Choosing Between School and Duty

March 8, 2023

By Lu Yang, China

As far back as I can remember, my parents never got along. Fighting was just part of their routine, and sometimes my dad would hit my mom. My mother had to live like this for years for my brother’s and my sake. She spent half her life raising us, so I felt her love for us was truly great, and that when I grew up I had to honor her. My mother later accepted God’s work of the last days and then shared the gospel with my brother and me. We’d often gather together to dance and sing hymns in praise of God, and I was so happy. But my mother didn’t pursue the truth much and came to gather and read God’s word less and less. Over the next few years, my father would still often argue with my mother and hit her, until eventually they got divorced. After the divorce, my mother worked to pay for both rent and my schooling, which made me feel heavy-hearted. I promised myself that I’d study hard, find a good job, buy my mom a place to live, and let her live the rest of her life more happily. I felt this was my duty as a daughter. After this I gathered and read God’s word much less so I could focus on my studies. I devoted all my time and energy to my schoolwork.

In September 2019, I got into a vocational college in another province. I studied hard every day, hoping to move on to university and graduate school, so that I’d be able to give my mother a better life. But campus life really disappointed me. Those who were good at sucking up to the teachers earned their favor, and so their marks were always higher in exams, but those who were really capable didn’t get as high of grades if they weren’t brown-nosers. Classmates who seemingly got along, chatting, laughing, and smiling together would backstab one another and turn into different people when their backs were turned. Some would even openly conduct affairs without any sense of shame. Campus life really depressed me and I couldn’t bear to stay another day, but when I thought of how I’d promised my mom I’d study hard, make a difference in this world and not let her down, I had no choice but to stick it out.

Then, when I came home for winter vacation in 2020, my aunt fellowshiped with me on God’s word and showed me a video called “The One Who Holds Sovereignty Over Everything.” This video shook me to my core! It made me feel God’s almighty sovereignty, that He is the Master of mankind’s fate, and that He has always guided mankind’s development. I thought about the worsening disasters and the pandemic and about how God’s work was nearly done, but because I was studying, I wasn’t doing a duty and couldn’t even participate in church life. In the end, I wouldn’t gain the truth, and would perish in the disasters and be punished. My aunt’s fellowship on God’s word helped me, supported me and warmed my heart. I understood that God had always been with me, and I wanted to attend more gatherings and do my duty in the church.

During my devotionals one day, I read a couple passages of God’s word. Almighty God says, “From the moment you come crying into this world, you begin to fulfill your duty. For God’s plan and for His ordination, you perform your role and start your life’s journey. Whatever your background, and whatever the journey ahead of you, no one can escape the orchestrations and arrangements of the Heaven, and no one is in control of their own destiny, for only He who rules over all things is capable of such work. Since the day man came into existence, God has ever worked thus, managing the universe, directing the rules of change for all things and the trajectory of their movement. Like all things, man is quietly and unknowingly nourished by the sweetness and rain and dew from God; like all things, man unknowingly lives beneath the orchestration of God’s hand(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God Is the Source of Man’s Life). “Not a single one of this humanity that God cares for day and night takes it upon themselves to worship Him. God only continues to work on man, for whom He holds out no expectations, as He has planned. He does so in the hope that one day, man will awaken from his dream and suddenly realize the value and meaning of life, the price God paid for all that He has given him, and the eager solicitude with which God waits for man to turn back to Him(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God Is the Source of Man’s Life). Thinking over God’s word, I felt very moved. I thought of how I’d accepted God’s work of the last days with my mother when I was a child, but due to my studies I’d stopped going to gatherings and reading God’s word, drifting ever further from God. Just when I thought my life was going to carry on like this, my aunt had suddenly approached me to read me God’s word and show me a gospel video. It was clear to me that this had been arranged by God. My fate has always been in God’s hands. Since birth, I have lived under His rule and predestination. Even though I strayed from God along the way, He arranged for people and circumstances to awaken my spirit and bring me back into His house. I saw God’s love and protection. I heard God’s words once again and couldn’t rebel against Him or wound Him again. I wanted to truly believe in God and do the duty of a created being.

