11. Knowing God’s Authority and Sovereignty in Life
By Xinxin, the United States
Almighty God says, “Knowledge of God’s authority, God’s power, God’s own identity, and God’s essence cannot be achieved by relying on your imagination. Since you cannot rely on imagination to know the authority of God, then in what way can you achieve a true knowledge of God’s authority? The way to do this is through eating and drinking the words of God, through fellowship, and through experiencing the words of God. Thus, you will have a gradual experience and verification of God’s authority and you will gain a gradual understanding and incremental knowledge of it. This is the only way to achieve the knowledge of God’s authority; there are no shortcuts. Asking you not to imagine is not the same as making you sit passively to await destruction, or stopping you from doing anything. Not using your brain to think and imagine means not using logic to infer, not using knowledge to analyze, not using science as the basis, but instead appreciating, verifying, and confirming that the God you believe in has authority, confirming that He holds sovereignty over your fate, and that His power at all times proves Him to be the true God Himself, through the words of God, through the truth, through everything that you encounter in life. This is the only way that anyone can achieve an understanding of God” (“God Himself, the Unique I” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I used to think going through something major or witnessing miracles was the only way to know God’s authority. My understanding of God’s authority was really limited. I’ve seen from God’s words that what’s most crucial for knowing His authority is experiencing His words in regular life, and by experiencing His words, we’ll see His authority and sovereignty over everything. That’s how our faith in God grows.
Last year there was a sudden, heavy insect infestation on nearly a quarter acre of tomatoes my family had planted and they ate everything—the fruit, the flowers, and the leaves. I was really worried about it and discussed how to get rid of them with my family. Using pesticides would ruin the soil and leave carcinogens behind, which would make anything planted there dangerous to eat. We tried to catch them by hand but they reproduced too quickly. We worked for three or four days but didn’t make a dent. Their numbers just increased. I hurriedly tried other ways to get rid of them. Though I prayed to God when this happened, I didn’t understand God’s authority and rule, so He didn’t have a place in my heart. I didn’t know how to truly rely on God and seek His will. I’d never encountered that particular bug before but I’d grown food for decades and had lots of pest control experience. I figured I could get through this if I kept looking into it. I tried every fix I knew one by one, but I tried six or seven without any results. In all my decades of growing, I’d never seen a bug so hard to get rid of. I’d always been able to take care of infestations in the past, but this time none of my laboriously developed methods were working. A friend later told me that a professor at the agricultural university said neem oil was a good pest deterrent, so I bought some right away, but that didn’t work either. I was out of ideas and I still hadn’t found a solution. I went to check on it every morning over the next couple of days and saw all those tomato plants ravaged by the insects. Some kept dropping their flowers, the tips of some leaves wilted, and some of the fruit was rotting. I was miserable. Brothers and sisters had helped every day to plant those tomatoes. They did lots of work, building trellises, trimming, and staking plants, but just when the tomatoes were flourishing and a great harvest was in sight, these bugs suddenly invaded. I figured that year’s harvest would be a failure. Seeing the plants all covered with insects, I was totally at a loss. My neighbor Wang had a lot of experience with crops and knew a lot about pests, so I thought he might have a solution. I went to ask him, but he said, “I’ve never seen anything like it in all my 30 years of farming. I’ve been spraying pesticides three times a day and it just killed my tomatoes, not the bugs.” Another neighbor, Zhang, said helplessly, “I even mixed three or four pesticides together but nothing will kill them!” Hearing this really plunged me into despair. This was a plague of insects, and there was no way to get rid of them. It seemed my tomatoes would all be destroyed. Feeling helpless, I prayed to God: “Oh God! I don’t know what to do about this outbreak. I’m at a loss. Please enlighten and guide me so I know how I should experience this and what lesson I should learn.”
