A Restaurant’s Harvest (Audio Essay)
Cong Xin worked as a waitress in a restaurant, and she had always been a conscientious worker. But for some reason, the manager had recently started to lose his temper with her indiscriminately. Ever since she was small, Cong Xin had always wanted to excel and to do her best at everything she did, and even her stepfather very seldom spoke ill of her. But now she had to face the restaurant manager who was purposefully making things difficult for her. So many times, Cong Xin had wanted to get into a blazing row with him, but when she thought of how she was a believer in God and that she must be someone with humanity and reason, she would realize that she could no longer act however she wished, as she had done before she believed in God. Therefore, whenever the manager got angry at her, Cong Xin prayed in her heart: “O God! You permit this current situation to happen, and I pray that You keep me from getting hot-blooded, and from doing anything that brings shame to Your name or that makes me Satan’s laughingstock.” After praying, her heart would become a little calmer.
One time, after praying, Cong Xin thought of a passage of God’s words: “In the dispositions of normal people there is no crookedness or deceitfulness, people have a normal relationship with each other, they do not stand alone, and their lives are neither mediocre nor decadent. So, too, is God exalted among all, His words permeate among man, people live in peace with one another and under the care and protection of God, the earth is filled with harmony, without the interference of Satan, and the glory of God holds the utmost importance among man” (“Interpretation of the Sixteenth Utterance” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). She also thought of a passage in the brother’s fellowship that said: “Presently, everybody’s interpersonal relationships are abnormal. The main reason for this is that people have been corrupted by Satan very deeply and their integrity is extremely flawed. Men seek nothing but profit and try to benefit at other people’s expense in everything that they do. They are guided by their own individual intentions and goals in all matters. People live for themselves and for their flesh. They are absolutely not concerned at all about others and they do not even have the loving emotions that they should possess. Men fight and scheme against each other and they do so both openly and covertly. There is no way for mankind to get along with one another in a normal fashion. The conscience and rationality that man should possess has vanished from the face of the earth. There is no spirit of cooperation amongst mankind. Without a little bit of patience, people would be enemies with one another. Man’s heart is filled with evil, conflict, hostility and irreconcilable differences. It’s as if man does not have the image of human being at all. He is completely possessed by Satan and his inner heart is filled with Satan’s philosophy. All of this has been revealed by God’s words and there is absolutely nothing wrong about it. These real situations exist in everybody” (The Fellowship From the Above).
From God’s words and from the brother’s fellowship on entry into life, Cong Xin understood that people’s relationships with each other were abnormal, because every single person has been corrupted so much by Satan that they’ve lost normal humanity, and because they live by the satanic life philosophies such as “Everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” “We will not attack unless we are attacked; if we are attacked, we certainly counterattack.” They therefore fight with each other so as to defend their own profits and maintain their appearances and vanity, they argue until their faces are flushed red over trivial things, and even fight to the death over them. Cong Xin realized that she was angry with her manager because she felt that she was doing a good job and so should receive his approval, but the manager not only never gave her his approval, but on the contrary got angry with her and caused her to lose face. For this reason, she felt that it was the manager who had been wrong first, and that she had good reason to treat him in exactly the same way he treated her. But wasn’t she living by the satanic poison of “an eye for an eye”? Thinking of this, Cong Xin understood that God was using this matter to cleanse and change her, allowing her to learn to recognize her own corrupt nature through her association with other people, as well as learn how to practice the truth and live out normal humanity, and learn to lower her conceited head and be patient when other people hurt her.
Cong Xin then thought of a passage in the brother’s fellowship that she would often hear: “If you want to have patience toward others, you first need to understand them, meaning no matter who says something that hurts you, you should know how to think and how to deal with it. You should first understand this: His words have hurt me. What he said seemed to be exposing my shortcomings and appeared to be directed at me. If his words are directed at me, what does he mean by them? Is he trying to do me harm? Does he see me as his enemy? Does he hate me? Is he exacting revenge against me? I did not offend him, so the answer to these questions cannot be yes. … When they said these words they were simply expressing what a normal person thinks, rather than directing them at any particular person…. they were certainly not consciously targeting any specific individual. First you offer understanding, then your anger can dissipate, and then you can achieve patience” (“How to Build Church Life and the Meaning of Building Church Life” in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life (I)).