But I couldn’t stop wondering, what is the true value and meaning of life? Could it really be the pursuit of diplomas and degrees? Mulling over this question, I recalled the word of God. “Once someone is mired in fame and gain, they no longer seek that which is bright, that which is righteous, or those things that are beautiful and good. This is because the seductive power that fame and gain have over people is too great; they become things for people to pursue throughout their lives and even for all eternity without end. Is this not true? Some people will say that learning knowledge is nothing more than reading books or learning a few things that they do not already know so as not to lag behind the times or be left behind by the world. Knowledge is only learned so they can put food on the table, for their own future, or to provide the basic necessities. Is there any person who would endure a decade of hard study just for the basic necessities, just to resolve the issue of food? No, there are none like this. So why does a person suffer these hardships for all these years? It is for fame and gain. Fame and gain are waiting for them in the distance, beckoning them, and they believe that only through their own diligence, hardships and struggles can they follow the road that will lead them to attain fame and gain. Such a person must suffer these hardships for their own future path, for their future enjoyment and to gain a better life. What on earth is this knowledge—can you tell Me? Is it not the rules and philosophies for living that Satan instills in man, such as ‘Love the Party, love the country, and love your religion’ and ‘A wise man submits to circumstances’? Is it not life’s ‘lofty ideals’ instilled into man by Satan? Take, for example, the ideas of great people, the integrity of the famous or the brave spirit of heroic figures, or take the chivalry and kindness of the protagonists and swordsmen in martial arts novels—are these not all ways in which Satan instills these ideals? These ideas influence one generation after another, and the people of each generation are brought to accept these ideas. They constantly struggle in the pursuit of ‘lofty ideals’ that they will even sacrifice their lives for. This is the means and approach by which Satan uses knowledge to corrupt people. So after Satan leads people upon this path, are they able to obey and worship God? And are they able to accept God’s words and pursue the truth? Absolutely not—because they have been led astray by Satan. Let us look again at the knowledge, thoughts, and opinions instilled in people by Satan: Do these things contain the truths of obedience to God and worship of God? Are there the truths of fearing God and shunning evil? Are there any of the words of God? Is there anything in them that relates to the truth? Not at all—these things are totally absent(The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique VI). From God’s word I understood that Satan instills its ideas into people by having them constantly learn knowledge, and makes people want to stand out and bring honor to their family name. It convinces them that their fate is in their own hands and that knowledge can help them change it. By living their lives based on these ideas, people defy God, drifting further and further from Him. When we were studying, the teachers would often tell us: “If you want to do well, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree and postgraduate studies. Only these will prove that you’re capable.” After I accepted these ideas, I started to think of ways to improve my skills, joining competitions and preparing for professional certification exams. I thought I could change my fate like this. But in my blind academic pursuit and my single-minded drive to use my education and knowledge to stand out, my heart had slowly drifted from God. I stopped reading God’s word and rarely prayed. I was no different from an unbeliever. I saw that I didn’t understand the truth and that I’d always longed to stand out by studying and gaining knowledge. Only then did I see that the pursuit of knowledge is Satan’s way of corrupting and misleading us, and that the more we chase knowledge, the more we drift from God and resist Him. At the thought of this consequence, I began to re-evaluate the path I had chosen.

One day, I read a passage of God’s word: “As members of the human race and devout Christians, it is the responsibility and obligation of us all to offer up our minds and bodies for the fulfillment of God’s commission, for our entire being came from God, and it exists thanks to the sovereignty of God. If our minds and bodies are not for God’s commission and not for the righteous cause of mankind, then our souls will feel unworthy of those who were martyred for God’s commission, and much more unworthy of God, who has provided us with everything(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Appendix 2: God Presides Over the Fate of All Mankind). Having read God’s word, I was filled with a strong sense of responsibility. Man was made by God. Believing in God, worshiping God, and doing the duty of a created being are right and natural things to do. These are also honorable things. God’s will is for us to spread His gospel, and bring more people before Him to accept His salvation. I was lucky enough to receive God’s work first, so I thought I should heed His will and take on this responsibility. Failing to fulfill one’s duty is truly rebellious and makes one unworthy to live on this earth. Only by doing the duty of a created being can one be called human. Around that time, I heard a hymn of God’s word, called “What the Young Must Pursue.” There are a few lines in it that say: “Young people should not be without the resolve to exercise discernment in issues and to seek justice and the truth. You should pursue all things beautiful and good, and you should obtain the reality of all positive things. You should be responsible toward your life, and you must not take it lightly(Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). God’s words gave me a path of practice. As a person, I should pursue the truth, do the duty of a created being, and live a meaningful life. I had to be responsible for my own life. I didn’t want to carry on studying. I wanted to do my duty in the church.

