She bitterly pursued the dream of an exceptional life for three decades, but in the end only made herself sick. Does pursuing an exceptional life bring true happiness? This article analyzes the question …
Christian Reflection: Does Pursuing an Exceptional Life Bring True Happiness? (Part 2)
By Xin Ai
With the Coming of the Gospel, She Is Filled With God’s Love
God heard Ai’s prayers and reached out His hand of salvation to her. Sister Liu, a friend Ai hadn’t seen for many years, came to see her, and when she heard about Ai’s situation, she read this passage of God’s word to her, “The Almighty has mercy on these people who have suffered deeply. At the same time, He is fed up with these people who have no consciousness, because He has had to wait too long to get an answer from humanity. He wishes to seek, to seek your heart and your spirit, to bring you water and food, and to awaken you, that you may no longer be thirsty and hungry. When you are weary and when you begin to feel something of the bleak desolation of this world, do not be lost, do not cry. Almighty God, the Watcher, will embrace your arrival at any time. He is watching by your side, waiting for you to turn back. He is waiting for the day you suddenly recover your memory: realizing the fact that you came from God, but at who knows what point losing your direction, at who knows what point falling senseless by the wayside, and again at who knows what point acquiring a ‘father.’ Furthermore, you realize that the Almighty has been there the whole time, standing watch, awaiting your return, for a very, very long time. He has been watching with desperate longing, waiting for a response without an answer. His standing watch is beyond price, and it is for the sake of the human heart and the human spirit. Perhaps this standing watch is indefinite, and perhaps it is at an end. But you should know exactly where your heart and your spirit are right now” (“The Sighing of the Almighty”).
As she heard this, Ai’s tears flowed like rain. The warmth of God’s words made her feel God’s affection. All along, God knew about the vicissitudes of worldly life and the pain and bitterness in Ai’s heart. Ai had been led away from God by her selfish desires and mistakenly accepted Satan as her “father,” which God also knew. Her heart had thirsted and lost direction, and she lived in misery with no way out, which God also knew. But God had always been with her, keeping watching over her, and waiting for her heart to again turn to God. As she was impressed by God’s great love and care, and as she heard the exhortation and comfort in God’s words, Ai felt as though she was a child lost for years who had finally returned to the warm embrace of her mother. Ai wept with joy, choking on sobs as she read the passage again and again. She thanked God for not abandoning her and bringing her back into His house.
Afterward, Ai actively took part in church life, read God’s words with her brothers and sisters, sang hymns in praise of God, and fellowshiped on her understanding and experience of God’s words. Through meetings and reading God’s word, Ai came to understand more about God’s good intentions in saving people, and also learned that Satan is the origin of all misery, and that step by step, it corrupts mankind even into the present day. When she understood these things, Ai felt released from some of the pressure in her heart. Day by day, through the guidance in God’s words and with the help of her brothers and sisters, Ai emerged from the haze of her torment and began to treat worldly entanglements in the correct manner, and she felt a sense of ease and release she had never experienced before. Following this, she entrusted the sale of her house to God, and was willing to obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements. She was surprised when a few days later, her house was sold, and the debt was quickly repaid. To Ai, it was nothing short of a miracle. She was deeply aware that this was God’s mercy and care, and her heart was filled with gratitude to God.
Through the Guidance in God’s Words, She Achieves a Spiritual Awakening
One day, Ai was reading a passage of God’s word, and finally learned the source of her pain. God’s word says, “In fact, no matter how lofty man’s ideals are, no matter how realistic man’s desires are or how proper they may be, all that man wants to achieve, all that man seeks for is inextricably linked with two words. These two words are vitally important to the life of every person, and these are things Satan intends to instill in man. Which two words are these? They are ‘fame’ and ‘gain.’ Satan uses a very subtle kind of way, a way very much in concert with people’s notions; it is not any kind of radical way. In the midst of unawareness, people come to accept Satan’s way of living, its rules of living, establishing life goals and their direction in life, and in doing so they also unknowingly come to have ideals in life. No matter how high-sounding these ideals in life seem, they are just a pretext that is inextricably linked to fame and gain. Any great or famous person, all people in fact, anything they follow in life relates only to these two words: ‘fame’ and ‘gain.’ People think that once they have fame and gain, they can then capitalize on them to enjoy high status and great wealth, and to enjoy life. Once they have fame and gain, they can then capitalize on them in their pleasure-seeking and unscrupulous enjoyment of the flesh. People willingly, albeit unknowingly, take their bodies, minds, all that they have, their futures and their destinies and hand them all over to Satan in order to attain the fame and gain they desire. People actually do this without ever a moment’s hesitation, ever ignorant of the need to recover it all. Can people still have any control over themselves once they take refuge in Satan and become loyal to it in this way? Certainly not. They are completely and utterly controlled by Satan. They have also completely and utterly sunk down into a quagmire and are unable to free themselves” (“God Himself, the Unique VI”).
