God Is by My Side
By Guozi, USA
I was born into a Christian family, and when I was one year old, my mom accepted the new work of the Lord Jesus returned—Almighty God—but my grandma was strongly opposed. I remember when I was little, her most frequent words to me were: “If you don’t feel well or you can’t do your homework, just pray to the Lord Jesus. He’ll give you intelligence and wisdom; He’ll look after your safety.” My mom, though, would often tell me: “God created this world and He created mankind. He’s always by our sides. Remember to pray to Almighty God when you encounter an issue and He will care for and protect you.” These two different voices frequently rang in my ears. I once asked my mom uncertainly: “Grandma wants me to pray to the Lord Jesus and you want me to pray to Almighty God. Who should I listen to?” She said: “Actually, the Lord Jesus and Almighty God are the same God. It’s just that the names God took on and the work He’s done are different because the ages are different. The Lord Jesus did the work of the Age of Grace, and Almighty God does the work of the Age of Kingdom. He changes the way He works in every age, and He also changes His name. But no matter how His name and His work change, His essence doesn’t change. Just like today you’re wearing red to go to school and tomorrow you’ll wear blue to go to the restaurant—even though you’re wearing different clothing, going to different places, and doing different things, you’re still you. But when God’s new era arrives we have to keep up with His new work. That’s why we should pray to Almighty God now.” Even though I heard my mom’s explanation, I was still very perplexed in my heart and still had a somewhat doubtful attitude toward Almighty God’s new work.
In August 2014, I came to the United States to study abroad. My mom also came after a few months and got in touch with The Church of Almighty God in the US. It was from that time on that I started to experience the existence of Almighty God, bit by bit. When I had just arrived in the US for my studies, I found it really difficult to adapt to life here, particularly living in someone else’s home on my own. I’m really timid, so I was afraid to sleep alone. My mom told me: “We must believe that God’s authority is unmatched; Satan and the demons are also under His authority, so when you’re scared at night just pray to God. As long as you have God in your heart, Satan can’t get near you.” Every time I heard her fellowship I felt much more at peace, at ease in my heart.
In December 2015 I started attending gatherings, but since I still didn’t have much experience in my faith, it was a strain for me in gatherings quite a bit of the time. I didn’t have my own practical experience of God’s genuine existence until later, after going through a couple of things, and then I verified from within my heart that Almighty God is the one true God, and He is always by my side.
It was a Friday afternoon and I just had one art class left before I was done and could go home. A classmate suddenly said to me: “Let’s skip our last class and go downtown to have some food and window-shop. I heard there’s a new seafood restaurant that’s really good.” Hearing this, I was tempted—I hadn’t had anything to eat for lunch and I was really hungry. My stomach was growling, egging me on, almost as if it was pushing me to go to the seafood restaurant. But I was still hesitant. I’d never skipped a class—what if I was caught? But then I thought: Xiao Li, a student in our class, skipped even important classes and had done it so many times without being found out, so I wouldn’t be caught either. So, I agreed to go with my classmate and asked my art teacher to excuse my absence, saying that I had to go to the doctor that afternoon and needed to leave early. Then my classmate and I took a taxi downtown to window-shop and eat, and I didn’t get home until eight or nine that evening. After getting back, I got an email from a teacher in charge of international students asking me to bring documentation from my visit to the doctor in the next class day. Seeing that, I panicked, and rushed to discuss it with classmates. One said: “You don’t have to give the teacher any documentation. That’s private.” I felt that what she said was right, but since I was in the wrong in this matter, I felt embarrassed to indignantly argue on my own behalf. So then I asked the auntie who was my landlord to help me think of something to do. She told me to go to the supervisor and admit my error. Hearing what she said, my heart was tied up in knots—I didn’t know if I should admit fault or continue with my deception. I tossed and turned that night, unable to sleep. I wanted to go admit my fault, but I was afraid of what my teacher and classmates would think of me, that the positive image I usually maintained would be destroyed in the blink of an eye. In the midst of my pain, I came before God in prayer and seeking, and then saw this passage of God’s words: “But deceitful people do not act this way. They live based on the philosophy of Satan and their deceitful nature and substance. They have to be cautious in everything they do lest others have something on them; in everything they do, they have to use their own methods, and their own deceitful and crooked manipulation, to cover up their true face, for fear that sooner or later they’ll give themselves away—and when they do show their true colors, they try to turn things around. When they try to turn things around, there are times when it’s not so easy, and when they can’t, they start getting anxious. They’re afraid that others will see through them; when that happens, they feel they’ve shamed themselves, and then they have to think of ways to say something to retrieve the situation. … In their minds, they’re always thinking about how to prevent you misunderstanding them. And so they go over and over it in their head, and bring it up in discussions with others. They’re always putting on a front, so that you don’t think they’re that kind of person, or you don’t think that’s what they meant, so that you think they’re good” (“To Be an Honest Person, You Should Lay Yourself Open to Others” in Records of Christ’s Talks). One after another, God’s words exposed my inner thinking, just like a light had suddenly shone on the shadow side of my heart, exposing it to the light, leaving me terribly ashamed and with nowhere to hide. It’s true! I skipped class and lied, and after the fact not only did I not take the initiative to admit my error, but I racked my brains to think of a way to cover up for my lie, to cover up the truth. I didn’t feel the slightest guilt or remorse. I even felt that the teacher in charge of international students should mind his own business. Oh! That kind of behavior was me rebelling against God; it disgusts God! Not a one of my thoughts or deeds was remotely in accord with God’s requirements—how could I be a person of faith? No, I couldn’t act according to nonbelievers’ solutions to problems. I had to repent to God and act according to His requirements. I had to speak honestly, and be an honest person.
