6. After the Earthquake
By Leny, the Philippines
In July 2019, I accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days. During that time, I read lots of Almighty God’s words, and every time I read them, I felt like God was speaking with me face-to-face. It was so nourishing and I felt gladness and enjoyment. It was a feeling I’d never had before. Later, I learned through gathering and fellowship that while we’re alive, we should have faith, read God’s words, and do a created being’s duty. At that time, even though my dad was opposed to my faith and would lose his temper with me a lot, I didn’t give up going to gatherings, because I knew that was the only way to understand God’s words. My life was so empty before I could read God’s words. His words were what fulfilled me and gave me direction in life.
But before long, I was faced with a temptation. My neighbor asked me to take a job as a sales clerk at the store she worked in, saying I could earn 500 pesos a day. She said she was sure they’d hire me. That sounded like a good income to me. I could afford the things I wanted with that money, and I could help my parents out, too. But if I took that job, I probably wouldn’t be able to attend gatherings normally. I wanted the job and I was reluctant to miss the opportunity to earn money. In the end I couldn’t overcome the temptation of money and I took the job. I only signed a one-month contract, thinking after that I could attend gatherings normally, and in the meantime I could do my best not to delay them. Things didn’t turn out like I expected, though. I didn’t get off until 6 p.m. each day. I had a long commute, so I was really tired by the time I got home. I just didn’t have the energy to attend a gathering. If I got home late, sometimes I missed the gatherings. Over time, I felt like I was growing farther from God, and I felt a nameless fear and unease. I kept a smile on my face, but inside I felt great sorrow. Sometimes I felt such a darkness that I’d start to cry. I felt like all the light in my life had disappeared. I felt sorrowful, and really missed going to gatherings. All that I could do was, when there weren’t any customers, write the words of God that I could remember in my notebook, and read and ponder them when I could. I could feel God’s guidance and help. I often watched the calendar, counting down the days left in my contract. I wanted to be done with that job and start attending gatherings again.
One day I got on Facebook and saw a couple passages of God’s words a brother had sent: “All manner of disasters will befall, one after another; all nations and places will experience calamities: Plague, famine, flood, drought, and earthquakes are everywhere. These disasters are not just happening in one or two places, nor will they be over within a day or two; rather, instead they will expand across a greater and greater area, and become more and more severe. During this time, all manner of insect plagues will arise one after another, and the phenomenon of cannibalism will occur everywhere. This is My judgment upon all nations and peoples” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 65). “My mercy is expressed toward those who love Me and deny themselves. The punishment visited upon the wicked, meanwhile, is precisely proof of My righteous disposition and, even more, testimony to My wrath. When disaster comes, all who oppose Me will weep as they fall victim to famine and plague. Those who have committed all manner of wickedness, but who have followed Me for many years, will not escape paying for their sins; they too, will be plunged into disaster, the like of which has seldom been seen throughout millions of years, and they will live in a constant state of panic and fear. And those of My followers who have shown loyalty to Me will rejoice and applaud My might. They will experience ineffable contentment and live amid joy such as I have never before bestowed upon mankind. For I treasure the good deeds of man and abhor their evil deeds. Since I first began to lead mankind, I have been eagerly hoping to gain a group of people who are of the same mind with Me. Those who are not of the same mind with Me, meanwhile, I never forget; I always loathe them in My heart, awaiting the chance to bring retribution upon them, which I shall relish to see. Now My day has finally come, and I need no longer wait!” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Prepare Sufficient Good Deeds for Your Destination). I could feel the authenticity of God’s words, and I was really scared. I could see what He said being fulfilled. In recent years, the volcano in Mindanao had erupted, and disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, and pandemics were increasing and becoming ever more serious. But at this time I’d decided to make money and pulled away from God. I was afraid that without God’s protection, when disaster fell I would perish. I said a prayer, “God, please forgive me for choosing money, and drawing away from You. I know I went against Your will, but I want to repent.” I told myself it wasn’t too late to repent, I still had a chance to go back to gatherings. I was looking forward to my contract ending so I could take on a duty again.
On December 15, 2019, I remember feeling really apprehensive. I didn’t know why, but I had this feeling of foreboding. I wasn’t in the mood to work—I wanted to go home and get away from the mall. Then a co-worker asked me to go to the restroom with her. A few minutes later, right when we were getting ready to go back into the mall, the ground suddenly started lurching. I saw people running out of the mall. Some were scared out of their wits. Things were falling off the shelves everywhere. Luckily we were right by the exit, so we got out of the building quickly. It was shaking so hard I felt like I was in a cradle. Once I had got to a safe place, I thought back over all of it, how I’d happened to walk out of the mall to go to the restroom right before it started, and how, because lots of people had been there, we’d had to wait outside for a while. The earthquake started just when we’d wanted to go back to the mall. The timing was perfect—God had shielded me from the danger of the earthquake. I was so moved, not because I had survived, but because I felt God’s love and that He was with me. He had saved me from the earthquake. I prayed to God from my heart over and over, “Thank You Almighty God, You saved me!” Lots of thoughts were racing through my mind as I stood outside the mall. I knew that I’d earned some money, but I’d been feeling upset and gloomy. I realized that money isn’t important. It’s no use in disaster. Coming before God and being able to receive His salvation is all that matters. In that moment, I was really longing to go home and join a gathering. I wanted to tell the brothers and sisters about how God guided me away from disaster, and how I’d witnessed His love and His deeds.
