The Elderly Can Still Bear Witness for God
By Liu En, China
I believed in the Lord at the age of 62. Knowing that the Lord promised His followers entry into His kingdom and eternal life made me feel like I had hope in this life, and the thought of receiving such a great blessing made my heart sing. I started going all over the place, working hard for the Lord and I had boundless energy every day. Three years later, I had the good fortune to accept’s work of the last days. I was really excited to have welcomed the Lord, and to have hope of being fully saved and entering His kingdom. So I started working even harder in my pursuit and sacrifices, actively sharing the gospel and doing my duty. I hardly rested all week, and I’d even go out to share the gospel in the evening. The brothers and sisters later elected me as a church leader and then a preacher. Having the chance to do such important duties at my advanced age made me really happy. In gatherings I saw that I was the oldest one there, but I could still preside over gatherings and help the others resolve their problems. This made me feel really honored. I figured as long as I worked hard in my pursuit, I could certainly be saved just like younger folks, so I had unflagging drive to do my duty.
Seven or eight years went by in a flash, and my health and energy weren’t what they used to be. Then I had a cerebral infarction when I was 73. But after being on an IV drip for a couple of days, my symptoms practically disappeared. I didn’t have any residual effects. I felt God must have seen that I was true in my faith, that I served happily and whole-heartedly, so He had blessed me. I was really grateful and kept doing my duty. But taking my health into consideration, the leader had me serve as a host at home. Seeing there were several duties I wouldn’t be doing anymore, but I’d just be hosting at home left me feeling desolate. Especially seeing the young brothers and sisters full of energy, busy with all sorts of duties, I felt envious. I thought that since I was old and in poor health, I couldn’t run around or do lots of kinds of duties anymore, I must be worthless. I really wished I could go back 10 or 20 years and do all sorts of different duties just like them, then my chance at salvation would be greater. I just couldn’t compare to the young people now that I was old. That thought left me feeling drained, and I got depressed before I knew it. Also, I knew that strokes are things that tend to recur, so if I had another one someday, that could be the end of me, and I wouldn’t see the day of God’s glory. Then how would I be saved? Not being able to expend myself for God, I felt I had no chance at salvation, so what was the point of believing in God? This was a gloomy, depressing thought for me. For a while I wasn’t even readingor listening to hymns. In my misery, I prayed to God, “God! I feel that I have no hope of salvation any longer. I’m so down, I feel sapped of life. God, I don’t want to distance myself from You. I know I’m not in the right state, but I don’t know how to fix this. Please guide me out of this incorrect state.”
I read this in God’s words one day: “God’s wish is for every person to be made perfect, to be ultimately gained by Him, to be completely cleansed by Him, and to become people He loves. It matters not whether I say you are backward or of poor caliber—this is all fact. My saying this does not prove that I intend to forsake you, that I have lost hope in you, much less that I am unwilling to save you. Today I have come to do the work of your salvation, which is to say that the work I do is a continuation of the work of salvation. Every person has the chance to be made perfect: Provided that you are willing, provided that you pursue, in the end you will be able to achieve this result, and not one of you will be forsaken. If you are of poor caliber, My requirements of you will be in accordance with your poor caliber; if you are of high caliber, My requirements of you will be in accordance with your high caliber; if you are ignorant and illiterate, My requirements of you will be in accordance with your illiteracy; if you are literate, My requirements of you will be in accordance with the fact that you are literate; if you are elderly, My requirements of you will be in accordance with your age; if you are capable of providing hospitality, My requirements of you will be in accordance with this capability; if you say you cannot offer hospitality, and can only perform a certain function, whether it be spreading the gospel, or taking care of the church, or attending to other general affairs, My perfection of you will be in accordance with the function that you perform. Being loyal, obeying to the very end, and seeking to have supreme love for God—this is what you must accomplish, and there are no better practices than these three things” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Restoring the Normal Life of Man and Taking Him to a Wonderful Destination). God’s words clarified things for me right away. God doesn’t determine people’s outcomes based on whether they can expend themselves, their age, or how many duties they can do. As long as they’re devoted in their duty and can submit to God’s rule and arrangements, and they seek to satisfy God, they can be saved. But I didn’t understand God’s will and didn’t know who He saves. I always mistakenly believed that I had to be able to go all over the place and do lots of work to be saved. Since I was getting old and I couldn’t work as hard as the young people, I delimited myself as having no chance at salvation. I became mired in negativity and misunderstandings, and even had thoughts of betraying God. I was so rebellious! Even though I was old and I couldn’t do as many duties as young people, God didn’t make the same requirements of me. And He really wasn’t depriving me of chances to pursue the truth and do a duty. My mind and my sanity were still intact and I could read God’s words and do everything I was able to in my duty. But without seeking God’s will, I delimited myself as old and useless, as having fallen out of God’s favor, and I thought of betraying God. Wasn’t that doubting God because of a cunning disposition? God never said that doing lots of duties could get a person saved or that once someone gets old God would cast them out, and not save them anymore. He was actually crystal clear about how someone should pursue and approach their duty when they get old. As long as I was devoted and obedient till the end, and I could pursue love of God, I had hope of salvation. Not looking at things based on God’s words was so foolish of me. I treated my own notions and imaginings as the truth, misunderstanding God’s will all along. My conscience really felt accused, and I came before God in prayer, “Oh God! I have to stop being negative and resistant because of my wrong views. As long as I have another breath, another day to live, another day to do my duty, I’ll keep seeking to move forward and to enter into the truth.” Prayer and the guidance of God’s words brought me some comfort—I didn’t feel so upset. I thought that as long as I had my sanity and my mobility, I would lean on God to be a good host and put my all into offering my heartfelt service to God.