So, the next class day I went to the teacher and admitted my error of skipping class. I was shocked when the teacher in charge didn’t criticize me at all, but instead said I was very honest and that it was good to be able to admit to a mistake! But there still had to be a punishment for skipping class, so the teacher gave me detention for one class period after classes let out, so that I could think about my mistake. Although I received a very small punishment for skipping class and lying, what I experienced was God’s protection for me. In a later gathering, I shared this in fellowship with my sister. After hearing this, she read this passage of God’s words for me: “If you believe in God’s rule, then you have to believe that the things that happen every day, be they good or bad, are not random occurrences. It is not that someone is intentionally hard on you or targeting you; it is actually all arranged and orchestrated by God. What does God orchestrate these things for? It is not to reveal your shortcomings for everyone to see or to expose you; exposing you is not the end goal. The end goal is to perfect you and save you. How does God do that? Firstly, He makes you aware of your own corrupt disposition, your nature and essence, your shortcomings, and what you lack. Only by understanding these things in your heart can you pursue the truth and gradually cast off your corrupt disposition. This is the opportunity that God provides you with” (“To Attain the Truth, You Must Learn From the People, Matters, and Things Around You” in Records of Christ’s Talks). Through fellowship on God’s words I came to understand why nothing happened even though my classmates had skipped class so many times, but I was found out by the teacher the very first time. It was indeed God’s rule. God set up an environment in a practical way to expose me, judge me, and chastise me; it was to have me understand my own satanic nature and my dispositions of lying and cheating, and thus pursue the truth, be an honest person, and live out a human likeness. This was God’s love and salvation for me! In the past, everyone would praise me for being a good kid so I always thought that was the case, but through the revelation of the facts and being judged and exposed by God’s words, I finally realized the crookedness and deceitfulness of my own nature. I was able to brazenly lie and cheat, and I was of really small stature; I could follow along with unbelievers at any time, any place, and live within a corrupt disposition, shaming God’s name. The teacher gave me detention—although I suffered a bit in the flesh, it made me remember this lesson, and I wouldn’t lie or cheat in the future. If I had been successful in skipping class that time I would have wanted to do it again when faced with tests and temptation after that. Then, I would just lie and lie, become more and more slippery and deceitful, and in the end I’d be completely carried off by Satan. By that time God wouldn’t even acknowledge me because He loves and saves honest people. He hates and eliminates deceitful people. At that moment I finally saw clearly what great harm lying does, and I also saw how critical, how important it is to be an honest person!
We had a math exam not long after that. The evening before the test while studying, I discovered that there were still a lot of concepts I didn’t understand. Considering there was a test the next day, I became really anxious. That term’s grades were the most important for getting into university; they would look at my grades from that year, and if I failed math, all of my past hard work would have been in vain. The more I thought about it, the more stressed I felt. The next day in the few minutes before the test, I suddenly realized that I had forgotten to bring the notebook I had written all the formulas in. I was thrown into total confusion. I had secretly written down lots of example problems in that notebook, but now that it was lost, that exam was certainly a wash-out. Holding on to a shred of hope, I looked everywhere, hoping that I had accidentally dropped it on the floor somewhere. Just as I was looking high and low, I spied the answers on the exam paper of the student sitting next to me. I rejoiced at this stroke of luck, feeling that I had suddenly seen a ray of hope. I then stole a furtive glance at the teacher—he was engrossed in work in front of the computer. So, I quickly made a pass through all of the math problems and then I tapped the student next to me, motioning to him to compare our answers. Though I said I wanted to compare answers, in fact, I wanted to write his answers on my exam. I surreptitiously got through the entire math exam like that, on tenterhooks. I thought I had finally taken care of the subject I least excel at and was planning to go have a great time once vacation started!