On my way home that day, I couldn’t stop wondering: Why had God still protected me even after I pulled away from Him? I opened up the church’s app and saw the words of Almighty God: “God’s love is practical: Through the grace of God, man avoids one disaster after another, and all the while God shows tolerance time and again for man’s weaknesses. 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. All these things that God does are inseparable from His one original purpose. What, then, is this purpose? Why does God use these methods to carry out His work on man? What result does He want to achieve? In other words, what does He want to see in man? What does He want to obtain from man? What God wants to see is that man’s heart can be revived. These methods that He uses to work on man are a continual effort to awaken the heart of man, to awaken man’s spirit, to enable man to understand from where they came, who is guiding, supporting and providing for them, and who has allowed man to live until the present day; they are a means to enable man to understand who is the Creator, whom they should worship, what kind of road they should walk, and in what way man should come before God; they are a means to gradually revive the heart of man, so that man knows God’s heart, understands God’s heart, and comprehends the great care and thought behind His work to save man. 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 themselves fully away from Satan. No longer will they 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” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique VI). Reading God’s words, I was so moved. I felt God’s love and His mercy. I had chosen to give up gatherings and my duty for fleshly pleasures, so I thought God wouldn’t save me. But He had protected me through that earthquake, and I saw that He had not abandoned me. God wanted me to wake up and stop coveting money, to come back before Him, pursue the truth, and fulfill my duty. I felt incredibly lucky. I couldn’t waste that chance from God, but I had to repent, let go of fleshly enjoyments, and go back to doing a created being’s duty in the church.
After my contract ended, I put nearly all my time and energy into my duty. I felt some weaknesses when I ran into problems in my duty, and sometimes I felt very tired and wanted to rest, but then I always thought about how God protected me through the earthquake. No matter how many difficulties I faced, I knew I had to strive to cooperate and do my duty to repay God’s love. I thought that only by doing my duty in this way could I escape the hardship of disasters and have a good destination. Then one day, I watched a testimonial called Through Illness My Motive for Blessings Was Revealed. It was a video of a brother, a long-time believer, who gave up a lot and worked hard, doing his duty until he got seriously ill. He was miserable and even complained. He felt like he’d expended so much, and that God should protect him and show grace to him. So he couldn’t understand why he had gotten so sick. After reading God’s words, he realized he wasn’t doing his duty to pursue the truth and obey God, but to be blessed and get into God’s kingdom. His experience showed me that my performance of my duty might be tainted, too, because I was doing that duty in the hope that God would save me from disaster. I was afraid I was trying to do a deal with God, just like this brother. I asked myself that night: Am I doing my duty to satisfy God, or am I doing it to get God’s grace? My thinking drifted back into the past. After the earthquake, I had been terrified. I had been afraid of falling into disaster. So my longing to get back to doing a duty in the church was just me hoping God would save me from the disasters. I realized then that I had the same motives and outlooks as the brother in the video. He had gone through illness, and I had been through an earthquake. My expenditure hadn’t been to submit to God and satisfy Him either, rather, it was to have Him protect me from disaster, so in the end I could survive and enter His kingdom. I was really upset that night. I really couldn’t accept the thought that I was just doing my duty in exchange for God’s blessings. I wanted so much to be genuine in it. But the reality was that my faith was merely to obtain blessings. I had no fear of God in my heart, and I didn’t obey and worship Him as my Creator.
