After the Earthquake
By Jane, Philippine
I accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days in July 2019. Later, 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 really enjoyed it. It was a feeling I’d never had in my whole life. I learned through fellowship that while we’re alive, we should have faith, read God’s words, and do a created being’s duty. And even though my dad was opposed to my faith and would lose his temper with me a lot, I kept going to gatherings, because I knew that was the only way to get a better understanding of God’s words. My life was so empty before I could read God’s words. That was what fulfilled me and gave me direction in life. I knew how incredibly important gathering and reading His words was for me.
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 over 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. Still, I wanted the money and I was reluctant to miss my chance at it. In the end I couldn’t overcome the temptation and I agreed to take the job. I only signed a one-month contract, thinking after that I could attend gatherings normally and in the meantime I’d do my best to keep attending them. Things didn’t turn out like I expected, though. It was impossible to attend gatherings like I’d hoped. I couldn’t use my cellphone at work and I didn’t get off until 6 p.m. I had a long commute, so I was really tired by the time I got home. I just didn’t have the energy. If I didn’t get home on time it was too late to attend. Over time, I felt like I was growing farther from God, and I felt a nameless fear and unease. I didn’t know why, but I felt really sad all the time. I kept a smile on my face, but I was hurting on the inside. I felt like all the light in my life had disappeared. Sometimes I felt such a darkness I’d start to cry. I really missed going to gatherings. When there weren’t any customers, I’d write God’s words that I could remember in my notebook, and read and pondered them when I could. I could feel God’s help and guidance. I was always watching the calendar, counting down the days left in my contract. I wanted to be done with that job and start gathering 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 Mindanao, there had been more and more disasters like volcano eruptions, hurricanes, earthquakes, and pandemics, and it was that way all over the world. But I’d decided to make money and pulled away from God. I was afraid that God wouldn’t protect me in a disaster, and I’d lose my life. So I said a prayer, “God, please forgive me for choosing money over 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 soon so I could take on a duty again.
I remember feeling really apprehensive on December 15, 2019. I didn’t know why, but I had this feeling of foreboding. I wanted to go home and get away from the mall, not keep working. Then a co-worker asked me to go to the restroom with her. A few minutes later right when we were walking back into the mall, the ground suddenly started lurching. I saw people running out of the mall. Some were frozen with fear. 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 and it was hard to get to a safe place. Thinking back over all of it, I’d happened to walk out of the mall to go to the bathroom right before it started, and lots of people were there, so we had to wait outside for a while. The earthquake started the moment I’d gone back inside. The timing was perfect, so it was God’s protection that saved me from danger. I was so moved. Not because I survived, but because I saw God’s love and that He was with me. He saved me from that earthquake. I called out 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. I knew that I’d earned some money, but I’d been feeling upset and gloomy. Money isn’t important. That doesn’t do any good in an earthquake. Coming before God and receiving His salvation is all that matters. I was really longing to go home and join a gathering. I wanted to tell 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 was wondering why God still protected me even after I pulled away from Him. I opened up the church’s app and saw a passage of Almighty God’s words. “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 he came, who is guiding, supporting and providing for him, 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 he should worship, what kind of road he 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 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” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique VI). This was so moving for me. I could see God’s love and mercy. I chose to give up gatherings and my duty for fleshly pleasures, so I thought God wouldn’t save me. But He miraculously protected me through that earthquake, instead of casting me aside. God wanted me to wake up and stop coveting money, to come back before Him, pursue the truth, and do a 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 in late December, I put nearly all my time and energy into my duty. I felt some weaknesses when I ran into problems, and got really tired sometimes, 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 work hard and do my duty to repay God’s love. I thought that was the only way to 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 also gave a lot and worked hard, doing his duty until he got seriously ill. He was miserable and even blamed God. He felt like he’d given so much, so he shouldn’t have gotten so sick, and didn’t understand why God hadn’t blessed and protected him. After reading God’s words he realized he wasn’t doing his duty to pursue the truth and obey God, but it was to be blessed and get into God’s kingdom. His experience showed me that my motives in my duty might be tainted, too, because I was always hoping that God would save me from disaster. I was afraid I was trying to do a deal with God, just like him. I asked myself that night, was my duty to satisfy God, or was it to get God’s grace? I thought of the protection I got during the earthquake and of the terror I felt after the fact. I was afraid I’d fall into disaster in the future. So my longing to get back to doing a duty was just hoping God would save me from the disasters. I had the same motives and outlooks as the brother in the video. He went through illness, and I went through an earthquake. My sacrifices weren’t to submit to God and satisfy Him, but they were just to have Him protect me from disaster so I’d have a good destination and get into His kingdom. I was really upset that night. I really couldn’t accept 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 for my own gain. I didn’t have a heart of reverence, and I didn’t obey and worship God as our Creator.