Much to my surprise, a few days later the school held a meeting for parents and guardians, and my landlord auntie went in my stead to pick up my report card. She said I got good grades in everything, except my math grade hadn’t been entered in with the rest because the school suspected that there could be an issue of academic integrity. Hearing this, I felt like I came crashing down from the sky to the earth in an instant—I was worried and afraid, and didn’t know what to do. I thought to myself over and over: “Issue with academic integrity? Could it be that they found out I copied my classmate’s answers? If that’s the case, what should I do? Plagiarism is a really serious problem and it could even impact my chances of getting into university. But right now the school just suspects it, so I still have hope. It’ll be fine as long as I can give a clear explanation, but how could I explain it? I really did plagiarize. Maybe I should just go admit it?” I turned this over and over in my mind. At that time, a classmate suggested that I never admit it under any circumstances whatsoever, that I should just come up with any excuse and bluff my way through it. But then I thought: “That’s not something a believer in God should do. What am I going to do, really?” It just so happened that there was a gathering that evening, so I opened up to my sisters in fellowship about the situation I was in. One of my sisters had me read a passage of God’s words: “Up until now, people have listened to a lot of sermons on the truth, and have experienced a lot of God’s work. Yet under the interferences and obstructions of many different factors and circumstances, most people can’t attain putting truth into practice, and can’t attain satisfying God. People are increasingly slack, increasingly lacking in confidence…. God’s only desire is to give these truths to man, and imbue His way unto man, and then arrange various circumstances in order to test man in different ways. His goal is to take these words, these truths, and His work, and bring about an outcome where man can fear God and shun evil. Most people I’ve seen just take God’s word and regard it as doctrines, regard it as letters, regard it as regulations to be observed. When they go about things and speak, or face trials, they don’t regard God’s way as the way that they should observe. This is especially true when people are faced with major trials; I have not seen anyone who was practicing in the direction of fearing God and shunning evil” (“How to Know God’s Disposition and the Result of His Work” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I felt reproach in my heart after reading these words. Even though I understand a little bit of the aspect of the truth regarding being an honest person and not long before I had undergone judgment and chastisement in that aspect, as soon as I faced another trial I was still unable to put the truth into practice. I very clearly knew that plagiarism was wrong, but for the sake of my own grades, I clean forgot about the truth of God requiring that we be honest people. Not only did I not bear witness, but I had shamed God. I couldn’t sleep that night, turning it over and over in my mind. I finally set my resolve to be an honest person and to no longer shame God’s name to uphold my own personal interests. Once I came to that decision I rushed to get out of bed, turn on the computer, and write a self-criticism, confessing my wrongdoing. The next morning I got to school very early and handed my self-criticism over to my teacher, apologized to him for my behavior, and guaranteed that in the future I would never again engage in any cheating. While doing that I steeled myself for getting zero points, and was willing to accept any punishment the school gave me. But I never could have imagined that the teacher actually decided to let me take the exam again. In that moment, I couldn’t hold back my thanks and praise for God from my heart: Thanks be to God for His mercy on me! This showed me that God knows human hearts and minds, and when I set aside my own personal benefit and practiced the truth of being an honest person, God did not look at my transgressions, but opened up a new path for me and had the teacher allow me to retake the exam. I genuinely felt that God is by my side, observing my every little move, and He is setting up all the people, events, things and environments around me so that I may personally experience His true existence. God’s love for me is so genuine!
What was even more unexpected for me was that a few days later, there was a schoolwide assembly to issue certificates of merit for straight-A students that term. When the teacher announced my name, I thought it was a mistake, and until the other students said something to me I didn’t realize that I really was receiving that certificate. My classmates were all really surprised, wondering how I could get a certificate of merit after I plagiarized in math. I silently exclaimed within my heart: This is all God’s deeds! I know that this certificate isn’t for my grades, but it is God giving me an award for practicing being an honest person. This confirmed even more for me that God truly is by my side at all times and is watching over me at every moment. Everything God arranges for me is best.
Now I’m enjoying gatherings and reading God’s words more and more. Even though I still reveal a corrupt disposition in my life, no matter what I encounter I have fellowship with my sisters and seek the truth from God’s words to resolve the issue. Through this kind of practical support I have come to understand more and more of the truth, and I put it into practice with greater and greater strength. I feel that God is by my side, and that He can expose me at any time through various people, events, and things, and He also uses His words to lead and guide me to enter into the truth. I now feel that my relationship with God is growing ever closer, and I am entirely certain that Almighty God is the true God, that at all times and all places, He is the God keeping watch by my side, caring for and protecting me! All glory be to Almighty God!