Progeny: The Fifth Juncture
After marrying, one begins to nurture the next generation. One has no say in how many and what kind of children one has; this too is determined by a person’s fate, predestined by the Creator. This is the fifth juncture through which a person must pass.
If one is born in order to fill the role of another’s child, then one rears the next generation in order to fill the role of another’s parent. This shift of roles makes one experience different phases of life from different perspectives. It also gives one different sets of life experiences, in which one comes to know the same sovereignty of the Creator, as well as the fact that no one can overstep or alter the predestination of the Creator.
1. One Has No Control Over What Becomes of One’s Offspring
Birth, growing up, and marriage all deliver various kinds and different degrees of disappointment. Some people are dissatisfied with their families or their physical appearances; some dislike their parents; some resent or have many bones to pick with the environment in which they grew up. And for most people, among all these disappointments marriage is the most dissatisfactory. Regardless how dissatisfied one is with one’s birth, one’s growing up, or one’s marriage, everyone who has gone through them knows that one cannot choose where and when one was born, what one looks like, who one’s parents are, and who one’s spouse is, but must simply accept the will of Heaven. But when it comes time for people to raise the next generation, they will project all their unrealized desires in the first half of their lives onto their descendants, hoping that their offspring will make up for all the disappointments they experienced in the first half of their lives. So people indulge in all kinds of fantasies about their children: that their daughters will grow up to be stunning beauties, their sons dashing gentlemen; that their daughters will be cultured and talented and their sons brilliant students and star athletes; that their daughters will be gentle, virtuous, and sensible, their sons intelligent, capable, and sensitive. They hope that be it daughters or sons, they will respect their elders, be considerate of their parents, be loved and praised by everyone…. At this point hopes for life spring afresh, and new passions are kindled in people’s hearts. People know that they are powerless and hopeless in this life, that they will not have another chance, another hope, to stand out from others, and that they have no choice but to accept their fates. And so they project all their hopes, their unrealized desires and ideals, onto the next generation, hoping that their offspring can help them achieve their dreams and realize their desires; that their daughters and sons will bring glory to the family name, become important, rich, or famous; in short, they want to see their children’s fortunes soar. People’s plans and fantasies are perfect; do they not know that the number of children they have, their children’s appearance, abilities, and so forth, are not for them to decide, that their children’s fates do not at all rest in their palms? Humans are not the masters of their own fate, yet they hope to change the fates of the younger generation; they are powerless to escape their own fates, yet they try to control those of their sons and daughters. Are they not overestimating themselves? Is this not human foolishness and ignorance? People go to any length for the sake of their offspring, but in the end, how many children one has, and what one’s children are like, do not answer to their plans and desires. Some people are penniless but beget many children; some people are wealthy yet have no child. Some want a daughter but are denied that wish; some want a son but fail to produce a male child. For some, children are a blessing; for others, they are a curse. Some couples are bright, yet give birth to slow-witted children; some parents are industrious and honest, yet the children they raise are indolent. Some parents are kind and upright but have children who turn out to be crafty and vicious. Some parents are sound in mind and body but give birth to handicapped children. Some parents are ordinary and unsuccessful yet have children who achieve great things. Some parents are of low status yet have children who rise to eminence. …
2. After Raising the Next Generation, People Gain a New Understanding of Fate
Most people who marry do so around age thirty, and at this point in life one does not have any understanding of human destiny. But when people begin to raise children, as their offspring grow, they watch the new generation repeat the life and all the experiences of the previous generation, and they see their own pasts reflected in them and realize that the road walked by the younger generation, just like theirs, cannot be planned and chosen. Faced with this fact, they have no choice but to admit that every person’s fate is predestined; and without quite realizing it they gradually lay aside their own desires, and the passions in their hearts gutter and die out…. During this period of time, one has for the most part passed the important milestones in life and has achieved a new understanding of life, adopted a new attitude. How much can a person of this age expect from the future and what prospects do they have? What fifty-year-old woman is still dreaming of Prince Charming? What fifty-year-old man is still looking for his Snow White? What middle-aged woman is still hoping to turn from an ugly duckling into a swan? Do most older men have the same career drive as young men? In sum, regardless of whether one is a man or a woman, anyone who lives to this age is likely to have a relatively rational, practical attitude toward marriage, family, and children. Such a person has essentially no choices left, no urge to challenge fate. As far as human experience goes, as soon as one reaches this age one naturally develops this attitude: “One must accept fate; one’s children have their own fortunes; human fate is ordained by Heaven.” Most people who do not understand the truth, after having weathered all the vicissitudes, frustrations, and hardships of this world, will summarize their insights into human life with two words: “That’s fate!” Though this phrase encapsulates the worldly people’s conclusion and realization about human fate, though it expresses humanity’s helplessness and could be said to be penetrating and accurate, it is a far cry from an understanding of the Creator’s sovereignty, and is simply no substitute for a knowledge of the Creator’s authority.
