Xie Li, America
I used to be someone who would chase after the trends of the world, I wanted to abandon myself to a life of pleasure, and I just cared about the pleasures of the flesh. I would often go with my friends to KTV all night long, I would go for joyrides in the middle of the night, I would go fishing out on the ocean, and travel all around in search of fine foods. I’d see others around me, and they too were all striving to eat well, wear nice things, and enjoy good things. I felt that these were the things that a man must work for in his life, that this is why you must work hard to earn money, that this is the goal in life that everyone should have. Only with these things would life not be in vain. In order to obtain these things, I didn’t care what distance I had to travel, so I crossed the ocean to come to America, and after struggling for several years, I opened my own business. I had my own car and my own house. I was living the blessed life that I had dreamed about. Every day I would eat, drink and pursue pleasures until I was full and my heart was content. I thought that it was only by living in this way that life had any meaning, and that is until I received the work of Almighty God in the last days. Only after experiencing the judgment and chastisement of God did I become aware of what a truly significant life is, and then I set out walking down the bright path of life.
In May of 2016, my wife passed on to me the gospel of the kingdom of Almighty God. Through reading the word of Almighty God, I became aware of God’s six-thousand-year management plan to save mankind, and I also came to understand that Almighty God is the Jehovah God who led the Israelites out of Egypt, that He is also the Lord Jesus who redeemed mankind by being nailed to the cross, and that now He has returned in the flesh to express the truth and carry out the work of judging, cleansing and saving man…. Before too long, I started participating in church life at the Church of Almighty God and there I came into contact with the brothers and sisters of the Church of Almighty God. I saw that they were all very sincere, there was no pretense or empty pleasantry in the words that they spoke, and to be in contact with them gave me a feeling of liberation that I had never felt before.
When I started attending church gatherings I felt fresh, and I wanted to gather together with the brothers and sisters and properly pursue the truth and pursue a change in my life disposition. But, since up until this time I had coveted the comforts of the flesh and pursued life’s pleasures, I couldn’t help myself even though I had the desire to congregate and pursue the truth. One time when a friend invited me over for dinner, it was during the same time as a church gathering, which made me feel very conflicted inside. Should I go or should I not go? I thought this question over to myself: It has been a long time since I went out to have fun. It isn’t easy for my friend to invite me today, so I should go. After all, my friends don’t invite me out every day, and I can just go to the church gathering next time. So, I claimed that I had something to do and dropped my plan to go to the church gathering and instead went out to the dinner. We ate, we drank, we went to KTV, but on the way back home I didn’t feel any sense of happiness inside. Deep in my heart I felt a kind of indescribable emptiness, and I also had feelings of guilt. I thought back to the past. When I was at the meal with friends and fellow villagers they were all extra cordial to me at the dinner table, but behind my back they were racking their brains, scheming, trying to figure out how to swindle me for my money. Dealing with all of them made me feel so tired. I simply could not find anyone to talk to about the things that I cared about. I went out today and drank and ate to my heart’s content, and I have also satisfied my friends, but what did I really gain? I felt empty and helpless, I felt that I had let God down, and I felt sorry to my brothers and sisters.
However, this emptiness in my spirit, this feeling of self-blame I had still could not free me from the enticements of the world of sensual pleasures. In my heart I was still yearning to abandon myself to a life of pleasure, to things that belong to the flesh, but God arranged things and set up an environment in a practical way to change these erroneous views on pursuing. With National Day coming, my wife suggested to me: “Let’s just have a simple celebration, and then with whatever time we have left over we can read some more of the word of God and watch some videos from God’s family so that we can be equipped with more of the truth and understand God’s grace of salvation.” But I did not really take my wife’s words to heart, and instead started making preparations for how I was going to celebrate the holidays. I carefully chose what route I was going to take, and I went to the market and bought all the food and other things I would need. I decided to go with my wife to the seaside and have our own little barbecue. So when National Day came I brought my wife with me and we set out happily in the car. However, everything was not going according to plan, there was a traffic jam the entire way, and halfway through the trip we realized that the GPS was not working properly so we were going the wrong way. It was not easy to get to our destination, and in the end, once we got to the seaside the winds were very strong, making it impossible for us to have our barbecue. So my wife asked me to turn the car around and go back home, but I was not willing to do so. I insisted that we keep on driving in search of a nearby park where we could have our barbecue, but the three parks we went to were filled with people, and there wasn’t even anywhere to park. Only after all this did I reluctantly turn around to drive back home. The road home was just as heavily trafficked as before. We had originally set out to barbecue for lunch, but it was now already past 4 p.m. and we still had not cooked anything. We were starving. Ordinarily I feel that I’m in the right and full of self-confidence, and at this time I did not have a temper, and there was nothing that I wanted to say. I just sat in silence and drove back feeling unhappy. It was at this time that the car in front of me suddenly slammed on their brakes, and so I had to quickly step on mine. Although I didn’t hit the car in front of me, I was rear-ended by the car behind me. Fortunately, nobody got hurt, and only the surface of the car got a little dinged up. I knew that God permitted this event, I was not looking to blame the other driver, and so I just drove off. I thought to myself: Hey, all those careful plans I made for the holiday were a wasted effort, it really is true that plans can never keep pace with changes, and everything is arranged by God. I really should not have gone out today to abandon myself to life’s pleasures. I should not have relied on my own temperament!
