4. Return of a Prodigal Son
Wang Xin Harbin City
In 1999, I became a leader due to the requirements of the work of the church. Although I felt deeply that I was not worthy of the job when I first started, after a while, due to my arrogant and self-righteous nature, my initial cautiousness gradually turned into exalting myself and testifying about myself. I cared about food, clothes, and enjoyment, greedily indulging in the blessings of my status. I even wanted to be on an equal footing with God. In the end, I was finally dismissed and sent home. It was only after this that I had an awakening and realized that “status” had made me give up on God and the truth; “status” had made me set up my individual kingdom; “status” had turned me into an antichrist; “status” made me embark on the road to death. It was only then that I discovered that I had strayed so very far from the right path and already fallen too deep.
Looking back, my downward spiral began when my gospel work started to show some results. At the time, I really thought I was something and started talking big and getting pleased with myself, and I often spoke with a tone to people within the scope of my work. Later, a sister I was paired with raised my deficiencies with me, saying I carried a kind of wildly arrogant disposition when I spoke. I only accepted it on the surface, but not in my heart. In the end, I still thought of all sorts of ways to indirectly refute the deficiencies she raised. In the days after this, I began to speak for the sake of my status, never feeling uncomfortable in my heart for failing to satisfy God. Instead, I was often frustrated because other people were not convinced by me. Gradually, my heart grew numb and devoid of feeling. Just when I was still completely unaware that I was pursuing the wrong path, a leader gave me a note. It said: “XX, now that you’ve become a big shot, even your tone of voice has changed. You’re pretty much like the government officials out in the world. You will be eliminated soon.” What? Does this not imply that I am going to lose my future and destiny? After reading these words I fell into painful torment, but I did not examine my nature or appreciate from it God’s care and thought, and moreover I did not sense the consequences of continuing on like this. Then, a major illness suddenly befell me. In this situation and environment, I felt I had thoroughly fallen into despair. My mind was in a tangle and I was terrified of losing my duty. I was also afraid of being eliminated and not having a future, as well as being dismissed and sent home. I was full of outrageous requests toward God. Although I realized that I cared too much about status, I was entirely under Satan’s control and could not free myself. I actually used my position as a leader to control brothers and sisters into doing personal things for me, getting them to help me find a doctor so I could find a way to quickly get rid of my illness. My heart was dominated by one thought: I must not lose my status and I can’t lose my duty. I started to enjoy special treatment, ate good health supplements, and also accepted good food from brothers and sisters without question. Yet, I absurdly thought: I’m not doing it for enjoyment; I’m doing it to heal my illness so it won’t delay my work, and therefore it does not count as excessive. In the end, I not only did not recover but my illness got even worse.
Later, based on my situation, the leaders let me go home to self-reflect, saying that my illness is a mental issue.
When I heard the news that they were letting me go home to self-reflect, it felt like I had been struck by a lightning bolt. My legs were so weak I couldn’t stand, and I almost didn’t even have enough strength to breathe. I thought: It’s over. Haven’t all these years of pursuit been in vain? What prospects do I still have? How am I going to survive in the future?
After returning home, I was out of my head all day. My former aspirations and vows were all gone. I looked at my own age and then at how my family had changed over the years: My siblings all got married, while I became a redundant weirdo people couldn’t understand. At that point, I felt I had become desolate and helpless to a degree, and so I lived every day in complaint, disappointment, and blame, without a shred of comfort. Though I sometimes would think back to the sweetness of the work of the Holy Spirit and the joyous moments of experiencing God’s work, the more I thought about it the more I suffered and regretted. I would then bawl my eyes out, asking myself: Will my road to believing in God just draw to an end like this? Am I going to just die aggrieved like this? I cannot! I was in so much pain that I virtually preferred death to living. I knelt down and wept, loudly calling out and praying to God: “Oh God! Every minute after leaving You has been so unbearable. I now understand deeply that what I need is You, and not things for the flesh such as food, clothing, status, and enjoyment…. These things will only bring me pain and chastisement, mental torment, accusations against my conscience, condemnation and anxiety. Oh God! I hate and despise myself for not cherishing the opportunity to be perfected that You bestowed upon me. I really don’t want to leave You! Oh God! How shall I walk my future path? What should I do? Please point out the right path to me. How can I satisfy Your intentions under these circumstances?” My heart was weeping, and my whole body was shaking. Tears of regret, indebtedness, and remorse all intertwined. At that moment, I got a taste of what someone conquered by God feels after being abandoned by God for offending His disposition! Amid my constant cries and regret, I felt God slowly turning toward me. God then enlightened me: “What would you do if you were to again experience trials similar to that of service-doers? No matter when, you must follow with one heart and mind … seeking dispositional change until the work of the entire universe is complete.” I then also remembered that God once said: “Regardless of whether you transgress involuntarily or out of a rebellious nature, just remember: Hurry and wake up to reality! Press onward; no matter what situation arises, you must press onward. God is working to save people …” (“God’s Will Is to Save People to the Greatest Extent Possible” in Records of Christ’s Talks). Before God’s tireless word, my heart gradually recovered. I saw hope, I understood God’s intentions, and I was no longer confused about which path in front of me to take. Right now, God wants me to be a loyal follower, be able to concretely seek dispositional change, and from this moment forth be able to finish the road I had not finished walking as a created creature, no longer asking anything from God. At this point, I thought about the words God said after the trial of service-doers, the meaning of which is: Man does not really suffer all that much if he is truly willing to be a created creature…. Yes, the source of my suffering is my corruption. God’s original intention was to not let man suffer so much. It’s just that I didn’t want to be a created creature. I was always trying to avoid the truth to walk my own path, always wanting to be God, and making people treat me like God. How can I then not suffer a lot? At this moment, I personally experienced the power of God’s word—it could make me rise from the dead, make me break through all forces of death. Now all the difficulties in my heart were resolved by God’s word. Like a good rain after a long drought, everything was so fresh, so liberated, so wonderful. Yeah! God, I was originally a created creature made by You. Since I was made by You I shall belong to You and worship You. This is my duty and responsibility. I should not ask anything more of You and should only be obedient before Your righteous disposition. You letting me go home to self-reflect is Your greatest gift of love and protection to me. I was tormented by illness because of my disobedience and because I offended Your disposition. Based on my actions I should have been cursed by You long ago, but due to Your grace You have allowed me to be alive today.
This experience has left a deep imprint in the depths of my soul, making me unable to forget it for the rest of my life. Every time I recall one scene after another of me being struck down, I would become deeply cautious and motivated. I will never again offend God and make God sad. Without God’s tolerance and patience, I would not be breathing today! Oh God! Thank You! In Your work I have previously enjoyed its sweetness and happiness, but I have also tasted Your unoffendable disposition. Moreover, I have experienced what it’s like to be the prodigal son and the warmth of returning to Your embrace again. How can Your actions not make me express my most heartfelt praises?