My Dream of Being a Director
By Bai Xue, South Korea
Almighty God says, “In his life, if man wishes to be cleansed and achieve changes in his disposition, if he wishes to live out a life of meaning and fulfill his duty as a creature, then he must accept God’s chastisement and judgment, and must not allow God’s discipline and God’s smiting to depart from him, in order that he may free himself from the manipulation and influence of Satan, and live in the light of God. Know that God’s chastisement and judgment is the light, and the light of man’s salvation, and that there is no better blessing, grace or protection for man” (“The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I never used to have practical understanding of this passage. I thought faith simply meant reading God’s word often, diligently performing my duties, and practicing as God tells us, that this was enough to earn God’s approval. I wondered, why do we have to experience the judgment and chastisement of God’s word? Also, when God judges people, isn’t He condemning them? Why is it said that chastisement and judgment are salvation and protection? It was only after I personally experienced some judgment and chastisement of God’s words that I finally gained some personal understanding of this passage.
My duty used to be singing in the choir. I had some ideas on presenting our performances, so our supervisor had me do planning with the directors’ group. When I heard the news, I was really excited and grateful for God elevating me. When I first joined the directors’ group, I felt really lacking, so I earnestly prayed to and relied on God, and I was really cautious in everything I said and did. But after a while, when some of my ideas were approved and accepted by my brothers and sisters, I felt that I was doing okay, that maybe it was time for my talent to shine. I gradually started talking more and displaying confidence. Especially when discussing work with others, I really wanted to show off, and at times I butted in to have my say before my partner spoke. The sister I partnered with was a bit constrained by me. I knew about this, but instead of helping and supporting her out of love, I told her to reflect on herself with an interrogating, belittling tone. After she heard me say that, not only did her condition not improve, but she became more negative, and even said she didn’t want to do this duty anymore. I thought, “It’s better that way, so I can take your place.” But after that, her state gradually improved through eating and drinking God’s word. I thanked God with my words, but in my heart, I wasn’t so pleased. I felt a good opportunity was gone. I was really frustrated, wondering why the supervisor didn’t recognize my talent, and why she didn’t see my abilities. To prove myself, I became even tougher and more hard-working, and I threw myself into improving my skills. Later on, some of my ideas were endorsed by most of the team and I felt I had what it takes to be a director.
Soon after, the supervisor had me follow the filming crew. When I heard that, I thought, “This is exactly what directors do! It looks like they’re training me to be a director!” The more I thought about it, the happier I felt. Once on location, I didn’t wait for anyone to tell me what to do. I picked up the megaphone and took a director’s stance, telling everyone what to do. The brothers and sisters there pointed out some issues in my thinking, but I didn’t want to pay them any mind. I even thought, “You think you’re better than me? What good ideas have you ever had?” I only cared about expressing my “unique vision.” I just wanted to finish shooting that song, thinking then I’d become a director.
The supervisor sought me out after the shoot, and I thought, “She must want to promote me.” To my surprise, she had come to point out some problems in my duties. She said I had been arrogant, overbearing, and dictatorial, that I hadn’t listened to my brothers’ and sisters’ advice at all, and that everyone felt very constrained by me. Hearing her say that was like having a bucket of cold water poured over my head. It felt like that fervor had been totally extinguished. I thought, “Me, arrogant? Obviously, I just take my duties seriously.” I was so frustrated and discontent. The supervisor saw I made no attempt to understand myself, so she asked me to go back to the choir. Getting that news was especially galling. Only a couple days ago, I thought, I was a commanding presence on the stage, but now I was unceremoniously cast back to the choir. What would people think? I also had complaints about the supervisor. I thought, “Why can’t I stay with the directors’ group? Haven’t I paid a price? I’ve worked hard, even if it hasn’t been perfect.” The more I thought about it, the more wronged I felt. Back in the choir, I had no energy for practice. My breathing was off, I was off-key. I felt I could take not making it into the directors’ group, but I had become the worst choir member. I felt that I had never failed so badly. The others saw my state and tried to help and support me. But I felt even more embarrassed. I just wanted to find a hole and crawl inside it. During that period, I felt very helpless, and I didn’t know what truths I should practice. All I could do was go before God and pray, “God, I don’t know how to experience all this, I feel so miserable. I beg You to guide me to understand Your will in this.”