God’s words reveal the true state of corrupt mankind, and after Ai read these words, they seemed to pierce her heart, because this was the moment she suddenly awaked. Ai recalled how she had admired her uncle’s money and power as a child, how he won the praise and admiration of the other villagers, and how she herself wanted nothing but to live an extraordinary life. For fame and gain, Ai had thrown herself into her labors and made herself busy with constant work, like a money-making machine. For fame and gain, she had supported three separate jobs with her weak, small frame, and endured things most men wouldn’t be able to endure. For fame and gain, she had ground through her days in torment, accumulating sickness and diseases, and even overworked herself and become severely anemic. She had done all these things because she longed for fame and gain, yet she had not only not achieved either, she got up to her ears in debt and spent her days inextricably trapped in torment and fear. For fame and gain, she had even turned her back on the Lord’s teachings, followed worldly trends, and departed from and betrayed God, thereby falling into darkness … This is when Ai began to see fame and gain as invisible fetters that held her firmly in bondage and made her an utter slave to them. She had been entrapped by fame and gain, she spent all her days rushing to and fro in their service, and she was willing to pay any price for them. Ai finally saw that fame and gain is a way for Satan to harm people. Satan uses the education from our teachers at school and the influence of famous people to instill satanic rules and logic like “Money is first,” “Money isn’t everything, but without it, you can do nothing,” “No pain, no gain,” “One should strive to stand head and shoulders above others” in people’s hearts, making people mistakenly believe that pursuing wealth, fame, and gain is a great ambition and the way to be proactive and make progress, and that it is the goal and direction people with great passion and ambition should pursue. Without understanding of the truth or discernment of positive and negative things, people unwittingly and involuntarily begin to struggle for fame and gain, they become willing to bear any level of hardship or exhaustion, and they refuse to stop even if it costs them their health and life. After experiencing the bitterness and pain of being caught in Satan’s snare, Ai finally saw that Satan uses wealth, fame, and gain to seduce, corrupt, and harm people, which caused her to sink ever deeper into the quagmire of pursuing fame and gain, go ever farther from God, and eventually lose her chance to be saved by God. When she understood these things, Ai felt grateful for the enlightenment and guidance in God’s words, which allowed her to see through Satan’s tricks. That she had the opportunity to come before God, accept the truth, and accept God’s salvation for her was God’s great mercy and grace for her. Ai was determined to change her mistaken way of life, no longer live by Satan’s mistaken ideas, and found the determination and courage to reject fame and gain, and instead pursue the truth.
After that, Ai began to participate in church life while she continued to work. When colleagues and friends around her encountered difficulties, she looked for answers in God’s words. Many of her friends, therefore, felt that God’s words are very practical, and that they resolved real difficulties and problems, so they accepted God’s gospel of the last days and returned to God’s presence. Ai thanked God for His salvation from the bottom of her heart!
When Temptation Comes, She Overcomes It by Relying on God
Later, a colleague invited Ai to found a housekeeping company with her, saying that the housekeeping service industry caters to current market demand, is very popular, has a low startup investment, and produces quick results. All they had to do was get it started, her colleague promised, and they would succeed. Ai was very tempted when she heard the idea. She thought, “This is a good industry, and the risk is low. If we are successful, we’ll make a lot of money, and we’ll be famous locally …” But when she got to this point, Ai immediately realized something was wrong, so she quickly prayed to God, “God! I have been poisoned too deeply by Satan. I still want fame and gain. From Your words, I understand that fame and gain are tools for Satan to corrupt, harm, and bind people, and that they bring no benefit to people. I don’t want to fall into the snare of pursuing fame and gain, and continue to be harmed by Satan. God! Please help me and give me faith so that I can overcome Satan’s temptation.”