3. Believing in Fate Is No Substitute for a Knowledge of the Creator’s Sovereignty
After being a follower of God for so many years, is there a substantial difference between your knowledge of fate and that of the worldly people? Have you truly understood the predestination of the Creator, and truly come to know the Creator’s sovereignty? Some people have a profound, deeply-felt understanding of the phrase “that’s fate,” yet they do not in the least bit believe in God’s sovereignty, do not believe that human fate is arranged and orchestrated by God, and are unwilling to submit to the sovereignty of God. Such people are as if adrift on the ocean, tossed by the waves, floating with the current, with no choice but to wait passively and resign themselves to fate. Yet they do not recognize that human fate is subject to God’s sovereignty; they cannot come to know God’s sovereignty on their own initiative, and thereby achieve knowledge of God’s authority, submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements, stop resisting fate, and live under God’s care, protection, and guidance. In other words, accepting fate is not the same thing as submitting to the Creator’s sovereignty; belief in fate does not mean that one accepts, recognizes, and knows the Creator’s sovereignty; belief in fate is just recognition of this fact and this outer phenomenon, which is different from knowing how the Creator rules humanity’s fate, from recognizing that the Creator is the source of dominion over the fates of all things, and even more from submitting to the Creator’s orchestrations and arrangements for humanity’s fate. If a person only believes in fate—even feels deeply about it—but is not thereby able to know, recognize, submit to, and accept the Creator’s sovereignty over the fate of humanity, then his or her life will nonetheless be a tragedy, a life lived in vain, a void; he or she will still be unable to become subject to the Creator’s dominion, to become a created human being in the truest sense of the phrase, and enjoy the Creator’s approval. A person who truly knows and experiences the Creator’s sovereignty should be in an active, not passive or helpless state. While at the same time accepting that all things are fated, he or she should possess an accurate definition of life and fate: that every life is subject to the Creator’s sovereignty. When one looks back upon the road one has walked, when one recollects every phase of one’s journey, one sees that at every step, whether one’s road was arduous or smooth, God was guiding one’s path, planning it out. It was God’s meticulous arrangements, His careful planning, that led one, unknowingly, to today. To be able to accept the Creator’s sovereignty, to receive His salvation—what great fortune that is! If a person’s attitude toward fate is passive, it proves that he or she is resisting everything that God has arranged for him or her, that he or she does not have a submissive attitude. If one’s attitude toward God’s sovereignty over human fate is active, then when one looks back upon one’s journey, when one truly comes to grips with God’s sovereignty, one will more earnestly desire to submit to everything that God has arranged, will have more of the determination and confidence to let God orchestrate one’s fate, to stop rebelling against God. For one sees that when one does not comprehend fate, when one does not understand God’s sovereignty, when one gropes forward willfully, staggering and tottering, through the fog, the journey is too difficult, too heartbreaking. So when people recognize God’s sovereignty over human fate, the smart ones choose to know it and accept it, to bid farewell to the painful days when they tried to build a good life with their own two hands, instead of continuing to struggle against fate and pursue their so-called life goals in their own manner. When one has no God, when one cannot see Him, when one cannot clearly recognize God’s sovereignty, every day is meaningless, worthless, miserable. Wherever one is, whatever one’s job is, one’s means of living and the pursuit of one’s goals bring one nothing but endless heartbreak and irrelievable suffering, such that one cannot bear to look back. Only when one accepts the Creator’s sovereignty, submits to His orchestrations and arrangements, and seeks true human life, will one gradually break free from all heartbreak and suffering, shake off all the emptiness of life.
