The Losses and Gains in the Meetings
My name is Guozi, and I’m a high school student studying in the United States. I come from a Christian family. When I was one year old, my mother accepted Almighty God’s work in the last days. I remember that when I was very young, my mother often told me, “God created this world, and He created mankind. God loves us the most. Remember to pray to Almighty God when things happen to you, and He will care for and protect you.” Therefore, I was aware of the existence of God from my early childhood, and I also experienced the protection of God when I prayed for things that befell me. But my true knowledge of God and God’s work was gradually gained only after I entered into God’s words in the meetings with my sisters from the Church of Almighty God.
In December, 2015, my mother advised me to attend gatherings with brothers and sisters. She said, “God’s work in the last days will soon reach its end. If you don’t attend meetings and fellowship about God’s words with brothers and sisters, you can hardly understand the truth, much less be perfected by God.” At that time, thinking my mother was just speaking casually, I consented perfunctorily. But I never expected that she really contacted the church, and I was arranged to have meetings online with some sisters. When one sister set the time for the gatherings with me, I felt a strong disinclination. I thought attending meetings every week would take up my spare time and hinder me from going out eating, drinking, and having fun with my friends. I was unwilling to attend meetings from the bottom of my heart, and merely preferred to continue my past life—not to resist the work of Almighty God, to be able towhen encountering things, and to occasionally experience God’s protection. I thought it was enough that I had God in my heart. But feeling ashamed to refuse, I had to consent to it grudgingly. When the time for the meeting arrived, I always felt like making excuses to avoid it. What I feared most was the coming of the gathering on Sunday. Even though I attended the meeting, I still couldn’t quiet my heart. During my prayer, I only said some praises to God or asked God to allow me to get through the exam, and so on. When we began to fellowship about God’s words, I trembled for my turn, for I received no illumination within and had no idea of what to communicate. I only read some sentences in God’s words that I thought crucial, and explained the literal meaning of them, just as when I worked on a Chinese reading comprehension. I didn’t have a right attitude toward God’s words and treated the meetings carelessly, so I didn’t gain anything. The more I did so, the more boring I felt the meetings; and I thought it better to go out and play with my classmates than to attend the meeting. Especially when finding my mobile phone received many messages, I was more unable to resist the desire to go out to play with my classmates or friends. Thereupon I told my mother that I’d like to read God’s words by myself rather than attend meetings. But she said, “If you don’t attend meetings, you simply won’t read God’s words on your own initiative, nor will you understand them. For God’s words are all the reality of the truth, which are different from the books you read at school, and you can only clearly understand them by fellowshiping at the gatherings.” I never realized that having meetings was so important. It would not only urge me to read God’s words, but also enable me to understand the truth better. So I could say nothing more. Yet I was so excessively fond of play that I couldn’t be bothered to forsake the flesh to practice the truth, in spite of having understood a bit of truth. Therefore, later at every gathering, I just went through the motions when communicating about God’s words, and after that, I would start to use my phone, browsing gossip, watching the latest updated TV series, or chatting with my friends sometimes. So, I gained nothing from each meeting.
Once, my mother asked me, “How do you feel about your recent gatherings? Can you understand what your sisters fellowshiped? Do not play with your phone or be absent-minded at the gatherings. Although you have meetings online and your sisters can’t see what you are doing, God is watching your every action all the time. If you never concentrate your attention, God knows it and will discipline you.” Then she read me a passage of God’s words: “Because in order to walk in God’s way, we cannot let go of anything to do with ourselves, or anything that happens around us, even the little things. No matter whether we think we should pay attention to it or not, as long as any matter is facing us we should not let it go. All of it should be viewed as God’s test for us. How’s this kind of attitude? If you have this kind of attitude, then it confirms one fact: Your heart fears God, and your heart is willing to shun evil. If you have this desire to satisfy God, then what you put into practice isn’t far from the standard of fearing God and shunning evil” (“How to Know God’s Disposition and the Result of His Work” in Continuation of The Word Appears in the Flesh). She said to me, “Probably in your opinion, having a look at your phone at the gatherings is just a small matter, and is nothing serious. But it concerns your attitude toward the gathering and God. God is right by man’s side, watching his every action and looking upon his thoughts. Have you ever considered why you constantly feel like playing with your phone at the gatherings? As a matter of fact, in it lies Satan’s trick. God’s intention is to, through the meetings, make you understand more truths so that you can mature in your life soon, and eventually receive God’s salvation. On the contrary, Satan’s attempt is to distance you from God and God’s way. It seduces you through these things you like and prevents you from quieting your heart before God, so that you will have gained nothing ultimately and your life will have been ruined when God’s work ends.” As I listened to my mother, I thought to myself: So there is the truth to be sought even in such a small matter, which concerns man’s attitude toward God. I felt ashamed within, thinking my mother had read my thoughts. Before, I had always thought that I gathered with my sisters online and no one could see me, so I began to play with my phone secretly to satisfy my desire. Not till then did I know God was watching over all of this. Then I developed feelings of guilt and some unease: In the last few meetings, I played with my phone and God saw it all. Will God really discipline me? With my heart full of regret, I immediately prayed and apologized to God, and determined that I would no longer play with my phone during the meetings, and instead, I would ponder God’s words attentively and listen to the other sisters’ fellowship carefully. Thereupon at the following gatherings, I turned off my mobile phone and put it far from me, and then focused my mind on my sisters’ fellowship. Despite the fact that sometimes I still stared blankly or let my mind wander as I listened, I felt I had gained something after every gathering.