When we arrived back home my wife and I read several passages from the word of God together: “More and more people treat records of the work of God and His words during the Old Testament age as myths and legends. In their hearts, people become indifferent to the dignity and greatness of God, to the tenet that God exists and holds dominion over all things. The survival of mankind and the fate of countries and nations are no longer important to them. Man lives in a hollow world only concerned with eating, drinking, and the pursuit of pleasure. … Few people take it upon themselves to seek out where God does His work today, or to look for how He presides over and arranges the destination of man” (“God Presides Over the Fate of All Mankind” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “One that is becoming more and more so. When people look upon the world, their hearts are drawn to it, and many are unable to extricate themselves from it…. If you do not strive for progress, and are without ideals, you will be swept away by this sinful wave” (“Practice (2)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). The words of Almighty God make the essence of the trends of the world very plain and clear. The trends of the world are just Satan seducing man and making him depraved. They are just tricks and schemes meant to devour man. Satan just uses eating, drinking, the pursuit of pleasure and other things that conform to the flesh to deceive man and tie man down. Once man’s heart becomes possessed by these things that belong to the flesh he will no longer be inclined to pursue positive things, and he will become more and more distant from God, which will cause him to be devoured and captured by Satan. Through reading the word of God I came to realize that my views on pursuing were all completely wrong. Regardless of what I’m concerned with, whether it be eating, drinking, pursuing pleasures of the flesh or seeking a life where I am above others, these things are all a result of Satan corrupting the human race. I have confirmed through my own experiences that when one pursues these things that belong to Satan they will only become more and more depraved, and more and more loose and debauched. It will just add to their greed, their selfishness, their wickedness and their treachery. They will be living in sin, and they will be without normal humanity. Even if man enjoys more and more of these things, even if man obtains more and more of these things, in the end, they will still be in an empty space. If man possessed all these things but did not come before God, life would still be in vain, and it would be without significance or value. Only by coming before God and believing in God and worshiping God will man be going down the path of living a proper life, and only then will man free himself from a life of emptiness and evil. So, I decided to change the way I live my life and walk down the right path of life.