After Ai prayed, she remembered a passage of God’s word, “It is hard for people to relinquish their interests, right? People’s interests are their life, and relinquishing them is tantamount to giving up their lives. So what should you do? You must learn to forsake, to suffer and to endure the pain of parting with the interests you love. After you have endured the pain and relinquished some of them, you then feel a little relieved and a little freer, and in this way you will overcome” (“Knowing Dispositions Is the Basis for Changing Dispositions”). From God’s words, Ai saw that God sees and thoroughly understands people’s desires. God knows it is hard for people to let go of fame and gain, He understands people’s difficulties, and He points out the path of practice for people, which is praying to God often, experiencing real suffering, and learning to betray one’s own extravagant desires. By doing this, we can gradually overcome the bondage of fame and gain. The guidance of God’s word allowed Ai to understand that while this colleague’s invitation to open a housekeeping company outwardly appeared to be a chance to make money, Satan’s trickery was behind it. Satan again arrogantly wanted to use fame and gain to tempt her, entrap her in the whirlpool of earning money, and bring her back to its camp to toy with her and harm her. Ai recalled that each time she tried a new business, she did so with the desire to make a lot of money. Under the influence of pursuing fame and gain, she worked herself to the bone, with the result being that she never made any money, or even if she did, she made herself physically and mentally exhausted, and in the end, she made herself sick. It wasn’t worth it. Ai realized that for 30 years she had been living by satanic laws of survival, struggling bitterly in pursuit of fame and gain, rushing busy through half of her life, and in the end, she had gained nothing. It was without any value or meaning. Look at the rich and famous; are they really happy? Some become sick and suffer the torment of illness; some have money, but their souls are incomparably empty and miserable, so to find stimulation some indulge in drugs, others in eating, drinking, and debauchery, living decadent, sinister lives. Some take on mistresses, second wives, or even a whole group of them, leading to family breakdowns and miserable lives. There are many such examples. Ai realized that the pursuit of fame and gain is the wrong path. Even if we obtain them, they only bring us emptiness and pain, and not even the slightest happiness. Ai also realized that Satan is hateful, and she blamed herself for being poisoned too deeply by Satan and nearly falling for Satan’s trick. Ai thought that although she wasn’t living the life she had wanted, she had time to read God’s words, participate in church life, and spread the gospel to perform the duties of a created being. She felt fulfilled and content. This was God’s blessing, and the happiest possible life! God’s word says, “After you recognize this, your task is to lay aside your old view of life, stay far from various traps, let God take charge of your life and make arrangements for you, try only to submit to God’s orchestrations and guidance, to have no choice, and to become a person who worships God” (“God Himself, the Unique III”). The pain she had suffered from fame and gain was burned into her heart. Ai realized that the best things are given by God, and she understood that obeying God’s orchestrations and arrangements, entrusting everything to God, and pursuing the truth was the only correct choice. When she thought of this, Ai finally had the faith and strength to practice the truth. She was determined to follow God’s word and no longer wound God’s heart by falling for Satan’s tricks. After she refused her colleague, she suddenly felt very relieved, as well as a sense of peace and security.
Before long, Ai learned that her colleague’s housekeeping company had closed down for certain reasons. When she heard this news, Ai thanked God for protecting her and keeping her from being toyed with and harmed by Satan.
Pursuing the Truth, Moving Toward the Light
After that, Ai read this passage in God’s word, “If people experience until the day comes when their outlook on life and the significance and the basis of their existence have entirely changed, when they have been altered to their very bones, and have become someone else, won’t this be incredible? This is a great change, an earth-shattering change. Only when you are disinterested in the fame and fortune, status, money, pleasure, and luxuries of the world, and can easily forgo them, will you have the likeness of a human being. Those who will ultimately be made complete are a group such as this; they live for the truth, live for God, and live for that which is just. This is the likeness of a true human being” (from God’s fellowship).
After her experiences, Ai deeply felt that it was God’s word that guided her to overcome Satan’s relentless temptations once and for all. Only God is the truth, the way, and the life. Only God can bring people light, only by worshiping God, pursuing the truth, changing our mistaken views, and allowing God’s word to become our guideline, can we embark on the correct path in life. When we establish the correct outlook on life and values based on God’s word, when we live by God’s word, and when we do everything according to God’s word, our souls will enjoy security and happiness from God. Now, Ai spent more of her time pursuing the truth, was willing to obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements, and no longer pursued an exceptional life, and she experienced a sense of ease and release she had never felt before. The Lord Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Because she genuinely experienced the true meaning of these words, she sincerely gave thanks and praise to God!