37. God’s Words Have Shaken My Spirit Awake
By Nannan, the United States
Almighty God says, “In God’s current stage of work in these, the last days, He no longer just bestows grace and blessings on man like He did before, nor does He coax man to move forward. During this stage of work, what has man seen from all the aspects of God’s work that he has experienced? Man has seen God’s love and God’s judgment and chastisement. During this period of time, God provides for, supports, enlightens and guides man, so that man gradually comes to know His intentions, to know the words He speaks and the truth He bestows on man. … The judgment and chastisement of God allow people to gradually come to know mankind’s corruption and satanic essence. That which God provides, His enlightenment of man and His guidance all allow mankind to know more and more the essence of truth, and to increasingly know what people need, what road they should take, what they live for, the value and meaning of their lives, and how to walk the road ahead. … When man’s heart is revived, man no longer wishes to live with a degenerate, corrupt disposition, but wishes instead to pursue the truth in order to satisfy God. When man’s heart has been awakened, man is then able to tear himself fully away from Satan. No longer will he be harmed by Satan, no longer controlled or fooled by it. Instead, man can proactively cooperate in God’s work and His words to satisfy the heart of God, thus attaining fear of God and shunning evil. This is the original purpose of God’s work” (“God Himself, the Unique VI” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I have some experience of this passage of God’s words.
In June of 2016, I was assigned to do my duty on the English recitation team, and was feeling really happy, because I was finally going to get to put my English skills to work. My skills would be on full display! I couldn’t wait to tell my brothers and sisters back home, and let them know the good news. I even fantasized about the envious looks on their faces when they learned of it.
After I started on the duty, I noticed that the other brothers and sisters read English really fluently and had great pronunciation. They would often speak with each other in English, and even during gatherings and while fulfilling duties, they would communicate all in English. My English was not nearly as good as theirs. I felt both envious and anxious, but I said to myself: As long as I study hard, one day I’ll be as good as or even better than them! So I started getting up extra early and staying up extra late to study English and memorize vocabulary. I was constantly thinking about how I could improve my work performance. Whenever I heard anyone sharing their work experience, I’d get out my pen and start taking notes. But in no time many months had passed, and I was still progressing the slowest and performing the worst of everyone on the team. Knowing that I wasn’t fulfilling my duties, and that I often had to get tips and help from younger brothers and sisters, plus the fact that the team leader often assigned me menial, routine work during that time, left me feeling like I was totally dispensable to the team. I became really dejected and upset. Later on, a new sister came to work on our team. She was unfamiliar with our team’s duties, so I was asked to help her. I secretly rejoiced that I wasn’t the least skilled one on our team anymore. But to my surprise this sister was talented and a quick study, so her English rapidly improved. Within two or three months, she was already outperforming me. This made me panic: “At this rate, I’m soon going to be the worst member of our team again. It is understandable that I’m not performing as well as other members who have been working for longer. Now this rookie has come in and I’m asked to help her, but in no time at all she is already better than me. It was humiliating!” I was living day-to-day competing for status and prestige and I constantly felt uneasy. I passed my days in utter misery. I started to miss the old days fulfilling duties in my hometown. I used to be the one leading discussions and planning. My brothers and sisters all agreed with my views and the church leaders held me in high favor. I used to be someone important, but now I’d fallen so low. The more I thought about it, the more aggrieved and wronged I felt. One time, I ended up hiding in the bathroom and crying. That night, in my bed I kept tossing and turning and couldn’t get to sleep. I couldn’t stop thinking, “I’ve been the worst member of my team since day one. What must the other brothers and sisters think of me? I don’t want to stay here.” But then I thought about how I had made a solemn oath to God, to expend myself for Him to repay His love for as long as I live. If I were really to abandon my duties, wouldn’t I be going back on my promise? Wouldn’t I be cheating and betraying God? I felt so upset, and so I prayed to God, I said: “Dear God, I’m not sure how to get through this situation or what to learn from it. Please guide and enlighten me.”