I read these words from God in a gathering once. “Under God’s sovereignty and control, all things come into being or disappear in accordance with His thoughts; laws arise that govern their existence, and they grow and multiply in keeping with them. No human being or thing is above these laws. Why is this? The only answer is this: It is because of God’s authority. Or, to put it another way, it is because of God’s thoughts and God’s words; because of the personal actions of God Himself. This means that it is God’s authority and God’s mind that give rise to these laws, which shift and change according to His thoughts, and these shifts and changes all occur or fade away for the sake of His plan. Take epidemics, for example. They break out without warning. No one knows their origins or the exact reasons why they happen, and whenever an epidemic reaches a certain place, those who are doomed cannot escape calamity. Human science understands epidemics to be caused by the spread of vicious or harmful microbes, and their speed, range, and method of transmission cannot be predicted or controlled by human science. Though people resist epidemics by every means possible, they cannot control which people or animals are inevitably affected when epidemics break out. The only thing human beings can do is try to prevent them, resist them, and research them. But no one knows the root causes that explain the beginning or ending of any individual epidemic, and no one can control them. Faced with the rise and spread of an epidemic, the first measure humans take is to develop a vaccine, but often the epidemic dies out on its own before the vaccine is ready. Why do epidemics die out? Some say the germs have been brought under control, while others say they die out because of the change of seasons…. As to whether these wild speculations are tenable, science can offer no explanation and can give no precise answer. Humanity must not only reckon with these speculations, but also with mankind’s lack of understanding and fear of epidemics. No one knows, in the final analysis, why epidemics begin or why they end. Because humanity has faith only in science, relies entirely upon it, and does not recognize the Creator’s authority or accept His sovereignty, they will never obtain an answer” (“God Himself, the Unique III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God rules over all things. Everything is in His hands. Whether it’s big or small, visible or not, something living or dead, everything exists or disappears as God’s will shifts. Every disaster is under God’s rule. People don’t know where plagues and pestilences come from or how to prevent them. We have no idea when they’ll disappear. All of this is ruled by God. But I didn’t truly understand God’s authority and sovereignty, so when those bugs infested my tomatoes I didn’t come before God to seek and rely on Him first, but tried to find a solution with my own methods. That was fruitless, but I still didn’t turn to God or lean on Him. I felt hopeless and helpless when I found out even pesticides weren’t working. I had faith in God and spoke words of prayer to Him, but He didn’t have a place in my heart. I thought I could get rid of these bugs myself. How arrogant and ignorant! Then I realized that God decides when they appear and when they go away. It’s out of our control. I still didn’t understand what God’s will was in that infestation but I knew I just needed to do my own part and leave the insects up to God. I had to submit to God’s arrangements. That realization brought me peace. I prayed to God, willing to submit and experience what He’d arranged.
I went to the field a couple days later and saw lots of spider webs in the tomato plants. I wondered where they’d all come from. I looked closer and saw lots of little moths in the webs and I remembered that spiders like to eat them. Without the moths, there wouldn’t be any eggs, so there would naturally be fewer bugs. I realized there were a lot fewer insects than there had been two days before. I knew this was God’s doing, that He had brought the spiders to eat the insects. I was so grateful to God! After another seven or eight days I saw that all those bugs were gone from the tomato plants’ fruit, branches, flowers, and leaves. I was so excited. I’d never imagined that in just a few short days the spiders would eat all those insects. God really is almighty! If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes I’d hardly believe it was true. I was filled with thanks and praise for God. Nonbelievers don’t understand God’s rule and authority. They just believe in and rely on science to learn about and avoid disasters but they can’t fully understand them. They have nothing to rely on, they’re helpless in the face of disasters, so their crop yields suffer a lot. But when I turned to God, willing to submit and lean on God, He used these humble spiders to eat all the bugs, very easily taking care of the infestation. This really showed me that God rules everything and mobilizes all things. He’s so wise and almighty! When it was time for the tomatoes to ripen, I thought it would be a terrible harvest because of the infestation, but to my surprise, it was a bumper crop. God works in wondrous ways! It’s just like it says in Almighty God’s words: “His deeds are omnipresent, His power is omnipresent, His wisdom is omnipresent, and His authority is omnipresent. Each of these laws and rules is the embodiment of His deeds, and each one reveals His wisdom and authority. Who can exempt themselves from His sovereignty? And who can discharge themselves from His designs? All things exist beneath His gaze, and moreover, all things live under His sovereignty. His deeds and His power leave mankind with no choice but to acknowledge the fact that He really does exist and holds sovereignty over all things” (“Man Can Only Be Saved Amidst God’s Management” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Thank God! I really experienced through this that God’s authority and wisdom are everywhere. The weather, the sun and the rain are ruled by God and so is every kind of insect. No created being could control any of that. In every little detail in God’s creation and management of all things, we can really see God’s unique authority. He’s so wise and almighty! I thought to myself that no matter what happens in the future, I have to rely on God and better understand His deeds.
Two months later we planted a batch of amaranth, and after a couple weeks a nice green patch appeared. I figured we’d have a great harvest. But one morning, my wife told me there were diamondback moth larvae on the plants and asked me to deal with it. Hearing this scared me. Those larvae are really active and hard to catch by hand and they reproduce like crazy. They mature in just one or two days. They’d grown on some melons we’d planted before and I’d tried over a dozen things, but nothing worked. They ate all our vegetables in just a couple of days and our thriving garden turned into a wasteland. I was a bit worried, wondering if they would eat all our amaranth within a couple of days. I didn’t know what to do. I quickly prayed to God and asked Him to guide me to understand His will.
