I laughed and laughed non-stop for several minutes. When I finally stopped, I was exhausted.
In February 1996, the Lord gave me a dream while on a trip abroad. In the dream, I was at a funeral but could not tell who was being buried. So I pushed people aside in order to find out who it was.
When I got to the front, laid out in the coffin was my “guardian:” T.S.B. Aribisala. I shouted: “No. But it is his birthday!” Then I woke up.
Sickness not unto death
25th of June, 1996 would be his eightieth birthday, and we were planning to have a big thanksgiving party for him. This called for serious prayers. I stared down the devil and took spiritual authority: “You cannot take his life,” I insisted. “You cannot steal our joy.” After a while, I felt some release, convinced that, with the advantage of inside information, I had scuttled the plans of the devil.
I did not give the matter much thought thereafter. But on 10th June, 1996, I got a phone-call from my brother Biodun. “The old man is very sick,” he said matter-of-factly, “you better go and see him because I don’t think he is going to make it.”
I smiled knowingly to myself. I assured Biodun that nothing would happen to him. Nevertheless, I resolved to go to Ibadan to see him.
The next day, the Lord woke me up with a scripture. He said: “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4).
I was overjoyed on hearing this. It was raining cats and dogs, so I decided I was not even going to Ibadan again that day given the weather condition. When I went the next day, T.S.B. was already much recovered. He was still bedridden, but was sitting up and having something to eat.
Enigmatic birthday present
I spent the entire day with him. My mother maintained that, under the circumstances, the birthday party should be cancelled. But I would have none of that. “The devil doesn’t want us to have it, which is why this phony sickness came about. For that very reason, we are going to have it,” I insisted. I left Ibadan in good spirits and returned to Lagos.
On 15th June, 1996, I received an “inner witness” of the Holy Spirit that I should go to Ibadan. It took me a while to respond to it. Ibadan is one hundred kilometers away from Lagos, so it is not a trip easily made on the spur of the moment. When I finally got there, my sister-in-law met me at the door. “Papa is gone,” she said.
I did not quite understand her. I thought maybe he had gone out. Then I discovered that he passed away that very day. “But it is his birthday!” T.S.B. passed away ten days to his eightieth birthday.
I became distraught. So what was the point of the revelation I received in Austria? What was the use of my fervent prayers against the spirit of death? Why did the Lord tell me the sickness was not unto death? And yet, he still passed away on the eve of his birthday.
Sickness unto resurrection
After much agonising, I sat down with the Lord to review the situation. I recalled that God had given me advance notice. That means, like Abraham, I am God’s friend.
The timing of T.S.B.’s death was also merciful. Had he died after his birthday party, we would have been faced with double expenditure. The timing meant we were able to use the money saved for the birthday for his funeral. Indeed, the plans for the birthday had enabled us to save for the funeral.
Then I discovered that, after Jesus observed that Lazarus’ sickness was not unto death but unto the glory of God, Lazarus actually died. Then Jesus raised him from the dead. Therefore, I realised belatedly that what the Lord meant was that he would raise T.S.B. from the dead to eternal life.
How carnal I had been, praying against an eighty year-old man returning back to his Father in glory. Indeed, God turns man back into dust and says: “Return, O children of men” (Psalm 90:3).
Anointed with laughter
When I came to this realisation, I was filled with joy so overwhelming, I suddenly started laughing. Like Sarah, it was the Lord who put the laughter in my mouth, so it was out of my control (Genesis 21:6). I laughed and laughed non-stop for several minutes. When I finally stopped, I was exhausted.
“When the LORD brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing” (Psalm 126:1-2).