Cong Xin then knew that if she wanted to really be patient with other people, then she must first achieve understanding. So by speaking to her co-workers, Cong Xin came to understand recent developments for the manager: It turned out that a new waitress in the restaurant had recently been taking the wrong money when people ordered dishes, and because of this the manager had been in a bad mood and was taking his anger out on Cong Xin; it wasn’t because of anything she herself had done. Cong Xin thought that if their positions were reversed and she was the manager, she would also get angry when something like this happened. But for the judgment and chastisement of God’s words which protected her, she would be just the same as the manager. When Cong Xin thought along these lines, the anger she held in her heart toward the manager was wondrously reduced. She no longer wished to reason with the manager, and she became able to contemplate God’s words normally on the one hand, and do her share of the work on the other. One evening, as she was finishing work and clocking out, Cong Xin just so happened to meet the manager. She greeted the manager politely, saying: “See you tomorrow, sir.” The manager was surprised and then, contrary to his normal behavior, replied warmly: “Take care on your way home.” That night, Cong Xin, who was normally very timid walking along streets at nighttime, completely forgot her fear, for all the way home she was recalling the last few days during which, through prayer and contemplating God’s words, she had come to know herself and had been practicing the truth. She had experienced that living by God’s words, she was indeed capable of living out a normal humanity, and her heart was filled with peace and joy.
Over the days that followed, because the restaurant was so busy, Cong Xin had to work overtime with her co-workers. Though work was busy and tiring, Cong Xin never complained. The only thing that made her unhappy was that she discovered that her co-workers would often goof off. For example, when a customer came in, her co-workers would rush over to take the customer’s order and take drinks over, whereas all the dirty work like cleaning the tables was all left for Cong Xin to do. Especially at peak times, Cong Xin would be running here, there and everywhere and would sweat buckets, and when it was time to finish work, she still had to mop the floor. Almost every day she was the last to change her clothes and clock off. As time went on, Cong Xin started to feel like she couldn’t bear it anymore. She thought about how she was getting paid the same wage as her co-workers, but that she did more work and the work was more tiring than what her co-workers did, and the more she thought about it, the more wronged and resentful she felt. Cong Xin really wished that the manager would see all this and know that she expended more effort than her co-workers. If she could even get a bit of a raise, then she wouldn’t feel so out of sorts. Cong Xin sometimes tried being lazy and sly, but when she saw one table after another waiting to be cleaned, she couldn’t help but get to work. Cong Xin felt very depressed and pained, and felt as though she was being bullied. In her pain, Cong Xin prayed to God: “O God! I feel exhausted and wronged in my association with my co-workers. We get the same wage, so I’m not willing to work any harder. What lessons should I be learning in this environment? What can I do to live out a normal humanity? I pray for You to guide me….”
One day after work, Cong Xin got home and saw a passage in the brother’s fellowship which said: “You must be real with other people. Even if you have done some practical thing for someone else, don’t say that you have, for it is better to do real deeds. Say, for example, someone else has a difficulty and you help them solve it, and afterward you say, ‘I was able to help you today to solve your difficulty. Didn’t I do it because we love each other? Didn’t I do it because I love you?’ Saying this is pointless, right? When you help someone else, you know in your heart that you’ve helped them, and that’s all you need to do—what’s the point in saying things like this? It’s best to do some real deeds! These words you say imply that by helping someone a little, you then want to gain their affection, you want them to remember you and be good to you. Is it right? Isn’t that being false and using a disguise? Isn’t that making bargains with other people? … Therefore, when you speak with others, speak honestly, and when you do things, do real deeds; don’t speak false or cloaked words. Even if we help someone, and they are kind to us or feel very grateful, we don’t demand these things from them, for we do not require anyone’s gratitude” (“How to Build Church Life and the Meaning of Building Church Life” in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life (I)).