After praying, I read a passage of God’s word. “Although you have arrived at this step today, you still have not let go of status but struggle constantly to seek it, and observe it daily, with a deep fear that one day your status will be lost and your name will be ruined. People have never put aside their desire for ease. … You are now followers, and you have gained some understanding of this stage of work. However, you have still not put aside your desire for status. When your status is high you seek well, but when your status is low you no longer seek. The blessings of status are always on your mind. Why is it that the majority of people cannot remove themselves from negativity? Is the answer not invariably because of bleak prospects?” (“Why Are You Unwilling to Be a Foil?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I felt God’s word described my state exactly. After rejoining the choir, weren’t my negativity, complaints, and misunderstandings only from my discontent at not getting the position? I also thought of how, while I was with the directors’ group, my ability to actively express myself, stay up nights, suffer, and pay a price wasn’t because I wanted to be considerate of God’s will and perform my duty well to satisfy God, but was because my sole objective was to gain a director position. When the sister who partnered with me felt constrained and was in a bad state, I not only didn’t try to help and support her out of love, but couldn’t wait to push her out so I could take her place. During the shoot, at such an important time, I was overbearing and dictatorial, refusing to listen to brothers’ and sisters’ advice, so we had to redo a lot of shots, seriously delaying the progress of the work of God’s house. Back in the choir, since I hadn’t gotten the position I wanted, I was negative, I had complaints and misunderstandings, and even thought of giving up my work, not performing my duties properly. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was totally unreasonable. God’s house had given me an opportunity to practice by assigning me to the directors’ group, but instead of treasuring this, I focused on my own name and position. I stayed up nights, suffered, and paid a price only for the position, and even turned my duties into a stage to show off. That kind of effort could only make God loathe and detest me. I also considered the fact that I had no professional skills, but had gained the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and guidance with just a resolve to cooperate. But when I managed some meager accomplishments, instead of thinking about how to thank God, I used these things as capital for myself and shamelessly stole God’s glory. The more I thought, the more I felt I totally lacked conscience and reason. I wondered, how was my mindset any different from the unbelievers’? Realizing this, I fell on my knees before God and repented, “God, I failed to properly fulfill my duty. I sought a name and title, seriously hindered the work of God’s house, and caused much harm to my brothers and sisters. God! I was wrong, and I don’t want to keep pursuing this. I want to perform my duties with my feet firmly on the ground.”
Thanks to God’s elevation, needs for church work meant that before long, I returned to the directors’ group and continued working with those brothers and sisters. This time in the directors’ group, I constantly reminded myself that I had to hold on to my place, that I couldn’t pursue my reputation and position again. But, since I hardly understood my own nature, and because I hadn’t yet seen through to the essence and consequences of pursuing reputation and status, before long, when some of my ideas gained everyone’s approval and acceptance again, that desire for status again began to rise within me. I thought, “I want to make my big comeback and do something big. I’ll make everyone see how capable I am.”
