Ehis doubled his pace and walked briskly from after school lessons towards the barracks where he lived with his parents. He recalled the NTA announcement that the match would be aired at 6pm. That’s all he talked about during the day. It was the U-20 match between Nigeria and Russia at the 1989 World Youth Championship held in Saudi Arabia. He had spoken to Chinedu his neighbour, they were the only ones that had a coloured TV in the block and it was fun to watch matches there. Also, Mr. Obi, Chinedu’s dad was legendary when it came to match analysis. He rushed quickly home, dropped his bag and hurried towards Chinedu’s house. He recalled that Chinedu’s mum always made really nice puff puff too, something to look forward to.
The match began and the first half was bloody. Half time was almost here and Nigeria was lagging by 2 goals. Nerves were frayed and everyone was desperate for a goal from the Nigerian side. Like that wasn’t bad enough, the Flying Eagles of Nigeria conceded two more goals in the 45th and 46th minutes. So at half time, Nigeria was down by 4 goals to naught. It was as though the Russians were blocking every hope of a second half recovery. This was the quarter final match here, what were the boys doing?
Everyone was edgy and comments started flying as very excited fans lost hope by the minute. How does a team come back from a 4-0 lead at half time? Mr.Obi was smiling all the while, offering extra puff puff as they watched which Ehis did not even have the nerves to accept. He was seating next to him and couldn’t help but notice how calm he was. The second half started and not much was happening. Just before the 60th minute, someone walked angrily out of the room. His exit prompted some neighbours from the flats on the next floor to leave. The tension in the room was thick and most of the kids watching from the windows had left. Nigeria was finished, no way they could come back from a 4 point lead in 30 minutes.
It appeared surreal but at that time, Mr. Obi walked calmly to wipe the TV screen. Ehis thought better of saying something because Mr. Obi was his friend’s dad whom he respected very much. Just then, 15 minutes into the second half, Nigeria responded through a brace from Christopher Ohenhen in the 61st minute. Nobody was moved. 4:1 was quite a tight scoreline. Ohenhen scored again at the 75th minute, wow!!! 15 minutes to full time and it looked like Nigeria was back in the game. At least the Flying Eagles were not coming home with an empty basket. Then. Samuel Elijah scored the third goal in the 83rd minute and at this time, all the people who left came back and some who weren’t watching earlier came when they heard the shouts. Nigeria finally had a chance, we could win this. Then before they could say ‘Jack Robinson, the captain of the Nigerian team, Nduka Ugbade completed the remarkable comeback with a goal in the 84th minute to end the game in a draw.
It was now up to extra time and then penalties and Nigeria won. Unbelievable, remarkable come back. As they rejoiced, Ehis asked Mr. Obi how he stayed so calm and he said ‘I knew we were going to win. I listened to the live broadcast over the radio earlier and I knew we won the match. But for you young men who were in school at the time, it was fun to see you sweat. I just wanted to see the match play out.’ Then he asked Ehis to think about how he would have behaved if he knew the end from the beginning. Ehis thought about the puff puff he turned down and all the angry words he threw at the players plus his frayed nerves. He realised he would not have worried so much if he knew they would win. Now Mr. Obi’s calm mien made sense.
He also recalled that all the support came only when it looked feasible that Nigeria could win, at the third goal. But Mr.Obi had stayed positive all the way. He had the end picture in mind so even the lack of positive energy in the room did not faze him..
“Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.’ PS. 37:37
This means that as we live our lives in righteousness, we live from a place of final victory. We know the end game and the end score but what we see every day is the dynamics playing out and it may not always be pretty because many are the afflictions of the righteous… But like Mr.Obi, we can live knowing that, no matter how unlikely it is at half time or even at the 60 minute mark, at the end, we win.
Think back at the biggest challenge life has thrown your way, at the peak of it, you thought it would kill you but it didn’t. Now look at what you are going through and choose to focus on the end picture. This too shall pass!!!
I don’t know your story but it’s not over till it ends and at the end it shall speak. Let’s look at the picture the word of God paints about our lives and watch unfolding events like Mr. Obi did. Everyone else has only one point of view, what they see, but for us, we have the end picture, we have seen the end result in our spirits, we are just waiting for the unfolding so we are not fazed.
Let this be your encouragement, ‘When the dust settles, we win.’
“Peace without end comes in the end to the man of God. His way may be rough, but it leads home. With believers it may rain in the morning, thunder at midday, and pour in torrents in the afternoon, but it must clear up ere the sun goes down. War may last till our last hour, but then we shall hear the last of it.”
In closing, Jeremiah 29:11 comes to mind. I love it in KJV because it says ‘expected end.’
Have a blessed weekend.