77. I Enjoyed a Rich Banquet
Xinwei Zhejiang Province
June 25 and 26 were unforgettable days. Our Zhejiang region experienced a huge event, with most region leaders and workers seized by the great red dragon. Only a few of us escaped unscathed and, our hearts full of gratitude, we made a secret oath to God: to cooperate well with the work to follow. Subsequently we started the hectic work of dealing with the aftermath. And after almost a month, the arrangements were approaching completion. That month was a hot one, and while we suffered physically our hearts were content, as our work proceeded smoothly right under the nose of the great red dragon. When the work was complete I unwittingly found myself in a state of self-satisfaction, thinking how clever I was to have arranged the work so well. What a capable worker I was! And it was at this time that God visited His chastisement and judgment upon me …
One evening several of us sisters were talking. One sister suggested I write to XX and XX, assigned me some tasks, and added one final sentence: “Don’t just rush about, now is the time to hide and carry out spiritual devotions. Focus on spiritual devotions and entry into life.” As soon as I heard these words my heart rejected them: I have to write letters, I have to work. Where is the time for spiritual devotions? You’re an incomer, I’m a local, I’m protecting you by not letting you go out and work, and you’re criticizing me? If I sat at home carrying out spiritual devotions all day like you do, who’d go and do the work? Workload needs to be taken into account when assigning tasks; and the situation needs to be taken into account before pruning me. … The next morning everyone was eating and drinking and communicating God’s words, but I was distracted, taking no pleasure in the eating and drinking. The sisters were all talking of their understanding of God’s words, while I kept silent. That sister then asked me: “Why aren’t you talking?” I replied huffily: “I have no understanding.” The sister continued: “I see you are not in a good state.” I replied without thinking: “I haven’t noticed any problem.” But actually my thoughts were set to burst out of me. Ultimately I couldn’t contain them any longer and I told her what had been bothering me. That sister listened and admitted straight away that she had been presumptuous and should not have assigned me tasks as she wished. But this was not enough for me to set aside my resistance—on the contrary, I felt my work during this period had all being putting the truth into practice, and she shouldn’t have said I wasn’t in a good state. What would the district leaders beside us think? Then the sister continued: “I’m worried if you just work without any time for your own entry you will become degenerate….” The more she spoke the more I objected, thinking: You call me degenerate? I think I’m in a very good state, I’m not going to become degenerate! I simply did not agree with her communication. After breakfast I went out to work, feeling annoyed and thinking: I’ll quit as a leader, do some routine tasks and be done with it. If she says I’m degenerate and have no entry into life, how can I lead others anyway? The more I thought the more my spirit fell, thinking: When these tasks are complete I’ll resign. Then I just felt weak throughout my body, as if I was ill. I realized my state was wrong. On returning home I came before God and prayed: “Almighty God, I have been too arrogant and opinionated, I have not loved the truth, I have not been able to accept Your chastisement and judgment, Your dealing with me and pruning. I hope You can help me and protect my heart, my spirit, make me able to submit to Your work, to sincerely examine myself, and to have a real understanding of myself.” Later I saw the following words: “Knowing yourself is: The more you feel you have done well in a certain area, the more you think you have done the right thing in a certain area, the more you think you can satisfy God’s intentions in a certain area, and the more you think you are worthy of boasting in a certain area—the more it is worth for you to know yourself in these areas and the more it is worth for you to dig deep into them to see what impurities there are and what things cannot satisfy God’s intentions. … This thing about Paul gives each of us believers today a warning, which is that when we feel we have done especially well, or believe that we are especially gifted in some aspect, or feel we don’t need to change or accept being dealt with in some aspect, we should try to know more of ourselves in that particular regard. This is because you definitely would not dig into areas you already think are good, and would not pay attention to them or dissect them to see whether they contain things that resist God” (“Knowing Yourself Requires Knowing Your Deep-rooted Thoughts and Views” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words reflected my heart as if in a bright mirror. God requires us to understand ourselves by understanding where we think we do well, where we think we do right, and to understand ourselves more in those aspects where we think we do not need to be dealt with. Thinking of that time, I see that I was carrying a burden. My work was showing results and I was handling many major tasks well, thinking I was putting the truth into practice, that these were all positive and active entries and my state was very good—so I did not come before God and examine myself. Today, thanks to the enlightenment of God’s words I realize that at the time I was doing my work well, but my arrogant nature was rampant. I thought the results of my work were due to my efforts, that I was a capable worker. I was entirely self-satisfied. Actually, when I think back to that time I now realize I was only working, doing what I was able to do under the leadership and protection of the Holy Spirit, but while working I did not seek truth. I had no entry into life, and for a time I had no understanding of myself, I had no understanding of God, nor did my experience of God’s work bring me a clearer understanding of any aspect of the truth. On the contrary I became arrogant to the point of listening to no one, and stole God’s glory for my small part in His great work. The satanic disposition I thus revealed had offended God and was enough for Him to name me a sinner! But through that sister, God today reminded me to focus on spiritual devotions, to avoid degeneration. Yet I still did not accept it. Truly I did not know right from wrong and was too ignorant of myself. At the same time I felt I was in a terrifying state. If God had not aroused that sister to point out my state and have me return quickly to God, I would have lived on in degeneration, unaware I had lost the work of the Holy Spirit, and eventually would have committed some grave offense against God. I fear I would have been finished, lost. At this point I saw how badly I was in need of God’s judgment and to be dealt with to protect me on the road ahead. Although at the approach of judgment and chastisement, of being pruned and dealt with, I felt I had lost face and that this was a hardship, this was God’s salvation. I was willing to accept more of this type of work from God.
