68. Throwing off Shackles
I used to firmly believe in the saying, “Only by experiencing the hardest hardships can one rise above the ordinary,” thinking that it was a way of displaying motivation. Therefore, no matter what I was doing, I never wanted to fall behind. I was willing to accept any hardship as long as it meant I could rise above everyone else. After I accepted God, my attitude remained the same. But when God revealed the truth to me, I finally realized that this perspective is incorrect, and that it was Satan’s shackles that had bound and harmed me.
Not too long ago, the church sent Sister Xie who I partnered with to another area to fulfill her duty as leader. Upon hearing the news, my heart sank, thinking: “At first, we were both demoted from being leaders. Now my sister will be returning to serve God in a leadership position and her growth potential will be unlimited, but I will still be here performing my duty in obscurity. What future will there be in that?” But then I thought, “As people say, ‘There are a million different paths to success.’ As long as I fulfill my duty properly, will I not also be successful? If I redouble my efforts at pursuing the truth, maybe one day the leaders will see that I understand the truth. Then they’ll promote me and my future will be equally bright.” After this realization, the feelings of dejection and loss inside me instantly vanished, and there arose in me the strength to do my absolute best. I threw myself into my duty, and I read God’s word when I was not busy, not daring to slacken for even a moment.
One day, I saw the following passage in a sermon: “Everything that restricts you from pursuing God and pursuing the truth is one of Satan’s shackles. No matter which of Satan’s shackles you are bound by, you are living under its domain” (“Tasks that Servants of God Must Complete” in Sermons and Fellowship III). After reading this, I could not help but ask myself, “Which of Satan’s shackles am I living under? Which of its poisons are hindering my pursuit of the truth?” As I quietly pondered these questions, I thought of my recent state. I had not been passive since Sister Xie was sent off to fulfill her duty as leader. In fact, I became even more devoted to reading God’s word, praying to God, and actively fulfilling my duty. On the surface, I seemed even more diligent in pursuing the truth than before, but if I carefully dissected my motives and goals behind pursuing the truth, I would discover that my ability to accept falling behind was only because I harbored an ambition to become famous and rise above everyone else someday. My burning desire to be the best of the best was the reason I didn’t become passive and instead pursued the truth more actively, but my so-called pursuit of the truth was just an illusion, an impure pursuit. In my delusion, I wished to engage in a short-lived pursuit of the truth to fulfill my own despicable aim of standing out from the crowd. Thinking back on my years spent following God, I realized that all the expending of myself was done under the domination of Satan’s poison of “Only by experiencing the hardest hardships can one rise above the ordinary.” This is how it bound me like an invisible shackle and drove me to strive to stand out from the crowd and become top dog. When I already had a position, I was still pursuing an even higher one. When I lost my position or failed to gain one, although I didn’t become passive and on the outside was bearing hardships and paying the price to pursue the truth to my utmost, I was not bearing hardships in order to gain the truth. I simply wanted to once again gain a chance to stand out. That’s when I finally understood that my stance of “Only by experiencing the hardest hardships can one rise above the ordinary” was actually one of Satan’s poisons deep-rooted in me. I had been tricked; the poison had sapped me of all my humanity. I was arrogant and ambitious with an exaggerated sense of my own abilities, and I myself had been completely unaware of it all. I actually thought my ambition was a testament to my aspiration, and that my arrogant disposition of unwillingness to fall behind was a sign of my motivation. I worshiped Satan’s fallacies as truth and saw them as a badge of honor instead of a scarlet letter. How stupid was I to have been tricked by Satan like that, to have failed to differentiate good from evil? I finally saw just how pathetic I was. I also learned just how insidious and despicable Satan is. Satan uses specious fallacies to deceive and corrupt us. It leads us astray, and we swear fealty to its deceitful schemes. But we live within self-deception and lack awareness, still thinking we’re pursuing the truth and suffering for the truth. Satan’s poisons are harmful indeed! If it hadn’t been for God’s enlightenment, I would never have seen the truth that I was corrupted by Satan, and I certainly would never have seen through its deceitful schemes. If it hadn’t been for God’s enlightenment, I would have kept on living under Satan’s shackles, until Satan eventually consumed me whole.
At that time, I thought of God’s words: “If you are very glad to be a service-doer in the house of God, working diligently and conscientiously in obscurity, always giving and never taking, then I say that you are a loyal saint, because you seek no reward and are simply being an honest person” (“Three Admonitions” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words showed me the way of practice: As one of God’s creations, I should love Him and satisfy Him and devoutly fulfill my duty, rather than living within a satanic corrupt disposition and striving for fame and gain. This is the conscience and sense that one of God’s creations should possess. This is a pursuit that is in line with His will. From this day forward, I will do my best to pursue the truth. I will rely on truth to penetrate Satan’s deceitful schemes and throw off its shackles. No longer will I seek to tower above others. Instead, I will toil in obscurity, fulfilling my duty to satisfy God. Even if I’m left with nothing in the end, I will continue on willingly with nary a regret, because I am just one of God’s insignificant creations. Satisfying the Creator is my true purpose in life.