How Not to Be Constrained in Gatherings
In the past, I often actively fellowshiped about my experience and knowledge of God’s words at meetings. But my emotions often swung because of my brothers’ and sisters’ different reactions. Whenever I saw them attentively listening to my fellowshiping and frequently nodding their approval, I would feel elated, whereas when I saw they didn’t respond to my fellowshiping, my heart would sink. However, I didn’t notice these revelations until one meeting.
A Sister’s Words Causing Me to Sink Into Passivity
At a meeting, both a sister and I were just about to fellowship. Just then, the sister beside me touched me on my hand and said to me, “Let’s speak less and listen more. They fellowshiped wonderfully. We can receive the light more.” At that time, I didn’t mind her words and thought that it was right to receive more new light from others’ fellowship. However, after I got back home, her words kept echoing in my mind. I thought the reason why she said so was certainly because my fellowship was deficient and thus she didn’t like to listen to me. Thinking of that, I immediately became very depressed in my spirit.
During the following meetings, whenever I wanted to start my fellowship, I would remember her words, and then I would wimp out with the thought that “I don’t know whether there is light in my understanding. If not, how will my sisters see me?” Especially when I saw my sisters were responsive to the fellowship of a sister, who has not believed in God for as long as I have, my spirit became more depressed. I thought, “My fellowshiping never won such approval. It must be that I didn’t fellowship as wonderfully as she. Forget it, I had best not speak, otherwise they will see that. It’s better to go home and equip myself with the truth. I should only fellowship when I have received much illumination at home.”
Afterward, as long as I was free I would read God’s words. Yet for some unknown reason, I simply could not quiet myself and I even felt increasingly muddle-headed when I read. Every time when I was on my way to attend meetings, I would tell myself in my heart, “This time I must start communicating, no matter what. Otherwise, how will my sisters see me?” But after I arrived at the meeting place, I would get very nervous. My whole mind would be occupied with thoughts of what I was supposed to say when it was my turn to fellowship. When I thought about that, I couldn’t receive any enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. So even if I read God’s words I didn’t understand anything. Once, a sister suddenly said to me, “Arong, we haven’t heard you fellowship of late. Please fellowship what you know. Let’s learn from each other.” Hearing that, I felt so embarrassed that my face was burning and my mind was blank. As a result, I was unable to say anything. So, I hurriedly found an excuse and left.
On my way home, I felt very upset and ill at ease. I thought, “Recently, my state has become increasingly worse. And I couldn’t receive the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit during the meetings. This time, I was even unable to communicate the truth. If this continues, what will my sisters think of me?” The more I thought of that, the more afraid I became, to the point that I was afraid to attend the following meetings.
So, after arriving home, I hurriedly came before God and prayed to Him, “O God! I don’t know what’s happening to me. When I read Your word, I was unable to absorb any of it. And I was unable to communicate any truths in today’s meeting. Now, I’m even afraid of attending meetings. O God! Please inspire and guide me, to have me understand Your will, and to know where I went wrong. May You help me. Amen!”
From God’s Words, I Understood the Root of My Passivity
Thank God for hearing my prayer. Several days later, Axue, a sister who got along well with me, came to visit me at home. I told her about my circumstances. Then she said, “I think you have been constrained by vanity. You have spent too much time worrying about what other people think of you. So you have no way to gain the work of the Holy Spirit and thus live in the darkness.” After hearing her words, I felt surprised, thinking, “Could it be that the reason why I couldn’t receive enlightenment is that I’ve lost the work of the Holy Spirit?” At that time, she read two passages of God’s words to me. God says, “There is a bad condition within man: depression, negativity, or weakness; or fragility; or good-for-nothingness; or persistent base intent; or always being in the thrall of worrying about face, selfish desires, and one’s own benefit; or low self-worth. There are some negative conditions in which you are always in thrall to these things. When you live within these vexing conditions, it’s very difficult for you to obtain the work of the Holy Spirit.”
“You must first surrender yourself and set aside the things that you love and treasure. If you do not set those aside but continue to carry those things while still seeking to make requests of God, can you gain the work of the Holy Spirit? The work of the Holy Spirit is conditional, and God is a God who hates evil and who is pure and holy. If people always carry these things and close themselves off from God, always refuse God’s work and guidance, then God will stop working in them” (“You Can Obtain Truth After Turning Your True Heart Over to God” in Records of Christ’s Talks).
Then she fellowshiped this, “From God’s words we know that when we are living in a wrong state, that is, our hearts are occupied with wrong intentions, desires and so on, the Holy Spirit will conceal Himself from us. Then we will not receive enlightenment and illumination when reading God’s words and naturally our spirits will wither and sink downward. If we don’t put these wrong intentions aside, even if wemore, the Holy Spirit will not do work in us, because God is holy and knows our hearts. Take fellowshiping God’s words in gatherings, for example. If our intentions are not to exalt and testify God or to understand more truths, but to gain our brothers’ and sisters’ praise and approval or to make them look up to and admire us, how is it possible that God is pleased with us? How could the Holy Spirit work in us? Therefore, it is just because of our wrong intentions that God covers His face from us.”