Later in a rehearsal, while everyone was lined up in formation according to my direction, that moment I once again felt like a director, presiding over everything, and my desire for status began to grow until I no longer had any desire to pray or rely on God, and I was utterly lost in the joy of directing others. It didn’t take long before there were problems in my duties. Roadblocks always cropped up in my plans, and suddenly, I was at a loss and didn’t know how to resolve these issues. I felt like I had come to a dead end, and I couldn’t feel the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment or guidance at all. Especially when my brothers and sisters pointed out some of the issues in my performance of my duties, I was really sensitive, wondering if they felt I wasn’t capable of this duty. When the supervisor came to check in with me, I felt like I was on tenterhooks. I thought, “Am I going to be transferred out? Does this mean I won’t be able to perform this duty anymore?” When brothers and sisters had some ideas that were better than my own, I felt even more uneasy, thinking, “Would someone else be promoted instead of me?” I spent every day in a state of constant alarm, and it was extremely tiring. My heart wasn’t in my duties at all. The difficulties in my duties remained, but I felt totally lost, and I didn’t dare tell my brothers and sisters about it, afraid that once they knew the truth about me, they would think I wasn’t fit for this duty. So, I held it in, covered it up, and pretended, and so I couldn’t fulfill my role. I lived in a state of seeking status, fretting over what I might lose, and my state deteriorated until finally, it directly impacted the work of God’s house, and in the end, I was transferred out. On the day I was transferred, I felt that I was once again going from a role of directing others to being one of those directed. Overnight, I had again been pulled down from a place of status. At that point, I just couldn’t understand. I wondered why I kept finding myself in this situation. I wanted to be a director. Was that really so difficult? Was it really impossible to give me a chance? Dwelling on it, I became more negative and distressed. The other brothers and sisters all sang hymns of praise to God. But for me, faced with the loss of my position, humiliation, and change in my duties, and especially that torment of longing for something you can’t get, those few days of practice felt like years of agony. I even began to have thoughts of betraying God, of no longer wanting to perform my duties there. I felt trapped in a kind of extreme misery that I lacked the ability to overcome.
Then one evening, I twisted my ankle as I was going down the stairs. My brothers and sisters were all enthusiastically taking part in practice at the time, while all I could do was lie in bed, unable to move. I couldn’t perform any duties at all. I was basically useless. I wanted to make a comeback and do something really big, but now, I had fallen to such an embarrassing low…. My heart ached as I thought of it, and I couldn’t help but ask myself: Why was my life so miserable? Why couldn’t I stop myself from pursuing name and status?
Then a passage of God’s word came to my mind. “Satan uses fame and gain to control man’s thoughts, until all people can think of is fame and gain. They struggle for fame and gain, suffer hardships for fame and gain, endure humiliation for fame and gain, sacrifice everything they have for fame and gain, and they will make any judgment or decision for the sake of fame and gain. In this way, Satan binds people with invisible shackles, and they have neither the strength nor the courage to throw them off. They unknowingly bear these shackles and trudge ever onward with great difficulty. For the sake of this fame and gain, mankind shuns God and betrays Him and becomes increasingly wicked. In this way, therefore, one generation after another is destroyed in the midst of Satan’s fame and gain” (“God Himself, the Unique VI” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). When I read this passage of God’s word, I understood that Satan uses fame and gain to deceive and control people, and that the more people pursue fame and gain, the more miserable and corrupt they become. In the past, I never thought there was anything wrong with that, and satanic philosophies like “One should bring honor to his ancestors,” “Man struggles upwards; water flows downwards,” and “A man leaves his name behind wherever he stays, just as a goose utters its cry wherever it flies” were things I considered mottos to live by. I thought that was the pursuit people should have, and they were the only ones with drive, so in school and in my duties in God’s house, I lived by these satanic philosophies, pursuing headlong reputation, status, and getting others to look up to me. I tried to stand out, to be a cut above. I couldn’t stand to be an ordinary person, so when I had the chance to work in the directors’ group again, I was obsessed with getting a position as director, because I thought that was the only way others would look up to me and I could order other people around. That’s why I enjoyed it so much when I was once again standing in front of the monitor, ordering others around. I felt it was worth it to endure any suffering or pay any price for name and gain, but without name or gain, I felt miserable, as if life wasn’t worth living. I had been bound with invisible shackles by the idea of having a name, and I wanted to take them off, but couldn’t. I couldn’t possibly work in harmony with my brothers and sisters in that kind of state. I could only disrupt and obstruct the work of God’s house. More and more, I saw that pursuing name and gain really isn’t the right path. God loathes people living in this state, and other people are disgusted by it too. Thinking back on my rise and fall, twice, I see actually this was God’s great salvation for me. My desire for status was too strong, I had to experience these refinements to force me to go before God to reflect on myself, know myself, and repent to God. Only then could I pursue the truth and escape these corrupt satanic dispositions. This was God’s salvation for me. I personally experienced how God’s chastisement and judgment are truly His greatest salvation and protection for people! Although these processes were painful, they were so beneficial for changing my life disposition. Once I realized that, I prostrated myself to pray: “God! I was wrong, I truly was wrong. I’ve known the misery and torment of living under Satan’s influence and pursuing name, gain, and status. You judged me, disciplined me, awakened me this way. This was all Your great salvation and love for me. God, I no longer wish to pursue name, gain, and status. I won’t fight anymore. No matter what commission or duty comes to me in the future, I will submit. I wish only to perform the duties of a created being.”
