I Have Only Just Begun Walking the Right Path of Life
Shi Han Hebei Province
I was born to a poor peasant family. I have been sensible since childhood, in that I never fought with other kids and obeyed my parents, which made me a typical “good girl” in the eyes of adults. Other parents were all very envious of my parents, saying that they were lucky to have such a good daughter. And just like this, I grew up every day listening to compliments from the people around me. When I was in the elementary school, my academic record was especially good, and I was always first place in exams. One time, I received full marks in an essay contest held by my town, winning honor for my school. The headmaster not only awarded me a prize and certificate, but also complimented me in front of the entire school and called upon the students to learn from me. I suddenly became the “celebrity” of the school, and my classmates even nicknamed me “ever-victorious general.” The compliments from my teachers, the envy of my classmates, and the doting of my parents gave me a sense of superiority in my heart, and I really enjoyed the feeling of being admired by everyone. Accordingly, I firmly believed that the greatest joy in life was the admiration of others, and that the feeling of happiness came from the praise of others. I secretly told myself: No matter how difficult and exhausting it is, I must become someone with fame and status, and never be looked down upon by others. From then on, dictums such as “A man leaves his name behind wherever he stays, just as a goose utters its cry wherever it flies” and “Men should always strive to be better than their contemporaries” became my life mottos.
However, when I was 13 years old, my father fell seriously ill and was admitted to the hospital, which placed our already poor family under serious debt. When I saw my father moaning in pain from illness and my mother exhausting herself for the sake of our livelihoods, I felt so bad that I wished I would grow up quickly so I could share their sorrow and pain. So I made the painful decision to drop out of school, thinking: Even if I do not go to school, I cannot perform worse than others. I will be a strong and successful woman when I grow up, and then I will still be able to live a great life! Due to my academic excellence, I was kind of a “little celebrity” in my neighborhood. Therefore, when news of me dropping out of school spread, the villagers all started talking about it, saying: “This girl is so foolish! Dropping out of school will destroy her future!” and “No one will respect people without an education. She will suffer from hardship and poverty all her life!” As someone used to receiving compliments since childhood, the dreary feeling that “The fallen phoenix is inferior to the chicken” suddenly came over me. I was afraid to go out, afraid to meet people, afraid of the feeling of being looked down on. To avoid such pain, I barely stepped foot outside my home for two entire years, and I was taciturn all the time. At the same time, my desire of becoming a strong and successful woman grew even stronger, so after another two years, I went out to start working. I worked in a lot of jobs, but I would give up shortly each time because I felt the job was either too tiring and stressful, or the salary was too low, or the boss was not nice. After having failed over and over again, I became thoroughly discouraged and felt that my dream of becoming a strong and successful woman had gotten so very far away from reality.
In 2005, I had the privilege of accepting’s work of . Since then, my lifestyle and even my entire life have completely changed. I saw in the word of God: “The fate of man is controlled by the hands of God. You are incapable of controlling yourself: Despite always rushing and busying about for himself, man remains incapable of controlling himself. If you could know your own prospects, if you could control your own fate, would you still be a creature?” (“Restoring the Normal Life of Man and Taking Him to a Wonderful Destination” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s powerful words deeply touched my heart, making me understand that everyone’s fate is in His hands and not at all controlled by people themselves, and that no matter what time it is, people cannot escape God’s sovereignty and plans, and should be obedient under the authority of God. This is the only way people will have a good fate. What kind of family I was born into, how cultured I am, whether my life is poor or rich—all of these things are predetermined by God. It is not something my mind or abilities can change. I was determined to become a strong and successful woman with all my heart and soul, but despite enduring hardship and suffering, I didn’t even have a stable job. This forces me to admit that what I want is not always achievable through hard work, and must still depend on whether it is allowed by God, and whether the path I walk has been predestined by God. If not, then no matter what price I pay, it will have been in vain. After understanding God’s will, I was no longer frustrated by my experiences, and I no longer cared about what other people said. Instead, I became determined to and pursue properly, and live a meaningful life. After that, I persisted in reading God’s words every day, and prayed, sang , and attended meetings with sisters and brothers. Due to my relatively fast comprehension of the truth and my passionate pursuit, I won the appreciation of the sister who was watering me, which made me feel all flattered inside. After entering , I heard church leaders say I should be a focus of their cultivation, which made me more difficult to restrain the glee in my heart and even gave me an extra spring in my step. So I told myself: I must pursue with all my heart and soul! I cannot let the church leaders down. Even if it is just for my good reputation, I should work hard so I can win back here the fame and status that had eluded me in the outside world. At the time, I did not care about God’s will at all. The only thing on my mind was fame, fortune, and status right in front of me, like dazzling halos constantly waving at me.