After reading this passage in the brother’s fellowship, Cong Xin understood that only an honest person has a true human likeness, that honest people are real, they expend themselves honestly and sincerely when they do things, and they ask for nothing in return. Her own expressions, however, showed that if there was nothing in it for her then she may as well not get out bed, that if she expended more effort then she wanted to be paid for it, and if she couldn’t get anything in return then she wasn’t willing to expend the energy. Actually, it wasn’t that she was tired from working so hard, but that her heart was tired. She thought about it: How could I not be tired when I won’t make the slightest effort without getting paid for it? And so Cong Xin finally found the root of her pain and resentment, and she found the way to get along peacefully with her co-workers, which was to truly be an honest person, to be willing to do things, and not to require anything in return. Only in this way do people earn God’s acceptance, and their hearts become calm and free. Otherwise, no matter how much effort someone puts in to what they’re doing, it is all meaningless. From that moment on, Cong Xin was no longer mean in her dealings with her co-workers; she just quietly did as much as she could do, and no longer wished to change anyone else. Later, the shift leader in the restaurant suddenly started to actively help Cong Xin with her work, and the restaurant manager could tell that Cong Xin’s co-workers were goofing off, and so set about arranging for them to do more work, and Cong Xin would go out of her way to help them. From then on, her co-workers were reformed, and began to consciously look for work to do. In Cong Xin’s heart, there was a kind of inexpressible feeling of joy; she knew that this had been the result of her conducting herself in accordance with God’s will, and she kept thanking God in her heart.
Later, because of an emergency, Cong Xin could no longer keep working at the restaurant. According to restaurant policy, she had to give one month’s notice before she could quit, otherwise not only would she not receive that month’s pay, but she would also not get hired again in the future. But Cong Xin really didn’t have time to give a month’s notice, and she was already prepared to lose her pay when she handed her notice into the manager. Unexpectedly, the manager spoke in earnest to her, saying, “To be honest, I really hate to let you go. It’s really hard now to find someone as honest as you. I think you have a really great caliber.” Cong Xin replied: “Sir, you’re too kind. I have no caliber, and am only educated to middle school level.” The manager said, “The caliber I’m talking about is not based on your level of education, but rather it refers to your quality as a person and your mindset.” When Cong Xin heard this, she felt greatly comforted in her heart, yet she felt very clearly that this was not because of her own merits, but was entirely because she had been changed by God’s work and words.
What topped it all for Cong Xin was that, one day, after she quit her job at the restaurant, the manager called and asked her to go pick up her last month’s wages. After getting to the restaurant, the manager handed every penny of her wages over to her, and stressed again and again that she could always come back to work there whenever she wanted. Little would she have thought that the restaurant’s policy, which had never once been changed, would be broken by her! At that moment, Cong Xin once again kept thanking and praising God in her heart. She knew that this was all done by God, and that it had been God’s words that had changed her and enabled her to win the respect of other people. Cong Xin thought that if she had treated other people and handled things by relying on her corrupt disposition, then never mind the manager saying she would be welcome back there to work anytime, she would not have gotten even a penny of her last month’s wages.
After having this experience, Cong Xin truly felt that, when difficulties arose, as long as she practiced by relying on God’s words, she could then live out a normal humanity. On the surface, it may appear that one has to suffer some loss temporarily, and one may also lose some face, yet practicing the truth and satisfying God is a testimony that brings glory to God! As a created being that could practice the truth and satisfy God, not only could she win the respect of others, but most importantly the comfort she felt in her heart could not be measured nor replaced by any material gain, or any amount of reputation or vanity. It is God’s words that have today allowed Cong Xin to learn how to conduct herself as a person and learn how to associate with other people, and she sincerely feels that the joy she reaps in her heart after each time she practices the truth is the greatest and truest blessing of God!
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