Later, I sought some relevant words of God, and gained some knowledge of my own misguided pursuits. I read in God’s words: “My deeds are greater in number than the grains of sand on the beaches, and My wisdom surpasses all the sons of Solomon, yet people merely think of Me as a physician of little account and an unknown teacher of man. So many believe in Me only that I might heal them. So many believe in Me only that I might use My powers to drive unclean spirits out from their bodies, and so many believe in Me simply that they might receive peace and joy from Me. So many believe in Me only to demand from Me greater material wealth. So many believe in Me just to spend this life in peace and to be safe and sound in the world to come. So many believe in Me to avoid the suffering of hell and to receive the blessings of heaven. So many believe in Me only for temporary comfort, yet do not seek to gain anything in the world to come. When I brought down My fury upon man and seized all the joy and peace he once possessed, man became doubtful. When I gave unto man the suffering of hell and reclaimed the blessings of heaven, man’s shame turned into anger. When man asked Me to heal him, I paid him no heed and felt abhorrence toward him; man departed from Me to instead seek the way of evil medicine and sorcery. When I took away all that man had demanded from Me, everyone disappeared without a trace. Thus, I say that man has faith in Me because I give too much grace, and there is far too much to gain” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. What Do You Know of Faith?). God’s words revealed my state perfectly. My faith was just to revel in His grace, to have Him save me from disaster. After the earthquake, I let go of my desires for money and pleasure, and came back to my duty in the church, but no matter how much I expended, I was just trying to have God save me and keep me from disaster. I wanted to use my chance to do a duty in exchange for the blessings of God’s kingdom. I was doing a duty only to obtain blessings—I was doing a deal with God. I felt so ashamed and guilty when I saw my despicable motives and wrong outlooks. I prayed to God, “Oh God, I am grateful to You for revealing my corrupt disposition, for letting me know myself and see how corrupt I am. All my effort has been transactional with You. I’ve been deceiving You. Oh God, I don’t want to do my duty just for blessings anymore. I will seek to satisfy You.”
One day, a sister sent me two passages of God’s words which also helped me to have some knowledge of myself. God’s words say, “In your faith in God, what path are you walking now? If you do not, like Peter, seek life, understanding of yourself, and knowledge of God, then you are not walking the path of Peter. These days, most people are in this sort of state: ‘In order to gain blessings, I must expend myself for God and pay a price for Him. In order to gain blessings, I must abandon everything for God; I must complete what He has entrusted me with, and perform my duty well.’ This is dominated by the intention to gain blessings, which is an example of expending oneself for God entirely for the purpose of obtaining rewards from Him and gaining a crown. Such people do not have the truth in their hearts, and surely their understanding merely consists of a few words of doctrine which they show off everywhere they go. Theirs is the path of Paul. The faith of such people is an act of constant toil, and deep down they feel that the more they do, the more it will prove their loyalty to God; that the more they do, the more He will certainly be satisfied; and that the more they do, the more they will deserve to be granted a crown before God, and the greater the blessings they gain will be. They think that if they can endure suffering, preach, and die for Christ, if they can sacrifice their own lives, and if they can complete all of the duties with which God has entrusted them, then they will be those who gain the greatest blessings, and will be certain to be granted crowns. This is precisely what Paul imagined and what he sought; it is the exact path that he walked, and it was under the guidance of such thoughts that he worked to serve God. Do those thoughts and intentions not originate from a satanic nature?” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. How to Walk the Path of Peter). “All corrupt humans live for themselves. Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost—this is the summation of human nature. People believe in God for their own sakes; when they forsake things and expend themselves for God, it is in order to be blessed, and when they are faithful to Him, it is in order to be rewarded. In sum, it is all done for the purpose of being blessed, rewarded, and entering the kingdom of heaven. In society, people work for their own benefit, and in the house of God, they perform a duty in order to be blessed. It is for the sake of gaining blessings that people forsake everything and can withstand much suffering: There is no better evidence of man’s satanic nature” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). I learned from God’s words that lots of people can give up everything to expend for Him, but they don’t pursue the truth, and their intention isn’t to satisfy God, but to receive His blessings. They’re just like Paul. Paul suffered plenty and traveled a lot to spread the gospel of the Lord, but he just wanted to exchange that work and effort for God’s blessings. After he’d done a lot of work, he said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:7–8). Everything Paul did was entirely transactional. It was all for blessings, for rewards, for a crown. He just cared about work, not practicing the truth, and he failed to enter into the reality of God’s words. As a result, his disposition never changed. That’s why God never gave him His approval, even though he did a lot of work. Reflecting on myself, I saw I was just like Paul. I quit my job and gave pretty much all my time and energy to my duty, sometimes just eating one meal a day when I was busy. But none of this was to pursue the truth or to satisfy God. I wasn’t trying to know myself or resolve my corruption while doing my duty. I just wanted God to see how much I was doing, to save me from disasters so in the end I could enter His kingdom and have a good destination. I saw how deeply corrupted by Satan I was, how selfish my nature was, and that everything I did was for myself. I had no devotion or love for God in my heart. I only loved myself. This was so upsetting for me to see. I prayed, “God, please help me change my motives and perspectives in my duty. I want to do my duty the way You require, not for myself.”