I later told my mom how I felt. She was furious. She said: “I’ve spent so much on your education over the years just to give you a brighter future and so that when you graduate and get a good job, it’ll reflect well on me. No matter what you say, I won’t let you drop out of school. I’m only thinking about what’s best for you.” Hearing my mom say this made me so angry. I didn’t expect her to react like this. But at the same time, I felt conflicted and I couldn’t just forget everything she’d given me. If I chose to do a duty, I’d be disappointing her and letting her down, but if I stayed in school and gave up on my faith and duty, I’d feel guilty, and I didn’t want to live that way, either. Though hesitant, I still insisted on quitting school. Seeing I’d made up my mind, she agreed to come along for the withdrawal procedures. But at the school, my supervisor said to me: “Please think this through. In a year you’ll have graduated, and once you have your degree you can do whatever you want. You need to know that it’s much harder to get a job without a degree. …” Seeing I was unmoved by this, my mother said to me sincerely: “Won’t you please stay in school? I’ve got such high hopes for you. You won’t have to worry about money. I will always provide for your education. Your Dad and I have divorced so you’re all I’ve got left. You’re my only hope. …” My mother cried as she said this. Seeing my mother crying these tears of distress really got to me. I thought: “I’m only a year from graduating. Should I just finish my degree? If I start my duty after I graduate, my mother won’t object.” So I compromised and chose to stay in school. But while I was studying, I couldn’t do my duty and I felt so guilty. So I prayed to God: “God, I’m so weak and don’t know how to walk the path that lies ahead. Please guide me.”

One day, I read a passage of God’s word. “Due to the conditioning of Chinese traditional culture, Chinese people believe that one must observe filial piety toward their parents. Whoever does not observe filial piety is an unfilial child. These ideas have been instilled in people since childhood, and they are taught in practically every household, as well as in every school and in society at large. When a person’s head has been filled with such stuff, they think, ‘Filial piety is more important than anything. If I weren’t to observe it, I wouldn’t be a good person—I’d be an unfilial child and I’d be reprimanded by society. I’d be a person who lacks conscience.’ Is this view correct? People have seen all of the truths expressed by God—has God demanded that one show filial piety toward their parents? Is this one of the truths that believers in God must understand? No, it is not. God has only fellowshiped on some principles. By what principle do God’s words ask that people treat others? Love what God loves, and hate what God hates: This is the principle that should be adhered to. God loves those who pursue the truth and are able to follow His will. These are also the people that we should love. Those who are not able to follow God’s will, who hate God, and rebel against God—these people are despised by God, and we should despise them, too. This is what God asks of man. If your parents do not believe in God, if they know full well that faith in God is the right path, and that it can lead to salvation, yet remain unreceptive, then there is no doubt that they are people who are sick of the truth, who hate the truth, and there is no doubt that they are those who resist God, and hate God—and God naturally abhors and despises them. Could you despise such parents? They are liable to oppose God, and revile God—in which case, they are surely demons and Satans. Could you abhor and curse them, too? These are all real questions. If your parents prevent you from believing in God, how should you treat them? As is asked by God, you should love what God loves, and hate what God hates. During the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus said, ‘Who is My mother? And who are My brothers?’ ‘For whoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother.’ These words already existed back in the Age of Grace, and now God’s words are even more clear: ‘Love what God loves, and hate what God hates.’ These words cut straight to the point, yet people are often unable to appreciate their true meaning. If a person is someone who denies and opposes God, who is cursed by God, but they are a parent or relative of yours, are not an evildoer as far as you can tell, and treat you well, then you might find yourself unable to hate that person, and might even remain in close contact with them, your relationship unchanged. Hearing that God despises such people will trouble you, and you are unable to stand on the side of God and ruthlessly reject them. You’re always bound by emotion, and you cannot let go of them. What is the reason for this? This happens because you value emotion too much, and it hinders you from practicing the truth. That person is good to you, so you can’t bring yourself to hate them. You could only hate them if they did hurt you. Would that hatred be in line with the principles of the truth? Also, you’re bound by traditional notions, thinking that they are a parent or relative, so if you hate them, you would be scorned by society and reviled by public opinion, condemned as unfilial, without a conscience, and not even human. You think you would suffer divine condemnation and punishment. Even if you want to hate them, your conscience won’t let you. Why does your conscience function this way? It’s a way of thinking that has been imparted to you by your family since childhood, by what your parents taught you with and what traditional culture steeped you in. It’s rooted very deeply in your heart, making you mistakenly believe that filial piety is ordained by Heaven and acknowledged by earth, that it is inherited from your ancestors and is always a good thing. You learned it first and it remains dominant, creating a great stumbling block and disruption in your faith and acceptance of the truth, leaving you unable to put God’s words into practice, and to love what God loves, hate what God hates. … Is man not pitiful? Do they not have need of God’s salvation? Some people have believed in God for many years, but still have no insight into the matter of filial piety. They really do not understand the truth(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Recognizing One’s Own Misguided Views Can One Truly Transform). From God’s word I came to understand that with the pervasive influence of traditional culture, “Filial piety is a virtue to be held above all else” had become my code of conduct. I thought filial piety was the most important thing and that if I wasn’t observing it, I wasn’t human. Thinking back on my childhood, I saw my mom suffered a lot and it couldn’t’ve been easy for her, so I told myself I’d listen to her and not hurt her. My mom suffered so much to raise me, and if I couldn’t honor or obey her, then I was ungrateful and heartless. So from childhood, I resolved to study hard and make something of myself so that my mother could live a good life. I did everything she said so as not to hurt her. After I accepted God’s work in the last days, I understood that doing a duty and pursuing the truth were worthwhile and meaningful, but with my mom crying and begging me to stay in school, I compromised. To satisfy my mom’s hopes, I didn’t do my duty, even though I wanted to satisfy God. I’d become trapped by the idea of “Filial piety is a virtue to be held above all else.” God demands that we love what He loves and hate what He hates. These are God’s demands of us and they are principles I should adhere to. If my parents truly believe in God, I should love them and treat them as brothers and sisters. But if they don’t believe in God, persecute me or obstruct my faith, then they despise and hate the truth and are in opposition to God, and I shouldn’t just blindly go along with what they say. My mother believed in God but didn’t pursue the truth and stopped me from doing a duty. I saw she was a nonbeliever and an enemy of God. I had no discernment before, and thought that, as their child, I should honor my parents and always listen to them, that this was having humanity and a conscience. Only then did I see that this mistaken view didn’t conform to the truth. Honoring one’s parents should accord with principles and not just be blind obedience. This is the principle of practice.

