It was a Saturday, I had just recovered from an illness, was about to embark on an interstate journey, had just left the vehicle park with the intention of withdrawing some money from a cash machine to fund the journey, and now stood before the machine – the only one in sight – which displayed “out of service”.
Rainbows are beautiful and subtle, and often come after the rain, like sweet delight after some pain. Many times, miracles happen like rainbows. If you look carefully, you’ll find them. And on this day, I found a miracle.
Soon after I arrived at the park, I asked for a nearby ATM from which I could withdraw cash. “Ti e ba lo seyin bayi, ee ri ATM kan,” I was directed to one just across the road which ran at the back of the park. “Ese. Ejo mo mbo nsi” was my response to the ‘conductor’ of the vehicle who’d helped me out with the directions. “Thanks. Please, I’ll be right back” I’d responded alike in what is, for the present, arguably my third favorite language.
Crossing the road towards the Eco bank cash machine, I watched the queue before it disperse and everyone walk away. Why? ‘No network,’ was the response. I guess I never gave much thought to the possibility of this happening while I made my itinerancy for the day. Usually, seeing people move away from the machine would cause me to do the same and seek an alternative but today was no usual day. Seeing the small crowd disperse only served to encourage me to walk towards it. May we never lose our wonder, we pray. This day, I kept every bit of mine.
At first I hoped it would be a case of service just getting restored as I stepped to the machine, leaving me at the front of a new queue to be formed. But this wasn’t to be the case. The status of the machine remained the same as I stepped towards it. I walked up to the machine, my only luggage hanging over my shoulders and behind my back, with my MasterCard close by in readiness for any swift action, which didn’t seem to be the case too.
Then I did something that would seem to some: I laid a hand on the machine and said: “Father, please make it work. Machine, please get back online so I can do what I need and head on home.”
Silence. No whirling sound from the machine, no invitation to insert my card.
I prayed again “Machine, please work. I need you to.” Again, silence.
My luggage was a bit weighty so I took it down, placed it on the tiled floor, around the machine and attempted the prayer for the third time.
While I did all this, another had begun gathering behind me, probably encouraged by the solitary figure they saw standing by the machine.
I continued my ritual of speaking to the machine; only now, with the increasing number of people around, I did so less conspicuously so I am not regarded as being mad. So, I stepped a bit to the side of the machine, placed my hand on its frame as if I used it as a form of support, and whispered the prayers on. I guess I didn’t reflect as much faith as I thought I had.
Soon, a young man walked up and stood with me. He looked much like someone I could converse with, in simple English. As much as I love the Yoruba language, I’m not as fluent as I wish were. I’m usually not quick to talk to strangers but seeing how time was passing and I had a journey to embark on, I had to engage this friend for a bit:
“Hello please, do you know if there are other ATM machines or banks around?”
“Yes, there are a few banks clustered somewhere down that road,” he responded, much to my appreciation.
“How far are they from here please?”
“Not too far away. It’ll take you about 15 minutes on foot but if you choose to use a commercial motorcycle, it’ll take far less but would cost you about 50 Naira. I do not intend spending 50 Naira on a motorcycle so I’m currently thinking of walking down.”
“Yeah, I would have easily decided to walk down with you, but my luggage’s a bit heavy and would make doing so difficult. So I’ll guess I’ll just wait a bit more, see what happens next then figure what to do. But thanks anyway.”
He walked away not so long after this, but I stood still, close to the machine, muttering at low volumes words only discernible by me and the One I believed listened.
A couple of people came, found out the machine was out of service, and immediately left. Others who had been standing for a while, like the young man I’d talked with moments before, also left. My wait at the machine had lasted about 30 minutes, maybe more. And soon I began considering leaving for other banks but had a few reflections and stayed back.
I had begun believing a bit more in my prayers of late, more faith seemed to be authored in my heart and I thought to put these into practice. I waited with a belief I couldn’t seem to shake off somewhat expecting that something would happen, that the machine would come back on. I chose to remain at the machine till it worked or till I was certain that Father wanted me to leave for the other banks or postpone my journey till the another day. And since none of these seemed to be happening, I prayed again, “Father, I believe You hear me and care for me. It takes nothing for you to get this thing to work. I don’t care who needs to correct what needs to be corrected. I just do not want to go through the stress of moving this bag over a long distance. Is that too much to ask?” The machine still made no change but I believed in these prayers and so didn’t want them going to waste by my deciding to leave. So I waited.
And it paid off.
Soon, another young fellow joined us at the machine. He felt different from the moment he arrived. First he greeted everyone with a courteous ‘good afternoon’. Then he approached one the men who stood with me by the machine and asked, “Sir, please how much do you plan on withdrawing?”
“Sorry, I don’t see how that concerns you. Why do you ask?”
“Well, thing is, I am a student who needs to pay his fees today. I need to deposit this money into my account so I can pay online but as it stands, banks do not open on Saturdays and I can’t get to deposit. I simply need someone who is willing to transfer to my account and whom I’ll give cash in return.”
I listened in attentively on this conversation, and from the moment he began explaining himself I had the assurance that this was divinely orchestrated. Father had just come through.
Even though he didn’t come to me first when he arrived, I was the first to agree to his proposition. I verified his account details, authorized the transfer from my account to his, and got a text message notification on my phone regarding the transfer. And even when he did not get a corresponding notification on his phone, he released the cash, took my phone number so he could let me know if issues arose or when he got notified by his bank of the transaction. So much trust from a stranger I’d say. But God is that beautiful in His ways.
I walked away from the machine that day fulfilled and with the confirmation of a few things Father had taught me lately; one of which is the fact that God always responds to our prayers, not just in ways we expect.
These events seemed a lot more perfect when I returned to the park and realized that the same vehicle that I had left to get some cash still remained, waiting to be filled.
These happenings don’t necessarily prove that my Father is the One True God, although I am convinced He is. One thing it does prove though is that He listens, sees and cares for me and my every need. Do you believe He does care the same for you? Do you hear Him speak? Are you as confident in Him as to wait for Him alone without a plan B? Are you?