After that, I went on my phone and read this passage of God’s words: “In your seeking, you have too many individual notions, hopes, and futures. The current work is in order to deal with your desire for status and your extravagant desires. Hopes, status, and notions are all classic representations of satanic disposition. The reason that these things exist in people’s hearts is entirely because Satan’s poison is always corroding people’s thoughts, and always people are unable to shake off these temptations of Satan. They are living in the midst of sin yet do not believe it to be sin, and still they think: ‘We believe in God, so He must bestow blessings on us and arrange everything for us appropriately. We believe in God, so we must be superior to others, and we must have more status and more of a future than anyone else. Since we believe in God, He must give us limitless blessings. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be called believing in God.’ For many years, the thoughts that people have relied upon for their survival have been corroding their hearts to the point that they have become treacherous, cowardly, and despicable. Not only do they lack willpower and resolve, but they have also become greedy, arrogant, and willful. They are utterly lacking any resolve that transcends the self, and even more, they don’t have a bit of courage to shake off the strictures of these dark influences. People’s thoughts and lives are so rotten that their perspectives on believing in God are still unbearably hideous, and even when people speak of their perspectives on belief in God it is simply unbearable to hear. People are all cowardly, incompetent, despicable, and fragile. They do not feel disgust for the forces of darkness, and they do not feel love for the light and the truth; instead, they do their utmost to expel them” (“Why Are You Unwilling to Be a Foil?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words perfectly explained my situation! Wasn’t I in so much pain and even resisting fulfilling my duties and wanting to abandon my duties and betray God because my desire for status hadn’t been satisfied? Ever since I joined the team, the reason I’d been studying English so hard to improve my work performance was that I just wanted to prove myself and stand out on the team. Seeing the new sister improve so quickly, I worried that she would outperform me, and that I would once again be the worst on the team. I spent all day stressing out about status and lived in utter misery. Looking at God’s words “the thoughts that people have relied upon for their survival have been corroding their hearts,” I asked myself: “Why am I striving for status? What thoughts are causing me all this misery?” Only after pondering God’s words did I realize that I was living according to satanic maxims like “Stand out above the rest, and bring honor to your ancestors,” “Man struggles upwards; water flows downwards,” and “In all the universe, only I reign supreme.” From a young age we are taught by our teachers to excel, to be the best of the best. I always really looked up to and envied prestigious and famous people, and I wanted to be just like them. Wherever I was, I’d always wanted people to think highly of me, and if they all admired, supported and praised me, then even better. I thought this was the way to live an enjoyable and worthwhile life. When I didn’t win the admiration and praise of others, life was miserable, and I would feel so down. After I began fulfilling my duties in God’s house, I still pursued these things. But when I didn’t see much improvement or win the others’ praise and admiration, I became pessimistic, dejected and disheartened. I even thought about abandoning my duties and betraying God. I had become completely consumed by my obsession with prestige. I would suffer any hardship and fight any battle to attain it, to the point where my whole world revolved around this one thing. It was then that I realized I was striving after the wrong thing. I wasn’t fulfilling my duties to pursue the truth and repay God’s love, I was only doing so to satisfy my own desire for prestige and status.
The revelations in God’s words showed me how my pursuit was misguided. Later, I read this passage of God’s words: “For each of you fulfilling your duty, no matter how profoundly you understand the truth, if you wish to enter truth reality, then the simplest way to practice is to think of the interests of God’s house in everything you do, and to let go of your selfish desires, your individual intent, motives, prestige, and status. Put the interests of God’s house first—this is the least you should do. … In addition, if you can fulfill your responsibilities, perform your obligations and duties, set aside your selfish desires, set aside your own intents and motives, have consideration for God’s will, and put the interests of God and His house first, then after experiencing this for a while, you will feel that this is a good way to live. It is living straightforwardly and honestly, without being a base person or a good-for-nothing, and living justly and honorably rather than being narrow-minded or mean. You will feel that this is how a person should live and act. Gradually, the desire within your heart to gratify your own interests will lessen” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks). After reading God’s words, I realized that being admired by others isn’t important. Submitting to God’s sovereignty and plans, upholding the work of God’s house, practicing the truth and fulfilling one’s duties—this is what’s really important, and this is how to live openly and honestly. After I understood God’s will, I felt a great sense of release. I was still the worst-performing member of our team, but I didn’t feel so bad about it anymore. And when something hurt my prestige and status, I wasn’t as weak as I had been. I would consciously pray to God and forsake my wrong motives, and I was able to settle down and fulfill my duties. But Satan’s venom had taken root deep within me and become my very nature. Just understanding was not enough to uproot it. I still needed to experience more judgment and refinement to be cleansed and changed.