Later on, I read more of God’s word: “Now you should be able to clearly see the precise path that Peter took. If you can clearly see Peter’s path, then you will be certain about the work being done today, so you will not complain or be passive, or long for anything. You should experience Peter’s mood at the time: He was stricken with sorrow; he no longer asked for a future or any blessings. He did not seek profit, happiness, fame, or fortune in the world; he only sought to live the most meaningful life, which was to repay God’s love and dedicate what he held utterly most precious to God. Then he would be satisfied in his heart. … During the agony of his test, Jesus appeared to him again and said: ‘Peter, I wish to make you perfect, such that you become a piece of fruit, one that is the crystallization of My perfection of you, and which I will enjoy. Can you truly testify for Me? Have you done what I ask you to do? Have you lived out the words I have spoken? You once loved Me, but though you loved Me, have you lived Me out? What have you done for Me? You recognize that you are unworthy of My love, but what have you done for Me?’ Peter saw that he had done nothing for Jesus and remembered his previous oath to give his life to God. And so, he no longer complained, and his prayers from then on grew much better(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. How Peter Came to Know Jesus). This is what the Lord Jesus asked Peter, but it felt like God was asking me the same thing. I asked myself: “What have I done for God? Peter loved God so much that he was able to give up everything to follow the Lord. But me? God gave me my life, but what have I done for Him? Absolutely nothing. All I’ve ever thought about is my parents and my future. I’m even willing to spend all my time and energy studying and earning money so I can repay their kindness. If I can’t live up to their expectations, I’ll feel I’ve let them down and be struck by guilt, but I haven’t been doing my duty as a created being, and yet I don’t feel like I’m letting God down. I have no conscience.” Thinking on Peter’s experience, though his parents stood in his way, he didn’t care about their opposition and gave up everything to follow the Lord Jesus. He was truly someone with conscience and reason. We are created by God, so it is right and natural for us to believe in Him and worship Him. God chose me and brought me before Him, giving me a chance to be saved. God’s love is truly great! I had to repay God’s love and give up everything to follow God just like Peter. After this I read a couple more passages of God’s word that further inspired me. “Awaken, brothers! Awaken, sisters! My day will not be delayed; time is life, and to seize back time is to save life! The time is not far off! If you fail the college entrance examination, you can study and retake it as many times as you like. However, My day will brook no further delay. Remember! Remember! I urge you with these good words. The end of the world unfolds before your very eyes, and great disasters rapidly draw near. Which is more important: your life, or your sleep, your food and drink and clothing? The time has come for you to weigh these things(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 30). “Keep watch! Keep watch! Time lost will never come again—remember this! There is no medicine in the world that cures regret! So, how should I speak to you? Is My word not worthy of your careful, repeated consideration?(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 30). Each of God’s words spoke to the very heart of me. Time is running out now. Disasters are growing larger and countries around the world are in turmoil. The days are counting down one by one, and pursuit of the truth is crucial. If I didn’t keep up with God’s work and pursued carnal things, focusing on things like my studies, future, and family, then it would be too late to pursue the truth by the time God’s work ended. Without the truth, I would perish in the disasters and be punished, and it’d be too late to repent. God’s salvation had come to me once again and I had to grab hold of this opportunity, pursue the truth, and do the duty of a created being to repay God’s love.