After experiencing that chastisement and judgment my state changed. My behavior and conduct became more low-key, and I understood a little of God’s work, a work incompatible with man’s conceptions. But soon, thanks to another of God’s revelations, I saw again that my understanding was too shallow. In early August I was promoted to work at the region. At the time I was in high spirits and secretly made an oath: God, thank You for Your elevation and giving me such a great commission. I do not want to fail Your trust in me, and I want to do everything in my power, and hope You will guide and lead me. And so I threw myself into a busy work schedule. Every day I was faced with a pile of messages I had to respond to, providing guidance for each one. I would often write until dawn, but I was happy to do so. Sometimes I would come across a situation which I did not understand or that was not clear, and I would pray to God and see His leadership and guidance, and work went smoothly. And unwittingly I again became arrogant, thinking: I’m pretty good, I’m a capable worker. One day I came across several difficulties. I did not know how to allocate the region’s books, work was disorganized, letters were being sent and returned slowly, and things were being delayed. So I prayed and pondered how to clear my mind, and then I felt it was clear: Find the approach used before the incident happened, fill all unoccupied posts, and appoint several new district workers, then work can proceed smoothly. So I wrote to my leader to make this suggestion and ask if it was feasible or not. While I wrote the letter I thought the leader was sure to think I have taken on a burden and am a capable worker. I awaited a reply, hoping for their praise. A few days later I was happy to receive a reply, but on opening and reading it I felt stricken. The leader hadn’t just failed to praise me, the reply was full of dealing with me and pruning, saying “You are unprincipled to do this, you want a high profile, and if you continue in this way you will interrupt God’s work! If the districts can handle their own work, let them, if not just set it aside. You should urgently carry out spiritual devotions and write articles….” At the time I was obsessed with right and wrong and felt I had been mistreated: “What kind of leader is this, who doesn’t solve the problems of subordinates? There’s been an incident in our region, all our work has been thrown into disorder: Don’t we need some organization? If the districts handle their own work, what’ll happen to all these letters? Won’t the materials on eliminations and expulsions and the videos be checked? The brothers and sisters don’t know how to distribute the region’s books, and we’re faced with crisis, and they’re writing messages to speed things up—is this to be ignored too? I didn’t want a high profile, I just wanted to open up our workflow. …” I completely failed to examine myself and was so upset I complained to my host sister, and even thought: I’ll quit, if I don’t quit I’m an interruption, I’ve been working so hard and I’m still an interruption. What’s the point?