I was astounded at her fellowshiping. Then I recalled my consistent performance at the meetings. When my sisters nodded their approval to my fellowshiping, I would feel elated; when they didn’t make any response to my fellowshiping, I would feel frustrated; when the sister suggested that I hear others’ communion more, I felt my fellowship was deficient in her eyes, so I didn’t dare to communicate God’s words anymore for fear that my fellowship wouldn’t be confirmed by others. As a result, I gave up communicating what I had been enlightened. Gradually, my spirit grew darker and darker. Even when the sister asked me by name to fellowship God’s words, I became so embarrassed that I found an excuse and then left. From my performance, I saw that when I was bound by face and status, I was living in the middle of Satan’s trickery. Though I was in the church, my heart was bound by Satan’s corrupt disposition. Thus how could I get the chance to receive the work of the Holy Spirit? No wonder that I did not receive any enlightenment or illumination when reading God’s words. It turned out that my intentions were indeed wrong.
Finding the Way to Practice
Afterward, Axue read two more passages of God’s words to me. God says, “Those who are capable of putting the truth into practice can accept God’s scrutiny in their actions, and when you accept God’s scrutiny, your heart is set right. If you only ever do things for others to see and do not accept God’s scrutiny, do you have God in your heart? People like this are without a God-fearing heart.”
“What are the behavioral manifestations of turning over one’s heart? What are specific actions involved? It is that you set aside these things that can bind you: face, reputation, and status. You set aside all these things that can hinder your coming into God’s presence. You are not carrying a burden but rather come into God’s presence with two empty hands to accept your duty and allow God to work in you and guide you. If you have this true heart, then as soon as God sees it, the Holy Spirit will work” (“You Can Obtain Truth After Turning Your True Heart Over to God” in Records of Christ’s Talks).
After she had finished reading from the word of God, she said, “God’s words point out to us the way of practice to shake off the binds of vanity. That is, when we speak or act, we should not care how others view us but rectify our motivations, pay attention to living in the presence of God—accepting God’s observation in everything and doing things in front of God. When we are aware that we have lived within face and status, we should actively pray to God, rely on Him and ask Him to help us leave behind our wrong intentions and desires. This way, when He sees our true heart, then the Holy Spirit will work on us and enlighten and guide us. Besides, we need to know, actually, that communicating God’s words at meetings is a way that we brothers and sisters learn from each other, because the enlightenment and guidance God gives us are different. If we can put our heart right to bear witness to God’s deeds in us in a simple-hearted way and to learn from others’ fellowshiping to improve upon our shortcomings, then we will gain much and our life will progress quickly.”
After hearing her fellowship, my heart felt light. So I offered my thanks to God in my heart. I knew God had listened to my prayer and found her to help me and let me know myself and know how to shake off the binds of vanity. Then I made a resolution: “From now on, I will not fellowship to gain others’ approval and esteem. Instead, I will put my heart right, do it in front of God and communicate only as much of God’s words as I understand and just concern myself with performing my duty.”
Breaking Through the Control of Face, My Heart Became Released and Free
Soon, a meeting day came. The brothers and sisters attending the meeting were more than before. Some of them were onsite, some online. Seeing that, I couldn’t help getting nervous. But I thought of God’s words I read before, so I told myself, “Put my heart right and accept God’s observation.” Then my heart became calm little by little. Accordingly, I felt God was always by my side, and as long as I was willing to practice the truth and betray my flesh in that environment, God would lead me to break through the bondage and control of vanity. Thus, I went to the restroom, hurriedly quieted my heart and prayed to God, “O God! In today’s meeting, I’m willing to put my heart right, and forsake my vanity. Please give me faith and courage so that I can suffer no restraint and have a simple and honest heart, communicate only as much of Your words as I understand, learn from others and thus get something out of the meeting.”
During the meeting, I obtained some light through pondering God’s words. Then I picked up the microphone and fellowshiped my understanding. During the process, I still felt somewhat nervous. But when I thought what I fellowshiped was the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, which was bearing witness to God, I put my heart right and fellowshiped the truth in front of God. With that, I felt greatly relaxed and released, and it seemed that the massive stone that had been pressing down on my heart was suddenly lifted.
From then on, I was not bound by vanity anymore at meetings and I once again received the Holy Spirit’s work. Every time I fellowshiped my understanding of God’s words with my brothers and sisters, I felt incomparably sweet in my heart.
Reflections on My Experience
Through that experience, I felt God’s genuineness. God is closer than we think. He is by our side all along, inseparable from us. When I was bound by vanity and fell into darkness, He found Sister Axue to help me so that I could understand His will; when I was willing to practice the truth to satisfy Him, He granted me power and led me to break through the bondage and shackle of vanity, so that I no longer felt constrained when fellowshiping at meetings. Reflecting on the whole process, I feel so happy because God was leading and accompanying me.