I did make up my mind that I’d leave school. So I said to my mom: “Mom, I’m not going back to school. I don’t care what anyone says, but I’m choosing my own path and I hope you can respect me.” She said: “Your aunt has already said that once you graduate and get your degree, she’ll arrange a job for you. We can find you a good partner after that and you can live a happy life.” But my mom’s words couldn’t persuade me anymore, because I saw clearly that my mother wasn’t doing this out of true love. She was just considering my immediate interests, not my life or my future destination. I then recalled a passage of God’s word. “Tell Me, from whom does everything to do with people originate? Who bears the greatest burden for human life? (God.) God alone loves people the most. Do people’s parents and relatives really love them? Is the love that they give true love? Can it save people from the influence of Satan? It cannot. People are numb and dull-witted, unable to see through these things, and always say, ‘How does God love me? I don’t feel it. Anyway, my mother and father love me the most. They pay for my studies and make me learn technical skills, so that I can make something of myself when I grow up, be successful, become a star, a celebrity. My parents spend so much money to cultivate me and provide me with an education, scrimping and saving on food. How great a love is that? I can’t ever repay them!’ Do you think that is love? What are the consequences of your parents making you succeed, become a celebrity in the world, have a good job, and assimilate into the world? They endlessly make you pursue success, bring honor to your family, and assimilate into the evil trends of the world, so that in the end you fall into the vortex of sin, suffer perdition and perish, before being devoured by Satan. Is that love? That is not loving you, that is harming you, destroying you(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. To Gain the Truth, One Must Learn From the People, Matters, and Things Nearby). Though it seemed like my mom was only doing things for my benefit, cutting back on meals and clothing and working herself to the bone for my schooling, little did she realize there were satanic poisons and fallacies in what I was learning that would make me drift further from God and deny His existence. Atheist ideas students are taught like, “There has never been any Savior,” “Man can create a pleasant homeland with his own hands,” “No pain, no gain,” and “Stand out above the rest, and bring honor to your ancestors,” make us strive toward our ideals and try to stand out from the crowd to get ahead of others. People live by these ideas and views, trying to break from God’s rule and change their fate with their own hands. They end up opposing and denying God more and more, losing their chance to be saved. This is Satan’s evil path. The pursuit of these things could only lead me further from God and into Satan’s corruption. It would push me toward hell! At this I understood that my parents’ love wasn’t true love and that only God’s love is true love. Seeking to stand out and bring honor to your family name is not the right path in life. Only pursuing the truth and doing the duty of a created being will result in God’s protection. Once I understood all this, I decided to leave school and devote myself to a duty for God. So I told my mom: “Mom, you want me to keep studying, find a good job, find a good husband, and make something of myself, but can you guarantee I’ll be happy like this? That I’ll have a good fate? You can’t, nobody can! Mom, the best thing you did in your life was to spread the gospel of Almighty God to us and lead me to the right path. This was entirely correct.” My mom was silent for a moment and then said: “Look after yourself. Stay in touch.” After that, I went and withdrew from the school. The moment I set foot outside the school, I was truly free. I was no longer constrained by my studies or family and could finally do my duty in the church.

This was all several years ago, but every time it comes to mind, I feel so glad. It was God’s step-by-step guidance that allowed me to choose correctly between my duty and my studies, and to walk the right path in life. I truly felt God’s love and earnest intent. I am now able to do the duty of a created being and my life is not in vain. I am truly happy.

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