In the 1990s when I was in basic school, specifically Kotobabi Presbyterian Primary School (KPPS) and later Kotobabi ‘15’ JSS, the fairytales that were told included one Madam High Hill. While mobile phones and the Internet were almost unknown in Ghana at that time, information, usually by means of mouths of other pupils, filtered through to us about one Madam High Hill, who was so vengeful that she was ready to pounce on any pupil who went her way. I remember that while in class six in 1995, my colleagues and I had to vacate the classroom while our teacher, Mr. Marcus Agbeyome, was teaching. We left the classroom because we had heard from the school directly opposite us that Madam High Hill was on her usual move.
Later at JSS, we were told that Madam High Hill was a teacher (as to where she taught, we were never told), who was killed by a set of male twins. Accordingly, she was brutally murdered by these twins and as a result, had set herself on a revengeful spree to kill any pupil she could lay hands on. The mysteriology of Madam High Hill lingered on for a very long time. But, I think after my generation left basic school, we did not hear about the story again.
At the University of Cape Coast in 2004, there was also the belief that the statues on campus made gesticulations, with their eyes glowing at night. We were told there were occults on the campus who manifested their activities through the statues. Many students were, therefore, struck by fear and would hardly step out at night.
In 2010, we heard of an earthquake prank. But before we knew it was a prank, most Ghanaians had to court compulsory vigil, because of an impending earthquake. I still remember how my maternal aunt called us at midnight and sternly cautioned us to stay out of our room since there was an impending danger. The whole of Maamobi (and elsewhere in Ghana) went on a vigil.
The thread that weaves the above stories together is one of fear and the quest for life. As children in basic school and as young adults at the university, we had a strong sense of life. Death is something we all detest. Indeed, all the disciplines – from anthropology to zoology – are geared towards prolonging the human lifespan. The aspiration of the world today is to kill death. For many people, death is no more the natural consequence of sin. Death is rather a technical problem. Consequently, with the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) monies are invested in AI research to overcome the technical challenge of death.
As a Christian, I am convinced that try as we do, we cannot conquer death. While we may re-conceptualize death as a technical problem rather than the outflow of sin against God, we cannot take away the fact that every man or woman, if Jesus Christ tarries, will certainly one day succumb to the burial mat. Every day in our lives draws us closer to eternity – either damnation or bliss! This is because we grow in weakness, not in strength.
But the question basically is why are we so considered about prolonging our lives on earth. The answer is found in Ecclesiastics 3:11, where God informs us that He has placed eternity in our soul. Many scholars have captured this differently, but often pointing to the same impeccable truth. For example, St. Augustine of Hippo said that ‘You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”' Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher and mathematician, said “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.”
It is the God-shaped vacuum in us that explains why we are never satisfied with anything material. It is also that same god-shaped vacuum in us that predisposes us to search for eternity. Unfortunately, we are searching for eternity in material things. But the reality is that the God-shaped vacuum or eternity in our heart cannot be filled by anything material. It is such that there is no way any of us could take solace in our achieved statuses to satisfy that quest. In economics, we are told that our needs are insatiable. The reason for this is not necessarily the scarcity of resources, as it is about eternity in our heart. The eternity in our hearts reminds us that we were not created to die. We were created to live with God forever.
Sin interrupted our relationship with God. It is for this reason that God in His mercy decided to restore us to Himself. He did this by sending His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to come and redeem us from the bondage of sin, and the Holy Spirit to seal our redemption. The bondage of sin makes all of us candidates of eternal damnation. God saving us is, therefore, a pure act of grace and mercy. We do not deserve it. We do nothing to complement God’s redemptive plan. Some may say that by believing, we are complementing God. But that is a poor theology. The Bible says that for us to even believe and do God’s will is the pure grace of God (Philippians 2:12-13).
God saving us is from love. His love is without a ‘because of’. In fact, the Bible categorically says that while we were still sinners, Jesus Christ died for us. While our sinful nature disposes us to hate God, God still loved us (Romans 5:8). In other words, if we love God, it is because He made it possible for us to love Him. If we love God, it is because He conquered our natural rebelliousness against Him. He conquered our resistance to His will. He conquered our sinful will. He made it possible for us to love Him (I John 4:19).
Dear reader, the danger is looming. Very soon, you will succumb to the burial mat. As of now, you may want to think that death is nothing, but extinction. You may want to say with Epicurus, the Greek philosopher, that ‘If I am alive, I am not dead. If I am dead, I am not alive.' You may want to even say with the founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy that death is an illusion. You may perhaps even want to think with the Eastern mystics that death is a state of the mind. More so, you may want to agree with humanist-scientists that death is a technical problem.
Whatever your position is, death is real. Death is an existential reality. It is like the existence of the Queen of England. You may not have visited the Queen at Buckingham Palace in England to ascertain her existence. But your belief about whether she exists or not does not rule out the fact that the Queen of England is an existential and a real human being. You may want to also deny that there is the sun. But your denial does not keep the sun away from shinning. To state it bluntly, your belief about the hereafter does not neutralize the fact that there is eternal damnation waiting for unrepentant souls. Your subjective belief about reality is inconsequential when it comes to what God says.
God does not take delight in the destruction of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:32). He is still waiting for all of us to come home. He is waiting for me. He is waiting for you. He is waiting for all of us. He is pleading with us to stay away from eternal damnation. He is interested in us desiring in Him. He is informing us that anything we cling to will cease to exist. He is telling you to run away from the looming danger. O, my brother and sister, won't you let God's bosom be your pillow? Won't you take refuge in the Rock of Ages? It is not wrong to work for success in life, but it is a truism that at the sound of the trumpet, every achieved status will mean nothing to us. Your marriage, certificate, position, wealth, health and so on will mean nothing when the trumpet sounds. What will matter is your relationship with Jesus Christ.
It is my prayer that you consider the looming danger. It is not a prank like the earthquake in 2010; it is not a fairytale like Madam High Hill in the 1990s, and it is certainly not the tale about the gesticulations of the statues at the University of Cape Coast. It is real.
There is danger looming.
I pray that you will choose life and live for Jesus Christ today.
Charles Prempeh ([email protected]), African University College of Communications, Accra
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."