Our team leader assigned Sisters Liu and Zhang to supervise our work because they both had strong professional skill sets. I was both envious and jealous. It seemed like such a mark of prestige to coach other brothers and sisters. Why couldn’t I be like them? All I could do was the busy work that didn’t take any skill. Later on, I was recommended to do the duty of watering in the team helping others to resolve their difficulties. But I wasn’t at all excited about this prospect and even looked down on this duty. It seemed to me that only people with no real skills got assigned to this duty. If our team performed well, everyone would say it was all because of those two sisters. Who would ever notice me working behind the scenes, fellowshiping on the truth to resolve problems? Because I had the wrong mindset and couldn’t gain the work of the Holy Spirit, I just couldn’t feel motivated to fulfill my duties and sometimes thought to myself: “Why doesn’t my caliber measure up to everyone else’s? What am I good at? When will I get to put my skills on full display?” Gradually, I began feeling more and more resistant and agitated. Pretty soon, whenever Sister Zhang asked me in passing to close a door or open a window, I felt like losing my temper. I thought: “How long have you been a believer? You’re just a little bit better at skills, that’s all. Does that qualify you to boss me around?” In the end, I just ignored Sister Zhang when she spoke with me. Sometimes when she asked me a question, I would just pretend that I hadn’t heard her. If I did respond, it wasn’t said nicely. When I saw that she was feeling restrained as a result, I did feel bad, but when it came to matters of status and prestige, I still let my emotions get the best of me.
One morning I saw Sister Liu and Sister Zhang going out on a work assignment. They looked really classy and fashionable in their outfits, I became upset and got jealous of them. I thought to myself, “You guys get all the glory while I’m left to toil thanklessly here behind the scenes. No one will ever know how hard I work. …” When the sisters came back that night, everyone else in our team rushed over to greet them, and some even got dinner ready for them. At first, I also wanted to go greet them and ask how things had gone with their work, but when I saw how everyone reacted to them, I got jealous again, and thought: “Those two are getting all the glory once again and now I look even more worthless.” With that thought, I turned and went right back to my room. I couldn’t settle myself down and so I prayed to God. I said: “Dear God, my obsession with status has once again reared its ugly head. I want to let go of my desire for prestige and status but I just can’t. Please show me how to free myself from the bonds of reputation and status.”
The next day, one of the sisters saw I was in a bad state and read me the following passage: “As soon as it touches upon position, face, or reputation, everyone’s heart leaps in anticipation, and each of you always wants to stand out, be famous, and be recognized. Everyone is unwilling to yield, always instead wishing to contend—even though contending is embarrassing and not allowed in God’s house. However, without contention, you still are not content. When you see someone stand out, you feel jealous, hatred, and that it is unfair. ‘Why can’t I stand out? Why is it always that person who gets to stand out, and it’s never my turn?’ You then feel some resentment. You try to repress it, but you cannot. You pray to God and feel better for a while, but then as soon as you encounter this sort of situation again, you cannot overcome it. Does this not display an immature stature? Is not a person’s falling into such states a trap? These are the shackles of Satan’s corrupt nature that bind humans” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words showed me that I hadn’t really changed what I pursued. I still sought reputation, status and to excel above others. Possessed by these things, I always wanted to stand out and be noticed, and to do duties that were important or that required skill. I thought this was the only way I would be respected and valued by others, and be approved and ultimately blessed by God. I was dismissive of any job I thought unimportant and even looked upon my watering duties with disdain. Seeing how the two sisters were assigned important duties while I was just given trifling tasks that would never be noticed, I felt jealous and resentful, and would even complain, blaming God for not giving me a better caliber or skills. How unreasonable I was! Because my desire for status hadn’t been satisfied, I didn’t put much effort into my duty, and would even blow up on my sisters to vent my dissatisfaction. This was no doubt restraining and hurtful to my sisters. The more I reflected on this, the guiltier I felt. I realized how selfish and lacking in humanity I’d been.
Later, I came upon this passage of God’s words: “People always want to have renown or be celebrities; they wish to gain great fame and prestige, and to bring honor to their ancestors. Are these positive things? These are not at all in line with positive things; moreover, they run counter to the law of God’s having dominion over the fate of mankind. Why would I say that? What kind of person does God want? Does He want a person of greatness, a celebrity, a noble person, or a world-shaking person? (No.) So, then, what kind of person does God want? He wants a person with their feet firmly on the ground who seeks to be a qualified creature of God, who can fulfill the duty of a creature, and who can keep to a human’s place” (“Corrupt Dispositions Can Only Be Resolved by Seeking the Truth and Relying on God” in Records of Christ’s Talks). Reflecting on God’s words, I realized that God doesn’t want noble people or earth-shattering talents, but grounded people who can fulfill their duties as creatures of God. God doesn’t require me to have a great caliber or top-notch professional skills, He only asks that I keep to my place and do my best to fulfill my duties. And this was something I could do. God gives every person a different caliber and different talents. As long as we make the best of our abilities, help each other and work together, we’ll fulfill our duties and satisfy God.