I later read this in God’s words: “Job possessed and pursued these things while being unable to see God or hear the words of God; though he had never seen God, he had come to know the means by which God rules over all things, and he understood the wisdom with which God does so. Though he had never heard the words spoken by God, Job knew that the deeds of rewarding man and taking from man all come from God. Although the years of his life were no different from those of any ordinary person, he did not allow the unremarkableness of his life to affect his knowledge of God’s sovereignty over all things, or to affect his following of the way of fearing God and shunning evil. In his eyes, the laws of all things were full of God’s deeds, and God’s sovereignty could be seen in any part of a person’s life. He had not seen God, but he was able to realize that God’s deeds are everywhere, and during his unremarkable time on earth, in every corner of his life he was able to see and realize the extraordinary and wondrous deeds of God, and he could see the wondrous arrangements of God. The hiddenness and silence of God did not hinder Job’s realization of God’s deeds, nor did they affect his knowledge of God’s sovereignty over all things. His life was the realization, during his everyday life, of the sovereignty and arrangements of God, who is hidden among all things. In his everyday life he also heard and understood the voice of God’s heart and the words of God, who is silent among all things yet expresses the voice of His heart and His words by governing the laws of all things. You see, then, that if people have the same humanity and pursuit as Job, then they can gain the same realization and knowledge as Job, and can acquire the same understanding and knowledge of God’s sovereignty over all things as Job” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I saw in God’s words that Job focused on understanding God’s authority in his daily life and experiencing God’s rule and almightiness. Through this, he saw that everything comes from God, and that God rules and controls all things and mankind’s fate. Job knew without a doubt that he had all of that wealth because of God’s blessings and rule and it hadn’t come from his own hard work. When his wealth was taken away, he also believed it was entirely with God’s permission. What is given and what is taken away is ruled and determined by God. That’s why he didn’t complain, but he praised God. But when something happened that was difficult or that I didn’t like, I wasn’t able to accept it and submit to God. I saw God didn’t have a place in my heart and I was lacking faith. This thought left me feeling ashamed and I understood that God was allowing all this to happen. God wanted me to know His almightiness and rule and truly submit to Him in my daily life. Getting rid of the insects and whether the amaranth would do well was all in God’s hands. It’s just like the old saying, “Cultivation lies with man, harvest lies with Heaven.” I knew I should go along with the experience, learn to seek God’s will, and submit to His arrangements. I felt a lot better at that thought and I quietly prayed to God, “Oh God, I believe that how well the amaranth does is in Your hands. I’ll let go of my plans and worries, experience Your words in this environment and obey You.” After that we tried a few things to get rid of the larvae, but nothing worked. I was calm, though. I knew it was all in God’s hands and even if we didn’t end up getting a good harvest, that would be God’s will. I submitted to what He had arranged. I went to the vegetable field a couple days later where I saw flocks of sparrows eating the bugs off the amaranth. I was amazed to see God once again opening up a path for me and solving a problem I couldn’t solve myself. I was so grateful to God! After another two days the larvae had all been eaten by the sparrows. We were thrilled, and thanked and praised God over and over. God really is almighty!
Later, I read this in God’s words: “When God created all things, He used all sorts of methods and ways to balance them, to balance the living conditions of the mountains and lakes, of the plants and all kinds of animals, birds, and insects. His goal was to allow all kinds of living beings to live and multiply under the laws that He had established. None of the things of creation can go outside of these laws, and the laws cannot be broken. Only within this type of basic environment can humans safely survive and multiply, generation after generation” (“God Himself, the Unique IX” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I saw from God’s words that when He created all things, He balanced their living conditions in all sorts of ways so that every living thing under His rule lives and reproduces in a very orderly way, supporting each other and holding each other in check, as God has determined. Nothing can go against these rules that God has made. God created all animals, plants, and insects for ecological balance to protect our living environment and provide stability. Without these arrangements by God, without the rules He’s set, animals and insects would fall into chaos and that would throw our lives into chaos. We couldn’t survive. God’s considerations are meticulous. All things reveal His great power, wisdom, and wondrousness, and even more, His love for mankind. As we saw it, there was no solution to the insects that appeared on our vegetables, but God used sparrows and spiders to eat them so we could enjoy the food God provided for us. Everything created by God has its purpose, even the humble spiders and sparrows have their own mission. God uses them to balance the environment. God makes all things interrelated. It’s all so we can live better. Some little black insects and stinkbugs appeared on vegetables we planted later and I prayed to God, then thought of those bugs’ natural enemy, the toad. We released five toads in the field and in just two months, they had grown in number to about 30. There were fewer and fewer bugs and we had a great harvest. I was so grateful to God for this. I thought of God’s words, “Though the phrase ‘God’s authority’ may seem unfathomable, God’s authority is not at all abstract. He is present with man through every minute of man’s life, leading him through every day. So, in real life, every person will necessarily see and experience the most tangible aspect of God’s authority. This tangible aspect is proof enough that God’s authority truly exists, and it fully allows one to recognize and to comprehend the fact that God possesses such authority” (“God Himself, the Unique III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I used to think that I’d have to go through some major events to understand God’s authority so I didn’t pay attention to experiencing it through little things in everyday life. After that, I saw that God’s authority isn’t as hard to understand as I’d thought. His authority and power are always evident and they’re with us in our daily lives. Whether it’s something large or small, as long as we focus on experiencing God’s words, we’ll see His authority.
Thinking back on those few months when I was faced with those infestations, at first I only knew to rely on my experience and scientific knowledge, but that got me nowhere. When I submitted and experienced God’s words, I saw His deeds and gained a practical understanding of God’s authority and sovereignty. My faith in God grew, too. Thanks be to God!