When I saw my brothers and sisters actively expending themselves for God, when I saw their devotion to performing their duties and their pursuit of meaningful lives I too then felt the desire to pursue these things and live the way that true people live as required by God. So, in addition to regular gatherings, I also wanted to find the time to perform my own duties. It was at this time that the church arranged some duties for me. They wanted me to drive a car to take two of our sisters somewhere, and they wanted me to pick them back up next week. The first time that this duty was handed down to me, I happily agreed to it. But when the brothers and sisters who assigned this task to me left, I started to have second thoughts and even felt some regrets: “Oh man, the day I’m supposed to take these sisters is supposed to be my day off, and next week I have to go pick them up. I’ll have to wake up super early on those two days. It doesn’t matter how long the trip is, but the important thing is that it’s really easy for that road to get congested with traffic. It’s best to go early in the morning because then there are fewer cars, but who’s to say how long I’ll be stuck in traffic on the way back? All my time will be wasted sitting in traffic, and I won’t have my day off….” When my wife heard me complain like this, she fellowshiped with me: “Performing your duties is not as simple as what you’ve imagined. It definitely will involve you putting the truth into practice. To practice the truth is to forsake the flesh, and it means you will suffer hardships and pay a price. Think about it, you used to go out and drink, eat and pursue pleasures, and even if you didn’t really have fun after a tiring day, you would never complain. But now you have been assigned a task and need to spend some of your time on it, and you need to go down a path that has hardships, but in your heart you do not want to do this. This duty, although on the outside it seems like something that was arranged for you by your brothers and sisters, in reality it’s not for a particular person you are performing this duty, but it’s for satisfying God and repaying God’s love. This duty has been given to you today, this is God uplifting of you, and this is God’s love coming down on you. You ought to cherish this. Don’t leave yourself regrets on your first duty.” After she said this, she read me a passage of God’s word: “Everything you do requires you to pay a certain price in your efforts. Without actual hardship, you can’t satisfy God, it does not even come close to satisfying God, and they are nothing but empty slogans! Can these empty slogans satisfy God? When God and Satan do battle in the spiritual realm, how should you satisfy God, and how should you stand firm in your testimony to Him? You should know that everything that happens to you is a great trial and the time when God needs you to bear testimony. Externally, they might not seem like a big deal, but when these things happen they show whether or not you love God. If you do, you will be able to stand firm in your testimony to Him, and if you have not put the love of Him into practice, this shows you are not someone who puts the truth into practice, that you are without the truth, and without life, that you are chaff! Everything that happens to people is when God needs them to stand firm in their testimony to Him. Nothing major has happened to you at the moment, and you do not bear great testimony, but every detail of your daily life relates to the testimony to God” (“Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
When I finished reading the word of Almighty God, when I finished listening to my wife’s words, then I realized that God giving me this duty was Him giving me a real test, to see whether or not I could satisfy God and endure hardships. But what I revealed was that I only considered the interests of my own flesh, that I only considered my personal gains and losses, that I was not willing to suffer and pay a price, that instead I was complaining about things. I saw that I was being extremely selfish, that in my heart fleshly delights like drinking, eating and other pleasures had already surpassed God’s status in my heart. I was perfectly happy to spend whatever I had, to pay any price in order to eat, drink and pursue pleasure, but when I was given a duty that required me to spend my time for God I started to calculate my own gains and losses, and I was unwilling to practice the truth in order to satisfy God. These thoughts and actions of mine would let Satan laugh at me, and not allow me to stand witness before God. After I came to understand these things I quickly came before God and prayed that He could give me the will to ensure that I could forsake my flesh and no longer follow Satan, so that I could stand witness before God and defeat Satan in the spiritual fight that I was in! After I changed my attitude about the duty, in my practical cooperation, I indeed saw God’s blessing. It didn’t matter whether it was when I was taking the sisters to their place or picking them back up, in neither direction did I come across large traffic jams. It had completely exceeded my imagination, and my conceptions were truly countered. I experienced for the first time the feeling of peace and happiness that performing duty brought to me, and I also saw that when people forsake the flesh and practice satisfying God, God will not only pave the way for them, but also allow them to understand the truth and see His deeds. I suddenly felt that this made me happier than going out on vacations or eating extravagant meals. As it turns out, doing this on a day of rest truly isn’t a waste a time. It’s actually quite significant!
Within these practical experiences I was able to know for myself what the sweet taste of forsaking my flesh and performing the duty to satisfy God. I saw that all that God does is in order to save me from the dark influence of Satan, so that one day quite soon I can walk down the right path of pursuing the truth. These things are all of God’s love and God’s salvation. A few days went by and then I received a call from one of the brothers. He asked me whether or not I was willing to go to another state to pick up some brothers and sisters, and I agreed to it without the slightest hesitation. After agreeing to this I did not feel complaints. I was perfectly willing and happy to do what I was supposed to, and the whole trip went unimpeded. After I delivered the brothers and sisters to their destination safely, I felt very proud of myself, because this was the first time that I had performed a duty willingly, without any impurities. This also taught me that performing the duty that a creature ought to perform is truly the most significant thing one can do. I was no longer wanting to drink, eat and pursue pleasures, I was no longer wanting to pursue the pleasures of the flesh, and all I wanted to do was pursue the truth, accept the truth and practice the truth, so that someday soon I can become someone who truly loves God. These little things in my life have come to change me in ways I am unaware of. My life is no longer rotten and depraved like it was in the past. I have started to change and actively work toward things. It’s as if I have started a brand new chapter in my life. In my heart I feel sweetness and pleasure that I have never before experienced, and I am thankful to Almighty God for leading me down the bright path of life. All glory be to Almighty God!