. He looked at the Speaker again and was impressed with the way he was dressed and how he carried himself.
“Now that we understand what marriage is, one may ask, What are the Keys to a lasting Marriage? When God initiated marriage between the first couple– Adam and Eve, he did not indicate that the union would be a temporal one. Instead he meant it to last forever. How do we know this? Please take your Bibles and turn to Genesis Chapter 2, verse 24. Reads–
“That is why a man will leave his father and his mother and he must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh.” What do we have today? When you go to our Law courts, divorce cases are topping the list of cases waiting to be heard. People get married and within seventy-two hours, they are already on the road to a permanent separation. This makes people wonder if they can make their marriages last. Yes–we can have a lasting marriage.! The Bible identifies two factors or keys to a lasting marriage. The first key is love. Love is defined as “having a strong affection or deep tender feelings for someone.” The Bible at least mentions four kinds of love—
1)One that exists between close friends.
2) One that grows between family members.
3)Another that one can have for a member of the opposite sex, i.e. romantic love and last but not the least
4)One that we have for God. i.e. Agape love. When married couples cultivate such love of God and of each other, they can be sure that their marriage will last and they will be happy. Let’s read 1 Corinthians 13: 8. Reads.
“Love never fails.” So, how can couples cultivate this kind of love? We can cultivate this kind of love by, * reading God’s word–The Bible– together and talking about it. * attending Christian meetings regularly and participating at such meetings * praying for God’s help.
The second key that the Bible identifies is Respect. Respect is defined as “giving consideration to others, honouring them.” Do we honour our spouses? Do we respect them? If we do, we would listen to their opinions and act on them. If we do, we wouldn’t cheat on them with other men or women. If we do, we wouldn’t insult them no matter how angry we are. If we do, we wouldn’t lie to them no matter what happened. If we put the interests of our mates first, we will enjoy a lasting marriage. Yes, there will be ups and downs in every marriage because we are all imperfect but whether we allow those to break us or make us is what matters.
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We can only overcome our marital problems if we submit to God’s thinking and base our relationship with our mates on principled love and respect for one another. When we are able to cultivate principled love for our mates and respect them unconditionally, we can be sure that our marriages will last and we will be very happy. Let us therefore honour and respect not only each other but also God, the Originator of marriage. Thank you.
The Speaker left the platform amidst a deafening applause from the congregation. The Chairman, Elder Asare, whom Mr. Fiagbe recognized as the one who came to his house to plead on Esenam’s behalf, took over and asked the congregation to stand up for the closing song and prayer.
Afterwards Esenam walked over to the Speaker, Elder Annan and was congratulating him when she felt a pat on the shoulder from behind. She turned. She was stunned and speechless for a moment. “Dad? I’m so glad to see you.” She shouted and hugged him tightly. Mr. Fiagbe did not fight back but held on to her for a while. He realized just how much he had missed her. He felt a little uncomfortable when he saw that all eyes were on them. For a moment all his hard-heartedness vanished. Boat came up from behind and teased them about a happy reunion. Mr. Fiagbe broke from the embrace and asked to see Esenam privately. Boat exchanged worried looks with Esenam but she just shrugged and smiled as if she had just won the lottery. Esenam stepped outside with her Dad. He brought out the letter.
“This came for you. I opened and read it because it was from your Department at the University. I think it needs your immediate attention.”
“Thank you, Dad, for taking the trouble to bring it to me. I really appreciate it.” Mr. Fiagbe congratulated Esenam for her success in the exam and turned to leave as soon as he handed the letter and results slip to her. He admitted he was glad to see her. She had grown a bit taller and prettier than he remembered. She seemed happy and content too. He also noticed she had lost some weight and felt a sudden bout of remorse, but it vanished quickly. The bottom line was he had missed her. He wished he could just take her in his arms and tell her he still loved her. She was still his favourite baby girl. He, however, believed that once he gave in, it would be a precedence for all the others. Esenam had blatantly disobeyed him and he was not ready to let it go. He hoped she would come to her senses and come back to apologize but she had done no such thing and that hurts him so much.
He heard Esenam call out his name and stopped halfway to where his car was parked. Esenam had followed him.
“Is there no way you can understand my actions and allow me back to the house? It’s not easy living apart from all of you, Daddy. I really miss home. I miss you more.” Esenam said tearfully. Mr. Fiagbe was touched but he would not give in. Where he came from, children were supposed to do as they were told especially when their happiness was at stake. He still believed Esenam was making a big mistake with Akwasi.
“The choice is yours, Esenam. I still stand by my word. You can only come back when you stop associating with these people and you go back with Akwasi. I don’t want you to ever think that I hate you. I just want what’s best for you. Do me a favour, let your Mom know you’ve received the letter.” He added and continued to the car.
Tears streamed down Esenam’s face in gushes. Why was it so difficult for her Dad to understand her? This was something she wanted to do. Something she was very passionate about. Why was God allowing her to suffer so much? Esenam called out his name again but he did not stop but looked back. “I love you, Dad.” She shouted. Mr. Fiagbe couldn’t bear to look Esenam in the eye. Her desperation was written all over her face. He knew if he stayed a minute longer, he would take her back into the house. He hurriedly got in his car, reversed and sped off. Esenam looked at the letter in her hand and walked to the roadside to hail a taxi. She read the contents of the letter amid tears on her way back to her small apartment.