4. Only Those Who Submit to the Creator’s Sovereignty Can Attain True Freedom
Because people do not recognize God’s orchestrations and God’s sovereignty, they always face fate defiantly, with a rebellious attitude, and always want to cast off God’s authority and sovereignty and the things fate has in store, hoping in vain to change their current circumstances and alter their fate. But they can never succeed; they are thwarted at every turn. This struggle, which takes place deep in one’s soul, is painful; the pain is unforgettable; and all the while one is frittering away one’s life. What is the cause of this pain? Is it because of God’s sovereignty, or because a person was born unlucky? Obviously neither is true. At bottom, it is because of the paths people take, the ways people choose to live their lives. Some people may not have realized these things. But when you truly know, when you truly come to recognize that God has sovereignty over human fate, when you truly understand that everything God has planned for and decided for you is a great benefit, and is a great protection, then you feel your pain gradually lighten, and the whole of you become relaxed, free, liberated. Judging from the states of the majority of people, though on a subjective level they do not want to keep on living as they did before, though they want relief from their pain, objectively they cannot truly come to grips with the practical value and meaning of the Creator’s sovereignty over human fate; they cannot truly recognize and submit to the Creator’s sovereignty, much less know how to seek out and accept the Creator’s orchestrations and arrangements. So if people cannot truly recognize the fact that the Creator has sovereignty over human fate and over all things of human, if they cannot truly submit to the Creator’s dominion, then it will be difficult for them not to be driven by, and fettered by, the notion that “one’s fate is in one’s own hands,” it will be difficult for them to shake off the pain of their intense struggle against fate and the Creator’s authority, and needless to say it will also be hard for them to become truly liberated and free, to become people who worship God. There is a simplest way to free oneself from this state: to bid farewell to one’s former way of living, to say goodbye to one’s previous goals in life, to summarize and analyze one’s previous lifestyle, philosophy, pursuits, desires, and ideals, and then to compare them with God’s will and demands for man, and see whether any of them is consistent with God’s will and demands, whether any of them delivers the right values of life, leads one to a greater understanding of the truth, and allows one to live with humanity and human likeness. When you repeatedly investigate and carefully dissect the various goals of life that people pursue and their various different ways of living, you will find that not one of them fits the Creator’s original intention when He created humanity. All of them draw people away from the Creator’s sovereignty and care; they are all pits into which humanity falls, and which lead them to hell. 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. This sounds easy, but is a hard thing to do. Some people can bear the pain of it, others cannot. Some are willing to comply, others are unwilling. Those who are unwilling lack the desire and the resolution to do so; they are clearly aware of God’s sovereignty, know perfectly well that it is God who plans out and arranges human fate, and yet they still kick and struggle, are still not reconciled to laying their fates in God’s palm and submitting to God’s sovereignty, and moreover, they resent God’s orchestrations and arrangements. So there will always be some people who want to see for themselves what they are capable of; they want to change their fates with their own two hands, or to achieve happiness under their own power, to see whether they can overstep the bounds of God’s authority and rise above God’s sovereignty. The sadness of man is not that man seeks happy life, not that he pursues fame and fortune or struggles against his own fate through the fog, but that after he has seen the Creator’s existence, after he has learned the fact that the Creator has sovereignty over human fate, he still cannot mend his ways, cannot pull his feet out of the mire, but hardens his heart and persists in his errors. He would rather keep thrashing in the mud, vying obstinately against the Creator’s sovereignty, resisting it until the bitter end, without the slightest shred of contrition, and only when he lies broken and bleeding does he at last decide to give up and turn back. This is true human sorrow. So I say, those who choose to submit are wise, and those who choose to escape are pig-headed.
from “God Himself, the Unique III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh