That Was Close! I Nearly Let the Lord Pass Me By (Part 1)
By Weilian, United States
Not long after I finished high school, I was tricked into joining a pyramid scheme by a friend. I really wanted to get out of it, but there was just no way for me to do it. I was helpless and in pain and felt that my future was dark, devoid of light—I was totally lost. In July 2016, in the midst of my pain and helplessness a copy of the Bible made its way into my hands; I learned that God created the world and human beings. I was moved by the Lord Jesus’ redemption of mankind and silently said to God, “If you’re really such a loving, merciful God in this universe, in this world, I ask You to help me escape from my pain and lead me to a place where I can change my fate, a place full of hope.” I made this entreaty often, and amazingly, less than one month later I was on my way to the United States.
The very first thing I did after getting to the States was find a Chinese church in New York’s Chinatown, and after that I attended service every Sunday.
Setting the Stage for Welcoming Jesus’ Return: A Great Harvest From Happenstance
One day about a year later, I heard the pastor say, “We are living in the last days and the Lord Jesus could return at any moment and rapture us into the kingdom of heaven. We must vigilantly await Him. The Eastern Lightning is giving testimony that the Lord has already returned in the flesh, and that He is a woman. This simply isn’t possible! The Bible says, ‘He that has the bride is the bridegroom’ (John 3:29). When the Lord returns the ‘bridegroom’ will take the ‘bride’ in marriage, so this reference to the bridegroom means that when the Lord returns He will certainly be a man. How could He possibly be female?” The pastor then went on to say other things condemning Eastern Lightning and emphasized over and over again that we shouldn’t listen to them; he urged us to be on our guard with strangers. When he said this I nodded very earnestly, and after that whenever someone I didn’t know approached me in the church, I refused to talk to them.
By happenstance, I met Brother Zhao along with Sister Tina, who I knew pretty well, at the home of one of her friends. When I learned that Brother Zhao was a preacher I immediately got my guard up and asked him probingly, “Brother, I’ve heard that you go all over the place spreading the gospel and shepherding churches. Are you familiar with Eastern Lightning? They bear witness that the Lord has already returned, that He’s Almighty God in the flesh. They also say that He was incarnated as a woman. What’s your take on this?” Brother Zhao smiled and said, “the term ‘Eastern Lightning’ comes from one of the Lord’s prophecies in the Bible, ‘For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even to the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be’ (Matthew 24:27). So it certainly has something to do with the coming in the last days of the Son of man. We don’t really have a good understanding of Eastern Lightning, but as believers we must have reverence for God, and we can’t just arbitrarily express our own opinions. James 4:12 says, ‘There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who are you that judge another?’ And Proverbs 13:3 says, ‘He that keeps his mouth keeps his life: but he that opens wide his lips shall have destruction.’ These verses very clearly remind us to very carefully guard our words so that we don’t arbitrarily pass judgment and offend God. We are created beings so before the Creator, we must possess reason and a heart of reverence for God. God’s plan is within however He carries out His work; we can’t rely on our own notions and imaginings to delimit how we think the Lord should work. If we just randomly spout off about God’s work, we very well may offend His disposition and suffer His displeasure, bringing ruin upon ourselves.”
Brother Zhao’s very reasonable words left me feeling abashed. I thought of how I had no understanding whatsoever of Eastern Lightning and had just taken in hearsay and parroted, but still arbitrarily judged it. Isn’t that really unreasonable? Isn’t it a problem to wantonly say things that offend God, without a heart of reverence for Him? Thinking through this, I didn’t say anything more but started listening to Brother Zhao’s fellowship in earnest. He integrated some Bible passages into his fellowship on aspects of the truth such as what true faith is, the difference between believing in God and believing in a person, how to look at the return of the Lord Jesus in the last days, and how the wise virgins discern the Lord’s voice. His fellowship was full of the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit; hearing it made my heart light up and I gained understanding of many truths I had never understood before. It occurred to me that the church pastors and elders only talk about the literal meaning of the Bible and some theoretical biblical knowledge; it’s all dull and lifeless and brings no enjoyment. There’s no sustenance for my soul, and in every gathering I can’t keep from nodding off. That day having fellowship with Brother Zhao was the first time I had a truly rewarding experience. I felt I gained more in that one gathering than I had over my previous several years of faith—I was happy and looking forward to our next meeting.
My Battle in Welcoming Jesus’ Return: So That Was Eastern Lightning—What Now?
After a few more gatherings, Brother Zhao gave testimony that the Lord has already returned, and He is Almighty God in the flesh doing the work of judgment beginning with the house of God. When he said that the Lord Jesus has returned and is called Almighty God, I immediately thought of the pastor’s many warnings not to listen to what is preached by Eastern Lightning. I started feeling restless and unsettled. I listened for a bit longer before leaving, but my heart wasn’t in it. When I got home I flopped onto my bed and thought back over the several times I had heard fellowship from Brother Zhao. He always integrated Bible passages into his fellowship on the truth, and what he shared was practical and really contained light. I could feel the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and nothing seemed off. I had come to understand all sorts of truths I had never understood before and I felt real spiritual sustenance. However, the pastors and elders in religious circles all condemned Eastern Lightning. I was at a loss regarding who I should listen to. I tossed and turned, unable to sleep, feeling more conflicted the more I thought about it. I was really afraid of taking the wrong path and losing salvation for all eternity. This was really a dilemma—on the one hand, I really wanted to walk away from it, but on the other hand, I really wanted to continue seeking and investigating. I told Sister Tina that evening what was on my mind, and after hearing me out she shared this passage: “The return of Jesus is a great salvation for those who are capable of accepting the truth, but for those who are unable to accept the truth it is a sign of condemnation. You should choose your own path, and should not blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and reject the truth. You should not be an ignorant and arrogant person, but someone who obeys the guidance of the Holy Spirit and longs for and seeks the truth; only in this way will you benefit. I advise you to tread the path of belief in God with care. Do not jump to conclusions; what’s more, do not be casual and carefree in your belief in God. You should know that, at the very least, those who believe in God should be humble and reverential” (“When You Behold the Spiritual Body of Jesus Will Be When God Has Made Anew Heaven and Earth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Sister Tina replied, “Brother, welcoming the Lord’s coming is an extremely important matter. We must pray and seek the Lord’s guidance more; if we just blindly listen to what anyone says and randomly pass judgment we could very likely lose God’s salvation!” After hearing her fellowship I read this passage several more times and felt that in my approach to the Lord’s return, I had been judging things based on my own subjective ideas instead of seeking the Lord’s will. Acting like that, I wasn’t worthy of being called a Christian, and I could very easily miss the Lord’s second coming. Since I had heard news of the Lord Jesus’ return, I realized I should pray and seek the Lord’s guidance; if Almighty God really is the returned Lord Jesus and I didn’t accept Him, wouldn’t I miss my chance at being raptured? I wasted no time kneeling down and praying to the Lord, “Oh Lord, is Eastern Lightning Your appearance and work? Right now, I don’t fully understand this and I’m really afraid of taking the wrong path, but I’m also afraid of missing out on Your salvation. Lord, I’m really lost. I beg You to point out the way forward for me and keep me from going the wrong way so that I can welcome Your return.”
On my way to church two days later, a sister told me a story about someone being saved just in the nick of time—I found it really moving. After getting to church, I once again opened up to the Lord about my difficulty in prayer. Surprisingly, the pastor then told a similar story in his sermon. I was really taken aback, and very moved. Unexpectedly, within one day I had heard two people tell stories of someone being saved just in time. Pondering this, I thought, “Could the Lord be using this anecdote to tell me not to miss my chance at His salvation?” I then suddenly understood the Lord’s will and gave thanks for His enlightenment and guidance from my heart. I then decided to continue seeking and looking into Almighty God’s work.