A few years ago while still going through bouts of depression, I decided to take a trip to Dubai. I thought while I was there I would also have myself checked out by a therapist. I was very excited about taking a break and my friend had gone the extra mile to receive me. Who doesn’t love a break? As usual, Dubai was very welcoming. Ah, I couldn’t wait to hit the malls. If there’s anything that gives me joy, it is retail therapy. I am a self-confessed shopaholic.

I could shop from 9am to 9 pm, 7 days a week and not drop. That’s how bad my addiction is. The day after I arrived in Dubai, I headed for the mall to pick up a few toiletries. Then the unbelievable happened at the check- out of the first store I visited.  “ Madam, this is a fake $100 bill.” The young male cashier said to me. “ Very funny’’ I said. And then I noticed he wasn’t smiling. Fear gripped me as my head began to pound. “Do you have another bill?” he asked calmly. It was more like the calm before the storm.

With shaking hands and mouth that had suddenly gone dry, I reached for another bill from my wallet. I said a silent prayer as I handed it to him. I watched with dilated pupils as he once again slipped the note under a fluorescent light, shook his head and said to me. “ This is fake too.”

“Ah mogbe o! Fake? They can’t be’’, I argued. “I bought them from my bank myself, I signed for them inside the bank!’’ Jesus Jesus! What’s going on and what does this mean? Ah, village people o! I sighed and waited for his fingers to press the fraud alert botton which I was sure was by the till. But instead he said: “Madam, I will let you go, but I don’t know why I am doing this. You are supposed to go to jail for currency trafficking. This is Dubai” My heart was racing so fast that I thought I was going to pass out and die; believe me that was a much preferred option than a jail term. I could just see the headlines back home; “ Genevieve Publisher, Betty Irabor, jailed for possession of fake dollar bills. I could just hear the whispers and the condemnation everywhere and the blogs making me the object of ridicule and memes while my poor children and husband are running helter skelter to negotiate bail for a non-bailable offence like currency trafficking.

“ I should go?” I asked. I needed to be sure he didn’t mean “go to jail.” “I should go? “I gesticulated with my hands as I pointed towards the exit doors.“ Yes, go’’ he said. I didn’t just go. I fled. I ran and ran then flagged down a taxi and headed home. I knew no peace in the taxi as I kept hearing sirens all the way home. I kept waiting for the taxi driver to get a call asking him to bring me to the station, I saw images of me handcuffed and dragged into a cell where I kept muttering “ I didn’t do it, I swear, I didn’t do it!’’ I couldn’t stop looking back to see if I was being followed. My imagination was on full activation till I got home.

“ You are home early what happened?’’ My friend asked. ‘‘Where are your shopping bags’’ she teased. ‘‘What happened?’’ She asked, now alarmed as I struggled for words. “I just escaped going to jail in Dubai” I said “WHAAAT?” I nodded. “Fake currency” I muttered “WHAAT?” She exclaimed again “Sis, you’re serious?” She asked. I nodded and shared my afternoon experience with her. “Oh my God” She exclaimed “ Oh my God” I repeated after her. “The boy let you go without calling the police? Sis, they don’t play here o, one small thing and they will call the police, not to talk of possession of fake currency; you’re kidding me, sis! Ah, you are blessed o and God really loves you for that boy not to have handed you over to the police immediately.”Tell me about it. I sighed. I couldn’t sleep for many nights after this incident. I felt so terribly overwhelmed as I kept imagining all the things that could have happened. Indeed God stepped in for

  1. God does love me afterall.

There were times when in the throes of depression I asked God why He abandoned

  1. I wondered if indeed God existed and questioned His love. Many nights I kept

absolutely still so I could hear Him whisper assuring words of love but God was

silent. He was far away. That day as I reflected on everything and how that boy let me go I got the assurances I needed about God’s unfailing love. I realised that most times when we think God is quiet He is actually speaking to us but we are not listening enough to hear Him.

We need to learn to be still and let His words permeate our spirit, soul and body. We need to tune our frequency to God’s frequency and leave the dial there permanently. Most times when we think God has moved from us, guess who actually moved, US. God knows his children.. He has redeemed us. He is the prodigal father because He is excessive in His love and squanders His wealth on us so we never lack.

God is so EXTRA with His Mercy and love.. and I got a taste of God’s EXTRAordinary grace that day, in that store in Dubai. Mercy said No! ***I dealt with the bank when I returned to Lagos. My lawyers helped me get my pound of flesh! The bank initially tried to deny that the dollars came from them; then we showed them papers signed by their officer they began to plead and negotiate with me. Yeye bank that sells fake currency.

 

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