The next day I stood in front of God and examined what I had revealed, thinking of how the above had said that rejecting being pruned and dealt with shows a failure to love the truth, and people who do not love the truth have a bad nature. So I consciously looked at “The Principle of Accepting Being Pruned and Dealt With.” I saw that God’s words say: “Some people become passive after being pruned and dealt with; they feel too weak to perform their duty and lose their loyalty and devotion. Why is this? This is partly due to people’s lack of awareness of the essence of their actions which results in not accepting being pruned and dealt with. It is also partly due to people not having understood the significance of being dealt with and pruned, believing it to be a sign of the determination of their outcome. As a result, people mistakenly believe that if they have some loyalty and devotion toward God, then they cannot be dealt with and pruned; if they are dealt with, it cannot be the righteousness of God. Such misunderstandings cause many people to not be loyal and devoted to God. In fact, it is all because people are too deceitful; they do not want to suffer hardship—they want to gain blessings the easy way. They are not aware of God’s righteousness. It is not that God has not done anything righteous or that He will not do anything righteous, it is just that people never think that what God does is righteous. In human eyes, if the work of God does not conform to the will of man or if it is not up to what they expected, it means that He is not righteous. People never realize when what they do is not appropriate or does not conform to the truth; they never realize that they are resisting God” (“The Meaning of People’s Performance Determining Their Outcome” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words exposed my internal reality. I did not accept being pruned and dealt with because I did not understand the nature of what I did. I thought there was nothing wrong in what I did, but my work and fulfilling of my duty had long departed from the work arrangements, yet I thought I was showing full devotion. Remembering the above had said that “You don’t need to worry about general problems…, there’s no need for someone to solve it. … There’s no need for a special attention, a grassroots leader can handle it.” The above did not want us to deal with general problems, while my view was that all questions sent up from below had to receive guidance and answers, regardless of how big an issue. Only if problems were dealt with could I calm down and carry out spiritual devotions. When faced with the facts I saw that I had not submitted absolutely and unconditionally to the arrangements of the above, and so I struggled to keep up with the new work trend of the Holy Spirit. I had too many worries I could not let go of and was arrogant to the point of having no reason. God was using the coordinator to deal with things inside me that were not in line with God’s will, so I would understand my nature of going against and betraying God and the new work trend of the Holy Spirit and God’s will: Spiritual devotions and self-examination should be primary, and I should not focus only on work. But I did not realize that the nature of my deeds went against the requirements of the above and went against and resisted God. I was obsessed with right and wrong. I failed to understand the spirit, I failed to understand God’s work. Then I again remembered the man’s communication: “It doesn’t matter which person, which leader, which worker, prunes and deals with me, it doesn’t matter if it completely matches the facts. As long as it partially matches I accept it and obey, I accept it completely; I do not offer explanations or say I accept some percentage of it but not the remainder, and by doing so I show I submit to God’s work. If you do not submit in this way to God’s words and God’s work, it will be difficult for you to acquire the truth, it will be difficult for you to enter into the reality of God’s words” (“How to Gain Results From Eating and Drinking God’s Words” in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life (I)). Yes, even if the coordinator’s words did not entirely match my situation I should submit to and accept them. And in any case my fulfilling of my duty had long gone against the above’s arrangements and the work of the Holy Spirit. Should I not have been even quicker to submit, to accept and to change? Later I consciously did my best to fulfill the above’s requests and when I had improved a little and calmed down, to engage in spiritual devotions, to practice writing articles, I saw that God Himself was protecting God’s work, and that it was proceeding as normal, without delay.
These two occasions of chastisement and judgment, of being pruned and dealt with were hardships, but left me with more understanding of myself and quickly changed my state. Later I saw that God’s words say: “His substance is good. He is the expression of all beauty and goodness, as well as all love” (“The Substance of Christ Is Obedience to the Will of the Heavenly Father” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “He curses you so that you might love Him, and so that you might know the essence of the flesh; He chastises you in order that you might be awakened, to allow you to know the deficiencies within you, and to know man’s utter unworthiness. Thus, God’s curses, His judgment, and His majesty and wrath—they are all in order to make man perfect. All that God does today, and the righteous disposition that He makes plain within you—it is all in order to make man perfect, and such is the love of God” (“Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I could not help but sigh: Yes, God is the expression of all beauty and goodness, His substance is beauty and goodness, His substance is love, so everything that comes from God is good and beautiful, whether it is judgment, whether it is chastisement, or if the people, events and things around us are used to prune and deal with us—this may feel like hardship or attack to man’s flesh, but what God does is of benefit to our lives, it is all salvation and love. But I did not understand God or His work, nor did I see His good intentions. When faced with judgment and chastisement, with being pruned and dealt with, I resisted by threatening to quit my work, unable to accept this from God, as if people were causing me trouble. Through God’s two revelations, I saw that despite eating and drinking of God’s word for many years, hearing so many sermons, my impulse to revolt when faced with judgment and chastisement, with being pruned and dealt with, was powerful and I rejected it entirely. I could see that despite believing in God all this time my disposition had not changed, Satan’s nature was deep-rooted, a nature of resisting and betraying God, and I had become a force opposing God. Suddenly I realized I needed judgment and chastisement, being pruned and dealt with. Without this type of work by God I would not see my own true face, I would not have a true understanding of myself, much less realize how deep-rooted Satan’s nature was within me. Only now do I understand why God says a depraved humanity is His enemy, and that we are the descendants of Satan…. This was revealed through God’s judgment and chastisement, pruning and dealing with me, and this is what I learned from that process. Contemplating God’s words, my heart became enlightened. I see how God carefully arranges for me to experience His work, to enter into the reality of the truth, leading me onto the true path of life. God raises me and treats me kindly. I also came to realize that everything God does for man is love. God’s judgment and chastisement, pruning and dealing are man’s greatest need and the best salvation.