1. Going Astray and Finding the Way
Xiaobing Xuanzhou City, Anhui Province
“That which you are enjoying today is the very thing which is ruining your future, whereas the pain you are suffering today is the very thing that is protecting you. You must be clearly aware of that so as to keep away from the hook of temptation and to avoid entering the dense fog that blocks out the sun.” Every time I sing this song of God’s word “Enjoying Fleshly Comforts Will Ruin Your Future,” I think of time after time when I tested and betrayed God, and I feel both endless remorse and incredible gratitude.
In 1997, I accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days, and before long I had enthusiastically thrown myself into the work of spreading the gospel and had set my determination that in front of God, I would expend myself for Him without constraints in order to satisfy His heart. But as God’s work changed, when God’s work was not in line with my own conceptions and my desires were not fulfilled, my “devotion” to God then disappeared without a trace and my nature of betraying God was fully exposed.
There was one day in 1999 when I was returning home after a trip to carry out my duty, and I ran into an old classmate who I hadn’t seen in years. I saw his suit and tie, his cellphone—head to toe, he looked very well-off. I was incredibly envious; by contrast, I looked so shabby. A few days later, something my grandmother said once again hit that sore spot: “You’re not working and earning money now—aren’t you holding yourself back? Who would think anything of you without money? Look at your classmate, going out and earning so much money, buying all sorts of things … but what about you? You have nothing!” Suddenly, I envisioned that particular air my classmate had. I felt miserable and really wanted to crawl into a little hole! Then my grandmother said: “The hanging scroll factory your uncle runs happens to need people and he wanted you to work there.” I blurted out: “Okay! I’ll go!” That night, I lay awake tossing and turning, racked by these thoughts: Am I really going to earn money? What if I fall into temptation and can’t extricate myself? But because of my own vanity and the enticement of money as well as an actual predicament, I began to doubt God’s words. I thought: It can’t be that earning a little money will make it hard for me to extricate myself. … After a struggle, I was still unable to resist the temptation of money, so I comforted myself with this: “It doesn’t matter; after I’ve earned a little money and changed the situation, I’ll definitely put everything into fulfilling my duty. I won’t be like worldly people who can never get enough money.” So, the next day I went to the hanging scroll factory.
When I first started, I was working and leading the life of the church. I frequently reminded myself: I cannot turn my back on God! But I gradually sank lower and began to feel bored with eating and drinking the word of God. I didn’t want to see my brothers and sisters. Even though at every gathering I said that money was not as important as life, as soon as I went back to the factory, I became very busy without thinking about it. Sometimes I even numbed myself by working constantly so that I was too preoccupied to think of the extraordinary, once-in-a-millennium calamity that God has prepared. It was thus that I came to prefer leading an empty life like worldly people and was unwilling to seek the true beautiful life in God’s words.
Later, at a gathering, I felt a sudden pain in my stomach as if I had been hit by a hammer. I really couldn’t bear it, and I went into the bedroom to lie down. But it didn’t stop—I was rolling around on the bed in pain. When my brothers and sisters saw what was happening, they rushed to take me to the hospital, but the doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with me. My brothers and sisters advised me to look into myself, but not only did I not reflect on myself, but I believed even more that it wasn’t okay to not have money. I thought: “What if one day I get seriously ill, and I die because I don’t have money for treatment?” For that reason, I started to resent that my monthly salary at the hanging scroll factory was only 400 yuan and decided to go back home and throw myself into my career. So I borrowed 6,000 yuan and started a hanging scroll factory. But in order to avoid the calamity of the last days, I held on to my money in one hand and the truth in the other, letting go of neither. Who would have known that six months later, not only had I not made any money, but with interest I owed over 10,000 yuan. I lost my reason then, and complained to God: “Oh God, You won’t bless me with making money, but You shouldn’t let me lose money! Why would I have the will to follow You when You do this? Even if I am wrong, You should be understanding of my weaknesses! …” At that moment, I was dazzled by money and God didn’t have even the smallest place in my heart; I didn’t realize at all that God’s righteous disposition was upon me. I remained unrepentant; I actually betrayed God again, leaving the church to go learn to be a hairstylist. I immersed myself in sin and forgot about God entirely.