Shortly after, I performed the duty of watering the new believers in the church. In order to win high praise from sisters and brothers, and live up to the title “focus of cultivation,” I made up my mind to perform my duty to the best of my ability. I thought that as long as sisters and brothers approved of me, then God would also naturally like me. Due to my “hard work and efforts,” I finally managed to fulfill my wish after a period of time, earning the praise and encouragement of sisters and brothers. I could not help but think: That so many sisters and brothers have approved of me must mean I am better than other people. If the leaders of the church know this, they will certainly promote me and put me in an important position. Then, my future will surely be filled with unlimited potential. Because I lived in complacency and self–satisfaction, I subconsciously began performing my duty in a perfunctory manner and stopped watering new believers with diligence. As a result, some of the new believers were unable to receive real watering and lived in negativity and weakness. I felt very upset in the face of this situation and thought: I have come a long way to acquire the “honor” I have today. How could I let the new believers continue on like this? If the church leaders find out, they will surely say that I am not capable and might even stop my duty as well. Wouldn’t it be all over for me then? I must do something to turn this situation around. In the days that followed, I went outside every day to support the new believers. Sometimes, for the sake of one meeting, I would climb several hills and take three to four hours to walk to and back, but I did not feel bitter at all. After a month, I was exhausted, but because I did not have the work of the [a] status, and the notions are all classic representations of satanic disposition. … 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” (“Why Aren’t You Willing to Be a Foil?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). It was only through the trenchant revelation of God’s words that I realized my view on belief in God had been wrong from the very start. I wanted to use my belief in God to achieve the fame, fortune, and status I failed to obtain in the world, and absurdly thought: I would be promoted and put in an important position as long as I earned the praise of sisters and brothers, and then God would also like me and praise me. Under the dominion of these thoughts, I became weak and despicable. When sisters and brothers praised me, I would become full of confidence, but once I lost these things, I immediately became discouraged and depressed, negative and in retreat. How was this believing in God? All I believed in was fame, fortune, and status! God’s intention was not to train me to become a wonderful working talent, and moreover it was not to let me take advantage of fulfilling my duty to satisfy personal desires. Rather, He hoped I could, through the process of fulfilling my duty, discover my deficiencies and experience God’s words and work, and thus understand and acquire more truth, and ultimately receive God’s . At the same time, it was also so I could use my own experiences and understanding of the truth to supply sisters and brothers who were new believers in God, and help them lay the foundation in the so they might enter the right path of believing in God as soon as possible. However, I never sought God’s intentions as I had always strived for fame and status, and for my own personal ambitions. In the end, I didn’t receive the Holy Spirit’s work at all, so no matter how much effort I put in, I was unable to water the new believers properly. After I was stopped from doing my duty, I became excessively negative and misunderstood God’s intentions, thinking that I had no hope of receiving God’s salvation. It was at this time that I suddenly recalled God’s words: “I do not care how meritorious your hard work is, how impressive your qualifications, how closely you follow Me, how renowned you are, or how improved your attitude; so long as you have not done what I have demanded, you will never be able to win My praise” (“Transgressions Will Take Man to Hell” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Whether one seeks sincerely is not determined by how others judge them or how the people around view them, but by whether the Holy Spirit works upon them and whether they have the presence of the Holy Spirit, and it is all the more determined by whether their disposition changes and whether they have knowledge of God after undergoing the Holy Spirit’s work over a certain period …” (“God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). In God’s words I understood His intentions and requirements. It turned out that my previous belief that a higher status meant a more promising future and more praise from God was measuring God’s work from an earthly viewpoint, which could not have been more wrong. How God measures and determines one’s end is not based on their status, seniority, or the amount of work they did, but whether they gained the truth and whether they achieved dispositional change. If one has not gained the truth or achieved dispositional change through God’s work, then how high their status is or how many people endorse them all becomes meaningless. Not only will they not receive God’s approval, they will also be detested, rejected, and condemned by God. Only by paying attention to knowing themselves and God while fulfilling their duty, and using their real experiences to water and support sisters and brothers, will they be able to resolve the actual problems, find a path to guide sisters and brothers, and make their work effective. Someone like me, who did not pursue their own entry and change at all while working, but instead blindly pursued fame, fortune, and status, ultimately only inflicted harm on more and more sisters and brothers, and would personally be eliminated in the end. When I thought about this, I understood that the stopping of my duty by the church was an environment set up by God targeting my wrong intentions and desires, as well as my corrupt nature, so that I might self-reflect and get to know myself, change my wrong views on pursuit, and follow the right path of pursuing the truth as soon as possible. In