I then read another passage of God’s words: “I have no other choice and have been wholeheartedly devoted to you, yet you harbor wicked intentions and are half-hearted toward Me. That is the extent of your duty, your only function. Is this not so? Do you not know that you have utterly failed to perform the duty of a created being? How can you be considered a created being? Is it not clear to you what it is you are expressing and living out? You have failed to fulfill your duty, but you seek to gain the tolerance and bountiful grace of God. Such grace has not been prepared for ones as worthless and base as you, but for those who ask for nothing and gladly sacrifice. People such as you, such mediocrities, are utterly unworthy of enjoying the grace of heaven. Only hardship and interminable punishment shall accompany your days! If you cannot be faithful to Me, your fate shall be one of suffering. If you cannot be accountable to My words and My work, your outcome will be one of punishment. All grace, blessings, and the wonderful life of the kingdom shall have nothing to do with you. This is the end you deserve to meet and a consequence of your own making! Not only do those of ignorance and arrogance not try their best, nor perform their duty, they hold out their hands for grace, as if what they ask for is deserved. And if they fail to gain what they ask for, they become ever less faithful. How can such people be considered reasonable? You are of poor caliber and devoid of reason, completely incapable of fulfilling the duty you ought to fulfill during the work of management. Your worth has already plummeted. Your failure to repay Me for showing you such grace is already an act of extreme rebelliousness, sufficient to condemn you and demonstrate your cowardice, incompetence, baseness, and unworthiness. What entitles you to keep your hands outstretched?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Difference Between the Ministry of God Incarnate and the Duty of Man). I didn’t realize how greedy I’d been until I read that. I’d put a lot of time into my duty, but meanwhile I’d been asking for grace and blessings from God, doing a deal with Him. I wasn’t actually doing my duty and I wasn’t truly a created being. How did I have any right to demand God’s grace? What right did I have to demand that He save me from disaster and let me enter His kingdom? Without the revelation of God’s words, I still wouldn’t have known how rebellious and corrupt I was, or how much God hated my despicable motives for obtaining blessings. I only thought of myself, not God’s will. Someone like me isn’t worthy of God’s blessings and salvation. God’s disposition is holy and righteous. He likes those who are devoted to Him, who can do a duty with a pure heart. But did I have a pure, sincere heart? Not at all. I was so ashamed of my despicable motives and extravagant desires. I didn’t deserve God’s grace or His blessing. I wanted to change myself and my incorrect motives, and hoped that I could put everything I had into my duty to satisfy God.
In a gathering I read a passage of God’s words that really helped me. God’s words say, “There is no correlation between the duty of man and whether he is blessed or cursed. Duty is what man ought to fulfill; it is his heaven-sent vocation, and should not depend on recompense, conditions, or reasons. Only then is he doing his duty. To be blessed is when someone is made perfect and enjoys God’s blessings after experiencing judgment. To be cursed is when someone’s disposition does not change after they have experienced chastisement and judgment, it is when they do not experience being made perfect but are punished. But regardless of whether they are blessed or cursed, created beings should fulfill their duty, doing what they ought to do, and doing what they are able to do; this is the least that a person, a person who pursues God, should do. You should not do your duty only to be blessed, and you should not refuse to act for fear of being cursed. Let Me tell you this one thing: Man’s performance of his duty is what he ought to do, and if he is incapable of performing his duty, then this is his rebelliousness. It is through the process of doing his duty that man is gradually changed, and it is through this process that he demonstrates his loyalty. As such, the more you are able to do your duty, the more truth you shall receive, and the more real your expression shall become” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Difference Between the Ministry of God Incarnate and the Duty of Man). Since I’m a created being, I should do my duty—that’s my responsibility and my obligation. I shouldn’t be making a deal with God or demanding blessings from God, and I shouldn’t be thinking of whether I’ll be saved or punished in the end. I just need to think of how to do my duty well. I used to think God wouldn’t punish me as long as I did a duty, and He wouldn’t let me fall into disaster, either. I thought He’d only punish people who don’t follow Him or do a duty, so I tried to use my duty as a bargaining chip for God’s protection. Then I realized that a duty is the bare minimum a created being should do. It has nothing to do with being blessed or cursed. As for whether I’m saved or punished in the end, God looks at whether I’ve gained the truth, and whether my disposition has changed. That’s God’s righteous disposition. In the disasters, even if I’m one of those who are injured or killed, I should still submit to God’s rule and arrangements, and never blame God. And I should no longer try to exchange the performance of my duty for survival of disasters. That’s not doing a created being’s duty. I should offer myself up to God and do a duty for nothing in return, because I am merely a created being. In my duty after that, I was constantly examining my motives and reminding myself that I shouldn’t be doing it for myself, but to satisfy God and bring Him joy.
The greatest thanks to Almighty God! He used these situations to reveal my corrupt disposition and mistaken viewpoints, to give me some knowledge of my despicable motives to pursue blessings, and to bring some changes in my viewpoints on faith. Now I do not want to do a duty to get grace from God or escape disaster, I just want to really pursue the truth and do the duty of a created being to repay God’s love. Thank God for saving me!