What will of God is concealed within the Lord Jesus’ refusal to observe the Sabbath? And what inspiration does it bring to us today?
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 wild goose leaves behind a voice; a man leaves behind a reputation” and “Alive, be man of men; dead, be soul of souls” 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 the last days. 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 believe in God and pursue the truth properly, and live a meaningful life. After that, I persisted in reading every day, and prayed, sang hymns, 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 the church, 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 , my communication of 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: “There is too much of your personal conceptions, hopes, and future prospects in your seeking. This current type of work is to deal with your concern for status and your extravagant desires. It is these hopes, conceptions, and status that are all a classic representation of Satan’s disposition. … For many years, the thoughts which people have lived by have corrupted their hearts, turning them treacherous, cowardly, and despicable. They not only lack perseverance and will, but have also become greedy and arrogant. They do not have the will to transcend themselves at all, much less do they have the courage to break free from the control of dark influences. Their thoughts are corrupted and their lives are corrupted, causing their views of belief in God to remain grotesque. Their views of belief in God, if spoken out, are practically intolerable to ears. All humans are cowardly, incompetent, despicable, and vulnerable. They do not feel loathing for the forces of darkness. They do not love the light and the truth, and instead do their utmost to drive them out” (“Why Are You Not 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 salvation. 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 true way 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 don’t care if you put in a lot of hard work or how big your contributions are, or if your qualifications are high, or if you follow Me everywhere, or if you’re extremely renowned, or if your attitude has improved. As long as you don’t follow My requests, you will never receive My approval” (“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 , 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.”