that moment, I truly felt God’s love, care, and thought, and could not help but to God: “Oh God! Thank You for bestowing Your great love upon me. I used to not understand Your intentions and thought that the possession of fame, fortune, and status would guarantee Your appreciation. This made me not care at all about entry into the truth during my work. All I did was blindly pursue fame and fortune, which is completely at odds with Your requirements. By the enlightenment of Your word, I now understand Your requirements. I will no longer act in direct contravention to Your work as I had in the past. I will pursue dispositional change and follow the right path of pursuing the truth.”, my communication of God’s word was dull and dry, and as a result the situation of the new believers did not turn around in a timely manner. I felt so tortured over this that I got a headache, but I still did not realize that I should come before God to self-reflect. Due to the long-term ineffectiveness of my work, which caused harm to the life of the new believers, I was eventually sent home. The moment I arrived back home was like falling from the sky to the ground. My whole body felt limp and weak. I thought back to how so many sisters and brothers looked up to me in the past, and yet now I had fallen to such an extent. How would sisters and brothers look at me if they found out? The more I thought about it the more I felt unable to face sisters and brothers, so I refused to go out for meetings and instead stayed at home every day in tears. I was in agony on the inside. One day, I saw the following words of God: “In your seeking, you have too many individual notions, hopes, and futures. The current work is in order to deal with your desire for status and your extravagant desires. The hopes, the desire for
Shortly after, the church again arranged for me to water the new believers, and also had me live together with a young sister. The young sister had a forthright and passionate personality, so I thought: Since I am introverted and don’t like to talk much, while the young sister is extroverted and speaks without reservation, we could use this opportunity to learn from each other’s strong points to offset our weaknesses. Even though I thought this way, there were still some conflicts and misunderstandings in our actual interactions. In order to change this situation, I started speaking and acting more cautiously, fearing that there could be more unpleasant incidents. The young sister usually went to work. Seeing her so busy all the time, I decided to undertake all the household chores to leave her with a good impression and to help maintain our relationship. I never expected that several months later, our relationship actually became more strained, which I found especially depressing and painful. However, I did not introspect and recognize my corruption and instead focused my attention on the young sister, thinking that she was hard to get along with and too unreasonable. One day, when the sister came back from work and saw me doing the chores, she said bluntly that I was just doing this out of zealousness. Upon hearing this, I could no longer stop my tears of grievance from bursting out. At that moment, I really wanted to leave immediately and never come back. But I then thought of how the sister was younger than me, and that she had not believed in God for a long time. If I could not put myself aside, and continued to hold a grudge against her, then how would the leaders of church and other sisters and brothers see me? They would say I showed no love for the young sister and that I was irresponsible. How would I be able to face them then? Facing such a situation, I really had no idea what to do. In pain, I came before God to pray: “Oh God! I am in so much pain. It’s as if there are heavy boulders pressing down on me, making it impossible for me to have the strength to escape. But I believe Your good intentions must lie in this situation that has befallen me. I only beg that You enlighten me so I can understand Your intentions and learn the lesson I should learn.” Soon after the prayer, a sister just happened to come find me, so I opened my heart and communicated with her about my situation. After listening to it, the sister said: “All of God’s work is for the sake of saving mankind, and all the situations that befall us are all meant to train us and perfect us. If we have these negative things inside us, it means we still have some satanic toxins inside us that are despised by God. God will perfect us and change us through these situations….” After the sister left, I tossed and turned in bed and could not fall asleep, thinking: What does God perfect and change in me? Therefore, I got up and read God’s word: “… you can discern a man’s nature and to whom he belongs from his view of life and values. Satan corrupts people through the education and influence of the national governments and the famous and great. Their lies and nonsense have become man’s life and nature. ‘Everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost’ is a well-known satanic saying that has been instilled into everyone and become the human life. There are some other words of life philosophy that are also like this. … There are still many satanic poisons in people’s lives, in their handling things, and in their conduct and dealings with others—they are almost without a shred of truth—for example, their life philosophies, their maxims for success, or their ways of doing things. Every person is filled with the poisons of the great red dragon, and they all come from Satan. So, what flows through people’s bones and blood are all things of Satan” (“How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks). As I contemplated God’s words, I became immersed in thought: Over these last few months, why have I been living in such depression and pain? By which toxins of Satan is my behavior being dominated? Under the enlightenment of God, I felt my heart gradually brighten up inside, making me realize that the reason I had always paid so much attention to fame and status was the influence and confusion of toxins of Satan such as “A man leaves his name behind wherever he stays, just as a goose utters its cry wherever it flies,” “As a tree lives for its bark, a man