In Your Experience, How Much Practical Understanding Do You Have of God’s Salvation?
Since I was small, I had always had a strong desire to be better than others. No matter what group of people I was in, I always sought to be the best. While I was still at school, though I had an average mind and my grades weren’t outstanding, I studied very hard so that I wouldn’t fall behind the other students. Teachers praised me for my desire to make progress, and relatives also praised me for being such a diligent student and taking my studies so seriously. I would often feel proud of myself for receiving their praise and getting favorable comments from them, and I considered myself top of my age group. After I’d accepted God’s work in, I came to understand some truths by reading God’s words and living life, and I saw that, no matter what disposition God expresses, whether it be mercy, lovingkindness or righteous judgment and chastisement, they are all God’s true love for man. My heart was moved and inspired by God’s love, and I felt that the only right path in life was to and seek to be perfected by God. I therefore made a resolution to pursue in earnest, to give up everything and expend myself for God to repay His love. But because my deeply-rooted corrupt disposition and satanic nature had not yet been resolved, I still sought to distinguish myself and to make others look highly upon me when performing my duties. I remember one time when I was given the choice of two duties, and without any hesitation whatsoever I chose the duty that I thought would cause others to look highly upon me. Once I’d started this duty, a sense of superiority arose in my heart, so much so that I looked down on other brothers and sisters, thinking that they were only doing common duties, whereas I was performing an important duty, and that I was a person of talent in God’s family.
In June 2016, I started performing a duty that required me to use English. This was something I’d never dared to even dream of, and my heart was totally elated. I hadn’t expected to see a day when I could distinguish myself, and I had always used to feel distressed about not being smart enough, thinking that I’d be like this the rest of my life and that I had no great future prospects. Little did I realize that even lilies of the field have a spring too, and my spring had come at last. This was a turning point in my life and it was the beginning of the realization of my dreams—I would show my skills to the best of my ability. Thinking this, I felt so elated. How I wished I could immediately tell this news to my brothers and sisters in the church at home, letting them know what duty I was doing. I was even beginning to imagine how envious my brothers and sisters would feel once they came to know that I was doing this duty…. While I was so immersed in happiness and joy that I had forgotten myself completely, God’s judgment and chastisement came upon me again and again …
Though the brothers and sisters around me were young, they could read English very fluently and their pronunciation was very clear. In their everyday lives, they often used English to converse with each other, and they even used English to communicate and exchange ideas during meetings and when performing their duties. Compared with them, my English was so much poorer, and I felt both admiration and anxiety. At the same time, I quietly gave myself encouragement: “It doesn’t matter. As long as I study hard, I’ll catch up with you one day, and even surpass you.” In the days that followed, I rose up early and went to bed late so that I would have time to memorize vocabulary and read English. In my free time, I would always wonder how I could be more efficient at my duty, and whenever someone said about some experience they’d had in their professional work, I would note it down straight away. Every time I listened to an audio file while I did my duty, I recorded the time it took to finish it, in order to see whether or not I’d made any progress…. In the blink of an eye, several months had passed and, although I’d studied hard and made some progress, the results I obtained in my duties were still so much poorer than those obtained by my brothers and sisters. When I used English to exchange ideas with others, I would often express myself inaccurately, so afterward my brothers and sisters would always help me to correct my mistakes. When discussing work, the views and suggestions I offered were mostly useless. Thinking of how I wasn’t performing well at my duty and that I still needed my brothers and sisters to help me and set me right, I really felt like I was losing face, and in my heart there was a feeling of dejection and pain that I couldn’t give words to. But the more things went on like this, the stronger my desire to be better than others became and the more I didn’t want to give up, thinking that one day in the future I would surely stand out conspicuously and receive others’ approval.