I sought some truths about this later on, and found a passage from God. “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, but no matter how hard I worked, 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 for my own gain—I was doing a deal with God. I felt so ashamed and guilty when I saw my selfish motives and wrong outlooks. I prayed to God, “Oh God, I’m so corrupt. All my effort has been transactional. I’ve been cheating You. God, I’m grateful for You exposing my corruption and letting me know myself. I don’t want to do my duty just for blessings anymore. I just want to please You.”
A sister sent me some of God’s words a little later which helped me understand where I’d gone wrong in my pursuit. God’s words say, “In your faith in God, what path are you walking now? If you do not, like Peter, seek the life, and 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 entirely for the purpose of obtaining rewards from God 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 will certainly receive the greatest blessings in His house. 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 among God’s most blessed—those who gain the greatest blessings—and will then 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; they abandon things, expend themselves for Him, and are faithful to Him, but still they do all these things for their own sakes. In sum, it is all done for the purpose of gaining blessings for themselves. In society, everything is done for personal benefit; believing in God is solely done to gain blessings. It is for the sake of gaining blessings that people forsake everything and can withstand much suffering: This is all empirical evidence of man’s corrupt nature” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Difference Between External Changes and Changes in Disposition). I learned from God’s words that lots of people can give up everything to pay a price for Him, but their heart isn’t in it to satisfy God, but to get blessings. They’re just like Paul. Paul suffered plenty and traveled a lot to spread the gospel, 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 so transactional. It was all for blessings, for rewards, for a crown. He just cared about work, not practicing the truth or entering into the reality of God’s words. That’s why his disposition never changed. That’s why God never gave him His approval, even though he spread the gospel and gained lots of people. 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 that wasn’t to pursue the truth or to satisfy God, but to get His blessings. I wasn’t trying to know myself or resolve my corruption, but I just wanted God to see how much I was doing, to save me from disasters so I’d end up with a good destination and get into His kingdom. I saw how deeply corrupted by Satan I was, how selfish I was, and everything I did was for myself. I didn’t have devotion or real love for God. I only loved myself. This was so upsetting for me to see. I prayed, “God, please help me change my wrong motives and perspectives in my duty. I want to do my duty the way You require, not for myself.”
A little while later, I read another passage of God’s words that was really moving for me. God’s words say, “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 extracting blessings from God and 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, to demand that He save me from disaster so I could get into 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 blessings. I only thought of myself, not God’s will. Someone like me isn’t worthy of God’s blessings and salvation. God is righteous and holy, and He likes people 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. I wanted to change myself and my incorrect motives, to be able to 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 very 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). After reading God’s words I could see that since I’m a created being, I should do my duty—that’s my responsibility. I shouldn’t be demanding recompense or blessings from God, and I shouldn’t be thinking of whether I’ll be saved or punished. I just needed 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 I wouldn’t 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, whether I’ve changed. That’s God’s righteousness. In the disasters, even if I’m hurt or I die, I should still submit to God’s rule and never blame God. And I should never use doing a duty to try to survive the 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 He created me. In my duty after that, I was constantly examining myself and reminding myself. I couldn’t do it for selfish ends, but I had to satisfy God and bring Him joy.
Thank God! God used these situations to reveal my corruption and improper pursuits, to get me to see my despicable motives to pursue blessings and make some changes in my improper pursuits in faith. Now I’m not doing a duty to get more grace from God or escape disaster, but I just want to really pursue the truth and do my duty to repay God’s love.
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