lives for his face,” and “Men should always strive to be better than their contemporaries.” These satanic toxins unwittingly became the guidelines of my behavior and goals in life, making me falsely believe that only fame and status could make life meaningful and valuable. It was the dominance of these toxins that made me care so much about face and vanity, as well as what others thought of me. Everything I did and said was to maintain my image and status in others people’s hearts. As soon as something impinged on my face or vanity, I would be in pain and torment. All this suffering and bitterness was because of Satan. I recalled that since moving in with the young sister, I had always gotten along with her cautiously in order to leave a good impression, afraid that I would leave a bad impression if I said or did anything wrong. I was therefore living obsequiously and acting like a fool. When the young sister dealt with me, I did not use the opportunity to know myself, but was full of opinions and prejudices against the sister because I didn’t want to lose face, and even wanted to escape this environment. To preserve my image and face, I did not dare to be open with the young sister even when I sometimes saw her reveal a bit of corruption or do something incompatible with the truth, fearing that I might offend her and cause our relationship to become more and more estranged. … These toxins of Satan, however, made me more and more hypocritical and cunning, which made my life very tiring and bitter. I really wished I could break through this dark cage and tear off my fake face, so that I might live with complete freedom and relief. But I could not do it on my own, so I knelt before God and poured my heart out to Him: “Oh God! I used to treat praise and fame as a type of enjoyment. Now I see that I was wrong. Pursuit of these things is not wonderful enjoyment but pain, depression, bondage, and constraint. Now I also see clearly that it was Satan’s philosophies that deceived and controlled me, making me pursue fame, fortune, and status, as well as face and vanity. All my pain has been brought by Satan. Oh God! I really do not want to live by Satan’s philosophies anymore. I beg for Your salvation; show me the right path of practice, and give me the confidence and power to break through Satan’s trap and act in accordance with Your requirements.” After the prayer, I felt unprecedented relief. At the same time, I realized that I could only resolve my corrupt disposition through the pursuit of truth. Afterward, I saw the following passage of God’s word: “If you don’t focus on your relationships with people but maintain a proper relationship with God, if you are willing to give your heart to God and learn to obey Him, very naturally, your relationships with all people will become proper. This way, these relationships aren’t established on the flesh, but on the foundation of God’s love. There are almost no interactions based on the flesh, but in the spirit there is fellowship as well as love, comfort, and provision for one another. This is all done on the foundation of a heart that satisfies God. These relationships aren’t maintained by relying on a human philosophy of life, but they are formed very naturally through the burden for God. They don’t require human effort—they are practiced through the principles of the word of God. Are you willing to be considerate toward the will of God? … Are you willing to completely give your heart to God, and not consider your position among people?” (“Establishing a Proper Relationship With God Is Very Important” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words pointed out a clear way of practice to me, and that was to practice being an honest person and no longer care about fame and fortune or maintain my image and status in people’s hearts. Instead, I should give my heart to God, exalt and witness God’s words in everything, practice the truth, and obey God. That way, I will be able to establish a normal relationship with God. Having a normal relationship with God also naturally results in normal relationships with other people. Hence, I privately made up my mind to act in accordance with God’s words and gradually dispel my corrupt disposition. Since then, I often consciously communicated with the young sister and read God’s words together. If we encountered problems in the performance of our duties that we could not resolve, we would pray to God together and look for answers in God’s words. We got along with each other very well. Before I knew it, the burden on my body and the depression in my heart all evaporated, and a long-awaited smile emerged on my face. I had truly experienced the relief and joy brought by practicing God’s words. I sincerely thank God for saving me.
After these few months of painful refinement, I finally understood why God would not let us use philosophies of life to maintain relationship with other people. It is because all those philosophies of life and so-called dictums are toxins Satan implants in people, and are tools used by Satan to bind and harm people. These satanic philosophies can only make people generate division, conflict, and death, and can only bring people depression and pain. This is because Satan itself is corruption and division, and only God’s words and what He requires of people can enable them to make peace with each other. Only by living in God’s words and acting in accordance with His words can people break through the dark influences of Satan and live with complete freedom and relief before God. At the same time, I also saw that my living together with the young sister was a wonderful arrangement by God, which was set up to target the deep-rooted toxins of Satan inside me and my practical needs. If God had not worked in this way, I would have never recognized the extent of the harm satanic toxins such as “A man leaves his name behind wherever he stays, just as a goose utters its cry wherever it flies” and “As a tree lives for its bark, a man lives for his face” had done to me. I would have still worshiped these toxins as positive things, which would have made me more and more arrogant and corrupted, and ultimately headed for degradation and destruction. These situations and trials were precisely God’s great salvation of me!