5 – Eternal Flame

“I really don’t understand why this guy is torturing himself like that,” Theo said to Shane. “It’s so obvious he’s suffering in his predicament, yet he won’t free himself.”

“Hmm, I wonder myself,” Shane responded. “He’s in bondage. He can easily free himself – nobody will chew him up for it – but he’s keeping himself trapped. I just don’t know what’s wrong with him.”

“Ah, well, we’re almost there. Hopefully, we’ll get an answer from him, and if possible, see if we can talk to him, ‘cause honestly man, this is ridiculous.”

Ten minutes later, as the two continued to talk about the situation at hand, they arrived at the home of their friend, Davidson. They casually walked over to the door and knocked.

A smiling Davidson was at the door, already aware of their coming. He welcomed them heartily and let them in, teasing them as they entered. Given the fact that he hadn’t seen these two for the past three months, it was no surprise he was quite excited to see them, with whom he had been friends for a very long time.

They made themselves comfortable, and as Davidson went to the kitchen to get them drinks, they briefly looked around the living room.

Pictures of Davidson and his beautiful bride, Mercy, were all around. Theo shook his head. “Look at how happy he and Lari were then,” he said in a low voice.

Shane nodded. “Now it’s all down the drain since the accident. It’s so obvious the smile on his face is forced. He’s so unhappy, yet he’s locked himself to the situation. We really ought to talk some sense into him.”

“Word.” He straightened up as Davidson entered with the drinks. They were served and he sat with them, striking up a conversation. For the next thirty minutes, they all reminisced on their university days and all the things they did. They hadn’t been the crazy types who did silly stuff in school; they went all out for Christ. Many people knew them for their heavy exploits, leading revivals and all. Great times.

As they laughed over one funny incident they went through, Theo took the chance and interjected, “Oh, Dave, by the way, how’s the wifey?”

“Oh, like I mentioned earlier, she’s resting. It’s not been easy for her at all, but now everything’s alright,” Daniel responded.

Theo and Shane then looked at each other, pity etched on their faces. Daniel was confused for a moment. Before he could ask what the sudden silence was for, Shane asked, “Davidson, you’re not a happy man, are you?”

Davidson looked incredulous. “What the hell are you talking about?”

Theo started. “Davidson, we’ve known you for ages. We know you always wanted a great marriage; a beautiful wife and lovely children. You often mentioned the lovely things you’d want to do with them. and when you and Mercy got married, we were overjoyed, because we felt your dreams had finally come true, especially considering how chaste you kept yourself.

“But the accident has changed everything. I was devastated to hear that she was about 2 months pregnant when it happened. Now with what you told me the last time we spoke, she’s lost her ability to walk for good, and not only did she lose the baby, but now she’s never gonna have children. This isn’t what you wanted. Why are you torturing yourself?”

Davidson looked stunned. “Ummmm… what exactly are you trying to imply?”

Shane came in. “All we’re trying to say is, reconsider your stance, man. You’re going through a torturous time dealing with an… excuse me to say, invalid wife. Just back out. You need to live your life, man. Don’t do this to yourself. It’s not right.”

Davidson looked down at the floor and shook his head. He took in a few deep breaths, then looked up at them. “I’ve known you guys for a long time as well. But in a matter of minutes, you’ve just showed me something I never knew. You guys don’t know anything about marriage.”

The two opened their mouths to protest, but Davidson put up his hand to silence them. “Listen, guys, listen. Now, before Mercy and I got married, our counsellor taught us some real hard truth about marriage. You see, marriage isn’t just about your personal happiness and all; it’s more or less a ministry. He mentioned how people don’t really pay proper attention to what’s in Ephesians 5 and hit hard on it.”

“Marriage, my dear friends, is not that ‘happily ever after’ nonsense we see on TV and all. It’s deeper than that. It’s a ministry where we’re displaying what the real Marriage is all about. And by the real one, I’m referring to that between Jesus and the Church.”

“Yeah, we know of that. It’s all true,” Theo cut in. “But aren’t you unhappy with this situation?”

Davidson looked at him incredulously. “Of course it’s hard. Each day I wish to God that it was all just a dream; that Mercy would be able to walk, and we’d have had our baby. But this is the cold, hard reality. And I am NOT going to walk out on her. No way!”

He sprung up, starting to breathe hard. He was getting angry and had to calm himself down. The two decided to be quiet for a moment; they knew he was heating up and didn’t want to spark him off.

He gestured to Shane. “Shane, do you remember saying back then that love is never easy?”

Shane nodded. “Of course, it isn’t.”

“Good! Loving Mercy has not been easy since the accident. But I look at Christ as the example. You know who His bride is? A bunch of sinful beings, undeserving to even be within ten feet of Him. Yet He showed incredible love by laying down His life for us. That’s love, and that’s what I’m aiming to do! When I told her ‘for better or for worse’ at the altar, I meant every word. And since the accident, I can say I love her more than I ever did. I’m laying down my life for her, just like Christ did for His church.”

His friends were silent. They had really planned to come around and talk some ‘sense’ into him, but he had successfully turned the tables on them.

Daniel wasn’t done. “I’ve always hated that new trend in some churches where they twist the vows to make it seem like marriage should be perfect. It’s still ‘for better or for worse’, not ‘for better and for best’. Thank God our counsellor warned us against such unrealistic rubbish. If loving your spouse was that easy, Christ would never have died for us. I’ve denied myself so much, but when I see Mercy’s smile, her eyes full of glee, the joy I’ve placed within her heart by sticking with her through thick and thin, I know it’s worth it. This is a commitment I made to her for life, an eternal flame I lit with her, and I’ll die keeping it!”

Theo and Shane had been floored. All the points they had put down mentally before were now dashed. They had their faces in their palms, totally struck by this display of real love.

Daniel walked to them, and squatting, placed both hands on each of their shoulders. “Guys, I know you have my interest at heart. I appreciate that. But remember how we used to tear up campus, letting everybody know the Good News?”

Theo raised his head and with a morose expression on his face, said quietly, “Impossible to forget those days, man.”

Daniel smiled. “Exactly. We let them know the truth. And that’s what I’m living right now. I might not be happy denying myself, but there’s no greater joy in dying to myself for the love of God and others. Just like how Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so am I loving Mercy and giving myself up for her. This is love!”

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