They strolled down to the bus stop together munching their snacks, each one deeply engrossed in his own thoughts. They were next door neighbours who attended the same school, so it was inevitable they would become best friends.
Olu was slightly taller and broader than his friend Dele and would often protect him from the occasional bully in class, but today had been quite different, for Olu had been the one who had been bullied by two bullies who had ganged up against him much to the delight of most of their classmates.
He had finally been rescued by the teacher who came running towards them to stop the bullies. It had all happened during recess. It was the reason why Dele had shared his snacks with Olu, for they had taken Olu’s snacks away from him and wolfed it down in a jiffy.
Of course the bullies had been severely punished by the teacher…but nothing could be done about Olu’s snacks. Without hesitation, Dele had handed over his own snacks to Olu though he was very hungry. Olu was in tears and had at first refused the kind gesture, but Dele had insisted… It was a way for him to show his appreciation finally.
Both boys were thirteen years of age and came from rather poor backgrounds but were brave and tough.
Dele however, lived in a world quite unknown to Olu. His mother had brought him up on stories from the bible about how Elijah had outrun the chariots of Ahab and how David and his friends took on an entire army. He had listened with rapt attention to the story of Samson and his great strength.
His young mind had boggled with such images of supernatural strength and ability that one night on his twelfth birthday, he had knelt beside his bed and asked God fervently to give him a birthday gift, and what he wanted was to be as strong as Samson was.
But he had been so disappointed the following morning and several mornings after that when he had tried to lift chairs and other heavy things around the house…no he certainly hadn’t been given the strength of an ordinary teenager let alone the strength of Samson.
He had felt very disappointed and wondered if God actually answered his bed time prayers like his mum and grand mum often claimed, but he had never told anyone about his secret birthday request to God, not even Dele his best friend.
But today, something had happened…something rather puzzling. While the bullies were punching Dele, one of them suddenly tried to hit him on the eye and in a flash Olu’s hand had reached out to block him.
It had all happened so fast and so suddenly, but the puzzling thing about it was that Dele did not remember moving his hand to block the hand of the bully. The bully had been hit so hard on the arm by Dele’s hand that he had yelled in pain.
He too had been mystified and could not identify the person who had punched him in the arm, it had all happened so fast!
Dele knew he had been the one, but didn’t know how he could have moved his hand so fast.
“That punch you gave him on the arm was super!” commented Olu, happily munching the snacks his friend had willingly given him as they entered a bus for the short ride home.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t remember punching him on the arm,” replied Dele.
“Oh, but I saw you. It happened so fast. Where did you learn to punch like that…so fast and so hard?” Olu chuckled, he was very pleased with his friend who had for once come to his rescue just before the teacher had arrived.
Then something clicked in Dele’s mind and his heart beat faster. It was on the tip of his tongue to tell Olu about his secret birthday request from God on his twelfth birthday, but he restrained himself from asking.
The bus dropped them right in front of the road leading to their homes and sped off.
Later that night, Dele took out his bible and reread the story of Samson. Samson had not been fast, he had been strong. It had been Elijah who had been fast.
“God, was it you who used my hand to punch that fellow?” breathed Dele in prayer, not daring to raise his voice. He had earlier worshipped God and thanked him for not allowing his best friend to be hurt by those bullies.
He hadn’t really expected an answer from God especially since God hadn’t answered his secret request for his unusual birthday gift.
His mother came in to read the bible with him and to turn off the lights. They slept together in the same small room.
Ever since Dele’s father had died in a car accident, it had been his mother who had struggled to send him to school.
Dele loved his mother and had vowed to himself that one day he would make her happy and comfortable and she would never need to work ever again.
It was the reason why he never joked around with his studies. Later when she had read the bible to him and answered his questions, she would turn off the lights and go back to work in the small living room where she prepared food for sale for the workers in the surrounding areas.
Dele never knew when she finally came to bed…he would be fast asleep, but would always wake up in his mother’s warm embrace as she kissed him awake to get ready for school.
“Mummy, something happened in school today,” began Dele earnestly.
“Tell me about it,” responded his mother as she put her arm around him lovingly.
“Olu was bullied by some boys today and just as one of them tried to punch him in the eye, my hand reached out very fast and hit the boy’s hand away. I don’t remember even raising my hand let alone punching him. It all happened so fast, but I knew I was the one who punched his hand away. Can you explain it to me mummy?”
“Hmmm…I’m not sure I can Dele, but my guess is that God used you to prevent what could have been serious damage to Olu’s eye. But I will tell you something else…something I have kept from you for a very long time but now I feel it is the right time to tell you.”
“Go ahead mummy,” said Dele eagerly, his eyes shining in anticipation of the story.
“Almost a year ago, I had a strange dream. There was an old man whose face I couldn’t see, and he was talking to me. I was down on my knees listening to him. He told me my son would grow up to be a Saver of Lives. He said you had asked him for a birthday gift and he had given it to you, but you couldn’t use it without his help and power and that one day you would find yourself doing things beyond your power and ability. He said when the time was right, I would be able to tell you that he had answered your prayer from the first night that you had asked.”
“He also told me to tell you that sometimes, prayers have specific time frames when they would be answered. If for instance you ask me to buy you a car, even if I had the money I wouldn’t, because you aren’t old enough to drive a car. Yet it doesn’t mean I won’t buy you the car when the time is right. So have I answered your question?”
Dele wasn’t able to answer…he was in tears and had buried his face in his mother’s bosom.
The God that had given Samson his great strength and Elijah his great speed had also answered his prayers and given him both strength and speed. He had answered his prayers but he didn’t know it until when the time was right…
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