However, my desire for play never decreased. After some time, once at a gathering, my hands fairly itched to play with my phone again. I thought to myself: I’ll just give a glance at my phone, only one glance. Then I took my phone and began to play with it. Yet it turned out that, once started, it was difficult to stop. Soon I returned to my former condition. Sometimes I even put aside my computer used for meetings, and picked up my phone to watch the TV plays without scruple. I committed mistakes knowingly and willfully, and such attitude prevented me from receiving the work of the Holy Spirit. Although I was attending the meeting, when it was my turn to communicate, I had no idea of what to say, and I was also unaware of what my sisters had fellowshiped throughout the meeting. Gradually my disinclination to have meetings arose involuntarily. But I was ashamed to tell it to my mother again, and I could only attend the meetings perfunctorily. Later, in a meeting, while I was playing with my phone, I found that I could get the first look at a new TV play only if I downloaded a piece of software. I hesitated a moment, yet still decided to download it. However, as soon as I finished downloading and launched it, my phone screen went black; and when I clicked on it again, it showed me to enter the password. How should I know what the password was? Only after I had searched on the Internet for the reason why my phone’s screen was black, did I realize that I was fooled and that my mobile phone was under the control of others and couldn’t be used anymore. At that moment, I was overcome with regret. Meanwhile, I thought of God’s discipline, and it occurred to me: God observes the depths of man’s heart, and my every action is under God’s eye. I did things that I knew were wrong, so this might be God’s discipline coming upon me. It seems that I really should no longer play with my phone at the gatherings.
When I told my mother this matter, she read such a passage of God’s word to me: “What’s a big matter? What’s a small matter? All matters that involve walking in God’s way aren’t divided into big or small ones. Can you accept that? (We can accept it.) In terms of everyday matters, there are some which people view as very big and significant, and others that are viewed as minor trifles. People often view these big matters as being the very important ones, and they consider them to be sent by God. However, over the course of these big matters playing out, owing to the immature stature of man, and owing to man’s poor caliber, man is often not up to God’s intentions, cannot obtain any revelations, and cannot acquire any actual knowledge that is of value. So far as the small matters are concerned, these are simply overlooked by man, left to slip away little by little. Thus, they have lost many opportunities to be examined before God, to be tested by Him. Should you always overlook these matters and circumstances that God arranges for you, what will this mean? It means that every day, even every moment, you’re always renouncing God’s perfection of you, and God’s leadership. Whenever God arranges a circumstance for you, He is watching in secret, looking upon your heart, looking upon your thoughts and considerations, looking at how you think, looking at how you will act. If you are a careless person—a person who has never been serious about God’s way, God’s word, or the truth—then you won’t be mindful, you won’t pay attention to that which God wants to complete, and that which God demands of you when He arranges circumstances for you. You also won’t know how these everyday matters relate to the truth or God’s intentions. After you face repeated circumstances and repeated trials like this, with God not seeing any achievements to your name, how will God proceed? … there’s only one attitude that God has toward these people. What attitude is this? God spurns this kind of person from the bottom of His heart” (“How to Know God’s Disposition and the Result of His Work” in Continuation of The Word Appears in the Flesh). Looking at God’s words, I thought: This time I truly experienced God’s work and discipline, and saw that God is really by my side watching my every action. I used to think that my corrupt behaviors and thoughts could deceive my sisters, but they could never escape God’s observation. During the gatherings, I knowingly played with my phone and watched TV plays rather than pursuing the truth properly. My behavior is detested by God. Now not only is my phone controlled by others, but I haven’t gained the slightest truth. Meanwhile, time is wasted and my growth in spiritual life is delayed. I also recognized: I have constantly been trying to restrain myself from playing with my phone at the gatherings through my own efforts, yet as it turns out, I’m incapable of overcoming Satan’s temptation. It shows that, if man only relies on himself rather than on God, he can hardly practice the truth and attain fearing God and shunning evil. I am still too immature in my stature now, and thus in the future, all that I need to do is pray to God and rely on God, and only in this way can I quiet my heart in the meetings, and truly attain fearing God and shunning evil.