That was until one day when I was riding my bicycle to go meet my father. I got to the top of a rise, and suddenly a mean dog ran from the side of the road, lunging at me ferociously. I rode as hard as I could, flying down the slope, but the dog was still close behind, baring its teeth and barking. I was so frightened I was trembling from head to toe. I was in a cold sweat and lifted both of my feet up high. With a thud, I came tumbling off the bike onto the road, which was covered in sharp rocks. I rolled and rolled into the ditch next to the road, then finally stopped. I couldn’t move my legs, my hands were numb, and I was in a panic. I thought: What if this makes me disabled? What if something terrible is to happen? I endured the pain and lay in the ditch, hoping my father would return home soon. Finally, my father came back and, seeing me looking so beat up, asked me what had happened. Not knowing if I should laugh or cry, I said: “I was scared by the dog!” “Strange! The dog doesn’t bite anyone else, why would it bite you?” In the end, my father made a Herculean effort and finally got me out of the ditch and onto the bicycle, and pushed me home. Lying in bed, I could not help but think of my father’s words again: “Strange! The dog doesn’t bite anyone else, why would it bite you?” Suddenly, I saw the light and thanked God! I thought: This fall has rolled me into an awakening! If I had rolled to my death today after falling or had been bitten by the dog and died, then no matter how much money I have earned, what use would it be? The more I thought about it, the more scared I was, and all of a sudden, I thought of God’s words: “Is the world really your place of rest? Can you really, by avoiding My chastisement, attain the faintest smile of gratification from the world? … I urge you: better to sincerely spend half your life for My sake than your whole life in mediocrity and busywork for the flesh, enduring all the suffering a man can hardly bear. What purpose does it serve to treasure yourself so much and flee from My chastisement? What purpose does it serve to hide yourself from My momentary chastisement only to reap an eternity of embarrassment, an eternity of chastisement? I do not, in fact, bend anyone to My will. If a man is really willing to submit to all My plans, I would not treat him poorly. But I require that all people believe in Me …” (“What It Means to Be a Real Man” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Maybe you have complained in the past, but no matter how much you have complained God does not remember that about you. Today has come and there is no reason to look into yesterday’s matters” (“Genuine Love for God Is Spontaneous” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). At that time, a feeling of gratitude welled up in my heart. Mankind’s lives are all in God’s hands, and it is Almighty God that has given me life. But at that point how could I have the nerve to return to the church! I was full of regret and hated that I had been possessed to betray God. Not only could I not bear witness for God in the environment He had created for me, but I had also tried to reason with God and complained, and I had followed my flesh into evil-doing with Satan. When I thought of myself testing God’s disposition, disregarding His existence, His searching eyes upon mankind, and His discipline, and time after time that I had brazenly, shamelessly tried to reason with God, I couldn’t help but shed tears of remorse. In spite of the pain, I knelt on the bed and prayed to God: “Almighty God! I am too rebellious. I believed in You but doubted You, believed in You but distanced myself from You. I simply did not treat You as God; I really should be damned! Based on my actions today, I should have been bitten to death by that dog. Because You do not allow one person to serve two Lords, and You particularly do not allow someone to believe in You but not keep You in their heart. Only today did I see that without You I am so pathetic. I was living in filth but did not feel disgust, and didn’t feel that I was being fooled by Satan. Oh God! I am willing to give myself up to You entirely. I beg You to have mercy on me again, to protect my heart, to allow my heart to return to You. After my injuries have healed, I will leave the hair salon and throw myself into the work of the gospel to fulfill the duty of a creation, to repay Your love, to comfort Your heart, and to no longer preoccupy myself for money or rush about for the sake of the flesh.”
I thank the love of Almighty God; He used chastisement and judgment to save me once again from sin, to allow me to find my way back from going astray, to pursue a life with meaning, with value. The love of Almighty God truly is broad and profound; it leaves me unable to describe it with words. I am willing to set this determination in front of God: Starting from today, I will no longer turn my back on God; I will follow Him closely until the end to repay the God that loves mankind as His own flesh and blood!