I also read these words of God: “I decide the destination of each person not on the basis of age, seniority, amount of suffering, and least of all, the degree to which they invite pity, but according to whether they possess the truth. There is no other choice but this. You must realize that all those who do not follow the will of God shall also be punished. This is an immutable fact” (“Prepare Sufficient Good Deeds for Your Destination” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God is a righteous God; who God commends, and what ending and destination He sets for each person is not based on whether they have prestige or renown, how many people support and approve of them or what they have to draw on. Rather, it’s all based on whether they practice the truth, submit to God, and fulfill their duties as God’s creatures. Take the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees, for example. They had status and influence, many people idolized and followed them, but when the Lord Jesus came to do His work, they didn’t seek the truth or accept God’s work at all. They even wildly condemned and resisted the Lord Jesus to protect their own status and income, ultimately nailing Him to the cross and suffering God’s curses and punishment. I also thought of Noah—he built the ark as God instructed. At the time, everyone thought he was crazy, but because he listened to God and obeyed Him, he received God’s commendation and survived the flood. Then there was the poor widow in the Bible. The two coins she gave might not have seemed liked much to anyone else, but God commended her, because she gave everything she had to God. Reflecting on these stories, I saw that God is truly righteous. God values people’s sincerity. Only by listening to God’s word, submitting to God, practicing God’s words and fulfilling one’s duty as a creature of God can one live a life of meaning. Striving to be praised by others will only lead us to do evil, resist God and receive His punishment. I realized that God hadn’t arranged for me to do my duty in that environment because He wanted me to suffer or be humiliated, but because He had a plan for me. I was just too obsessed with status, and so I had to experience being exposed and refined in order to really know myself, and to cast off the fetters of prestige and status and live a free and unrestrained life before God. This was the best way for God to transform and purify me, it was God’s love and salvation. At this thought, I prayed to God, “O God, thank You for elaborately arranging these environments to save and cleanse me. I no longer want to live for prestige and status, no matter what duty I’m assigned, no matter how lowly it is in the eyes of others, I’m willing to submit and work together with my brothers and sisters to fulfill our duties.”
Later on, my team needed some people to go out for church affairs. When I heard about it, desire once again welled up inside me. I thought maybe I’d finally get a chance to show myself. While my brothers and sisters were deciding who would go, I kept hoping I’d be chosen, but in the end it was decided to send Sister Liu and Sister Zhang. I felt a bit disappointed. It seemed I’d never have my moment in the sun. I realized I was once again contending for fame, and so I prayed to God and let go of my wrong motives. I thought about how all this time I hadn’t been focusing on my work, but had wasted all this valuable time and energy contending for status, and hadn’t fulfilled my duties in the least. I fought for fame and status every day, and it was a truly awful feeling. It felt as if I’d been tricked by Satan. Status and prestige can really damage people. Actually, all the brothers and sisters on our team have different skills and calibers. God arranged for us to work together because He wanted each of us to put our skills to use, learn from and complement each other and work well together to fulfill our duties. God decided my caliber and stature long ago. What role I play on the team and what function I serve were also preordained by God. So I should just be happy where I am, do the best that I can to fulfill my duty, and be a sensible person who is able to submit to God. After realizing this, I felt much more relaxed. Whenever the two sisters went out for their duty, I would just pray for them and do my best to complete all the routine work so the other sisters could focus on doing their own duties. I also urged my brothers and sisters to attend to their spiritual devotionals so that they would also find time for life entry on top of work. When I started doing things attentively, I felt more grounded and peaceful. I felt I’d grown closer to God and my relationships with my brothers and sisters also normalized. I no longer placed so much importance on prestige and status and I became more open. My heart was full of gratitude to God for this small transformation. It was the judgment and chastisement of God’s words that had awoken my heart, shown me the emptiness and suffering of seeking fame and status, and helped me understand that only by believing in God, pursuing the truth and fulfilling a creation’s duty can we live a meaningful life!