In the following several months, I used my classmate’s mobile phone. Considering it was not mine, I didn’t dare to download software to the phone as I pleased. At every gathering, I could not but quietly sit there listening to my sisters’ fellowship. At times, I was still disturbed by the desire to play with the phone. Especially when I heard my friends sending me message after message, my curiosity would be aroused and moved me to read them. However, it occurred to me that God was watching my every action, and that when I was having the meeting, if I was not devout or fearful before God, I would be detestable to God. At the thought I immediately drew back my hand every time I stretched it out to the mobile phone. And I prayed to God in my heart, “O God! Help me quiet my heart and free me from Satan’s disturbance.” I tried to calm my heart down while praying to God so that I could carefully listen to my sisters’ fellowship and sharing. In this way, after the gathering, I found I had received a lot of enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit in the words of God, which allowed me to know much about God and His work. Thinking back to the past, I was always unwilling to have meetings, and often avoided attending meetings under the pretext of being too busy with my study and having no time. Whereas now I felt I ought to forsake the flesh and find time to attend meetings. As there was usually not much pressure or homework in my studies, I frequently spent my spare time playing with my phone and watching TV plays. Actually the spare time might well be devoted to having meetings, which would be beneficial to my understanding of the truth. Thus, I requested to attend meetings twice a week. As my attendance doubled, I understood more and more truth, and obtained much more knowledge of God’s words than ever before. With the mobile phone close at hand, I could not help taking a peep at it sometimes, but I would immediately realize that I should forsake the flesh, and then I threw it onto the bed and went on with the meeting. For I was well aware that God was watching my every action in secret, and that I should no longer follow the flesh but instead should revere God in my heart.
Several months were gone, and I felt I had gained a lot. Not only had I grown much in my spiritual life, I also learned to experience God’s work in my life. The most impressive experience to me was: In a math exam, I copied the answers from one of my classmates in order to get a good record, and then the school suspected me of lacking academic integrity, which was so serious a problem as to influence my college entrance. I was at a loss what to do. At that time, a sister, regarding my situation, shared God’s words and communicated God’s will with me at the gathering. She told me that God likes honest people and that only honest people can receive the salvation. Then when I practiced being an honest person on the basis of God’s words, I witnessed God’s deed. I not only got the opportunity to retake the exam, but also obtained a certificate of merit for my “straight A” grades. I have had such experience far more than once. Now I feel increasingly fond of attending gatherings, fellowshiping about God’s words with my sisters, and sharing my experiences of practicing God’s words. Sometimes, while reading God’s words, when I measure my own experiences against God’s words due to the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, I am moved very much in my spirit and can genuinely sigh from deep within: It’s really good to believe in God! Gradually, through these experiences, I, a person who was afraid of having meetings at first, has changed into one who is fond of having meetings, which is all the result achieved by the guidance of God’s words. Thinking back, though I had less time to go out eating, drinking, and having fun with my classmates because of attending meetings, yet I have received God’s supply of spiritual life, which allows me to understand: One will receive God’s blessing by being an honest person and will feel peace and joy by practicing the truth. If one follows his fleshly desires, like playing with the mobile phone during the meetings, it will invite Satan’s affliction and God will not be pleased with him. Through the fellowship about the truth in the meetings, I have realized that God approves of a person who fears God and shuns evil, and that fearing God and shunning evil is the likeness of a real man one should live out. Thanks to the guidance of God, I have gained too much. Thanks be to Almighty God!