Not long after, the person in charge arranged for me to perform duty together with another sister. Seeing that the sister was unfamiliar with the duty and that her level of English was not as good as mine, I secretly rejoiced: I could finally be rid of the dunce hat. The sister later encountered difficulties in her duty and, when she came to me seeking answers, I kept some information to myself. I didn’t want to fellowship too much with her for fear of her progressing too quickly and surpassing me. Sometimes I saw this sister obtaining no results in her duty and living in a state of negativity. I knew I should help her with a loving heart but I was afraid that, if her state became better and she obtained good results in her duty, then I wouldn’t outshine her anymore, so I behaved indifferently toward her. Little did I realize that when the sister encountered difficulties she would seek the truth, and when she lacked some professional knowledge she would often learn from other brothers and sisters. After two or three months she gradually managed to grasp the principles of doing her duty, her English quickly improved and she obtained good results in her duty. This made me panic, and I thought: “If things carried on this way, I was afraid that I’d once again be the least able member of the group. Oh, compared with the brothers and sisters who’d been doing this duty for a long time, it was OK for me not to be as good as them. But this sister had joined the group after me. If she was better than me too, where would I be able to hide my face for shame? What would my brothers and sisters think of me?” So, in this way, I lived all day in a state of vying for fame and gain from which I couldn’t escape, my mind entertained all sorts of ideas, my spirit was in darkness and in pain, and I lived in torment every day. At that time, I couldn’t help but recall with nostalgia the great time I’d had before, doing my duty back at home. When we’d discussed work back then, my sisters all approved of my views. Besides, the church leader held me in high esteem. How wonderful those days were, and yet now I had sunk to such a low…. The more I thought about it, the more painful it was, and the more disconsolate and wronged I felt, and I couldn’t help but hide away in the bathroom, crying my eyes out. In my pain, I prayed to God: “Oh, God! I don’t know what lessons I should be learning in this situation, and I don’t know why You have orchestrated this kind of environment for me. Are You exposing me? Oh, God! What is Your will? May You enlighten and illuminate me….” That evening, I lay in bed tossing and turning, unable to sleep. I kept thinking: “Doing my duty here is just too painful and I feel so dispirited. I don’t want to stay here in this place any longer. I’d rather go work as a coolie than stay here.” But when I thought this, I remembered how I had previously made a solemn vow to God to expend myself and repay God’s love for as long as I lived. If I really gave up my duty, wouldn’t that vow become just a lie? Wouldn’t I have deceived and betrayed God? But if I stayed here and did my duty, living in a pained, stifling state, I wouldn’t be willing to face the situation God had arranged for me—what was I to do? I was in a dilemma and I cried constantly. Crying, I prayed to God: “Oh, God! I’m so upset. I don’t know how I should be pursuing the truth in this situation, and I don’t know what lessons I should be learning. I ask that You enlighten and guide me, and allow me to understand Your will….”
Afterward, I turned my phone on and listened to a hymn of God’s words. As I listened, some of the lyrics touched my heart: “For many years, the thoughts that people have relied upon for their survival have been corroding their hearts to the point that they have become treacherous, cowardly, and despicable. Not only do they lack willpower and resolve, but they have also become greedy, arrogant, and willful. They are utterly lacking any resolve that transcends the self, and even more, they don’t have a bit of courage to shake off the strictures of these dark influences. People’s thoughts and lives are rotten, their perspectives on believing in God are still unbearably ugly, and even when people speak of their perspectives on belief in God it is simply unbearable to hear. People are all cowardly, incompetent, despicable, as well as fragile. They do not feel disgust for the forces of darkness, and they do not feel love for the light and the truth; instead, they do their utmost to expel them” (“Man’s True Condition of Being Corrupted by Satan” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). Listening to these words, I suddenly thought: Wasn’t I now living out the ugly life that God had exposed? All day long, I pulled a long, moping face, was pessimistic and despairing, and in my duty I was negative and passive, so much so that I even had the idea to throw down God’s commission and go out and get a job, and I hadn’t even a shred of resolve to pursue the truth and change myself. Only because the thoughts people live by are corroding their hearts do they have these states that God exposes. So exactly what thoughts was I living by? What thoughts had actually been tormenting me so painfully, to the point where I was even going to break my vow and give up my duty? As I contemplated God’s words, I began to calm down and reflect on exactly what I was pursuing and what things I had become fond of. I then thought of a scene in a music video. Written all over it were all kinds of satanic poisons and satanic laws, and three of them were: “I am my own Lord throughout heaven and earth,” “rising above others,” and “One should bring honor to his ancestors.” I suddenly realized that I had always lived by these poisons, and had therefore sought to be treated as important and held in high esteem by other people, and to gain their respect. At the very least, I wanted to be taken seriously, and at best, everyone would like me, admire me, agree with and approve of me. Only that was a life of value and meaning. Only that was the life. If I wasn’t held in high esteem by other people, but instead was seen as unimportant or snubbed, I would feel that life was so painful and meaningless, and that kind of life was so disheartening and degrading. Since I was small, I had always been worshiping and admiring those people with a towering image, always seeking to be someone like them. After I had come to the church to perform my duty, I was still living by Satan’s poisons. These things had become the beliefs I lived by and they had become my motivation and my goal, and no matter what situation I was in, I always worked hard and struggled to achieve this goal. When I had tried my hardest and failed to be seen as important and held in high esteem by other people, I would become despondent and would feel pained and downhearted, so much so that I wanted to give up my duty and betray God. Thoughts of pursuing fame and gain were in firm control of me and were dominating me. I suffered for them and struggled for them, so that all my joys and sorrows were affected by them and controlled by them. They were like phantoms, entwined so tightly around every piece of the deepest part of my soul, that if someone had dared to lay a finger on them, it would have killed me. At that moment, I realized that the direction in which I was pursuing was wrong. I was believing in God and doing my duty not to pursue the truth or repay God’s love, but instead I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to do my duty to satisfy my desire for status, and achieve my ambition and desire to distinguish myself. The enlightenment of God’s words enabled me to have some knowledge of my corrupt disposition of pursuing fame, gain and status, and I came to see clearly my future path. My heart felt very much unburdened. Although I was still bottom of the group, I didn’t feel as pained as I had before, for I knew that it was unimportant whether I was bottom of the group or not, and whether other people looked highly upon me or not was equally unimportant; what was most important was to be able to obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements, seek to practice the truth and satisfy God in all things, live by God’s words, fulfill my own duty well and ultimately earn God’s praise.