Before long, the church informed me that, as long as it didn’t impact my ankle’s healing, I could rejoin practices. Hearing this news was so exciting, and I cherished my chance to do this duty. Even if it was just one tiny part, to me, it was so precious, and hard to come by. In particular, this was captured in a scene that I worked on: A group of believers live miserable lives, persecuted by the great red dragon, surrounded by all kinds of satanic toxins, oppressed to the point they can hardly breathe. They cry out, they struggle, but nothing helps, and only when God’s light falls upon that dark land can everyone be free from the bondage of the forces of darkness because they hear God’s voice and receive God’s salvation. Working on that scene was really moving for me, because I felt I was in a similar state. I had spent so long in bondage in a dark place, I had suffered so much from the shackles of name, gain, and status, so each time that ray of light came down, I was so moved, so grateful to God for guiding me to escape the bondage of name, gain, and status.
The supervisor later came to see me and asked me to do stage blocking for a sister. At first, I thought, “It’s fine that I can’t go on stage, but now I have to stage block for someone else.” But then I realized my desire for status was rearing its head again. So, I prayed to God, and then the lyrics of a hymn occurred to me. “Oh God! Whether I have status or not, I now understand myself. If my status is high it is because of Your elevation, and if it is low it is because of Your ordination. Everything is in Your hands. I have neither any choices, nor any complaints. You ordained that I would be born in this country and among this people, and all that I should do is to be completely obedient under Your dominion because everything is within what You have ordained” (“I’m Just a Tiny Created Being” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). I was fully invested in the practices that followed, and made lots of suggestions for this sister. I thought to myself, maybe I’m not making much of an impact, but I felt very secure in performing my duty that way. The supervisor later arranged for me to do stage blocking for another sister. I not only had to get the positioning right, but I had to create the motions for her. When I received this duty, I felt it was God’s test of me. There was no name, no gain, and no status. God wanted to see if I would fully apply myself to my duty. So, I earnestly prayed to God, and under His guidance, everything went very smoothly, and very quickly. When I handed off my duty to my sister, I realized I had never felt so secure in my duties. There was no bargaining for myself, and it wasn’t contaminated by my own intentions. It was all based on my understanding of God’s word, and because I wanted to practice the truth, that I took on this duty. I felt performing my duties that way was very righteous.
Some time later, some brothers and sisters told me, “You seem to be much more down to earth in your duties. You aren’t as irritable and arrogant as before.” Hearing this, I was deeply aware that these were the results achieved in me by God’s chastisement and judgment. It was God who guided me, step by step, in escaping the shackles of name, gain, and status. Not long after that, the supervisor notified me that I was being given the duty of a director. I can’t describe how excited I was when I heard the news. I wasn’t so proud and pleased with myself as I had been a year before when I was assigned that duty, and I could understand it was a commission, a responsibility given to me by God, and I was better able to understand God’s good intentions. I realized going through all of that wasn’t to make my life difficult or to destroy me. It was to purify my corrupt nature and my contaminated motives. Through what God’s word exposed and what the facts revealed, I genuinely saw how deeply I’d been corrupted by Satan, and that without the judgment, chastisement, dealing, and discipline of God’s words, I never would have been able to escape these satanic dispositions or especially escape the dark forces and bondage of Satan. Only then did I truly experience that God’s chastisement, judgment, trials, and refinement really are God’s greatest protection and salvation for me.