But there was still something I didn’t understand. Why did I get depressed when I saw I wasn’t as capable as the young people, even thinking of betraying God? What was the root of that? In my seeking, I read this in God’s words: “People believe in God in order to be blessed, to be rewarded, to be crowned. Doesn’t this exist in everyone’s heart? It is a fact that it does. Although people don’t often talk about it, and even cover up their motive and desire to obtain blessings, this desire and motive deep in people’s hearts has always been unshakable. No matter how much spiritual theory people understand, what experience or knowledge they have, what duty they can perform, how much suffering they endure, or how much of a price they pay, they never let go of the motivation for blessings hidden deep in their hearts, and always silently labor in its service. Isn’t this the thing buried deepest inside people’s hearts? Without this motivation to receive blessings, how would you feel? With what attitude would you perform your duty? What would happen if this motivation to receive blessings that is hidden in people’s hearts was gotten rid of? Perhaps many people would become negative, while some might become demotivated in their duties. They would lose interest in their belief in God, as if their soul has vanished. They would appear as if their heart was snatched away. This is why I say the motivation for blessings is something hidden deep in people’s hearts” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Six Indicators of Life Growth). “Antichrists believe in God only in order to profit, and they try to make deals with God. Their intent and desire to gain blessings and rewards are overwhelming; they hold fast to them and do not let them go. God says so much, yet they do not accept any of it, thinking all the while, ‘Gaining blessings is what believing in God is for; it’s for gaining a good destination. This is the supreme principle, and nothing can be higher than it. If belief in God weren’t for gaining blessings, then people shouldn’t believe; if it weren’t for the sake of gaining blessings, then believing in God would have no significance or value—they’d be lost.’ Is there someone who instills an antichrist with these thoughts? Do they come from someone’s tutelage or influence? They do not—these thoughts are decided by an antichrist’s inborn nature and essence. No one can change them. God incarnate is saying so much today, and antichrists accept none of it at all, but resist and condemn Him. Their nature of being sick of the truth and hating it is forever immutable. And what does that immutability show? It shows that they are evil by nature. The issue is not whether they pursue the truth or not—theirs is an evil disposition. They brazenly clamor against God and oppose Him—this is their nature and essence, and is their true countenance” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Seven (Part Two)). “Antichrists treat the performance of duty as a transaction. They perform their duty transactionally, in a chase to gain blessings. They believe that gaining blessings is what belief in God is for, that it is proper to be blessed for performing a duty. They distort the positive thing that is the performance of duty, demeaning the value and significance of a created being’s performance of duty and demeaning the legitimacy of a created being’s performance of duty. They take the duty that is right and proper for a created being to perform and turn it into a transaction” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Seven)). I saw from God’s words that antichrists have faith just to receive blessings, their transactional mindset never changes, and they won’t give up no matter how difficult or miserable it is. If they lose all hope of being blessed, it’s as if it’s the end of their very life. They feel that continuing to have faith is meaningless, and they fight against and resist God. I saw that I was acting exactly like an antichrist. When I believed in the Lord, I was overjoyed to hear that my faith could get me entry into God’s kingdom. I felt that to gain God’s blessings and grace in this life, then the eternal life in the next, any suffering would be worthwhile. Being blessed and entering God’s kingdom became my goal in faith and I thought that the more I sacrificed, the greater my blessings would be in the future. After accepting Almighty God’s work of the last days, I felt even more that my dream of being blessed would come true, and had more drive for my duty. I was 66 years old at that time, but I didn’t see myself as old at all. I had no concerns on my mind, but just worked hard in my duty. I rode my bike all over the place for gatherings and even if I had a stroke later on, I didn’t care. I just wanted to try hard to do my duty, using the sweat of my brow and suffering as capital to exchange for blessings. But I saw that I’d aged and I couldn’t do as many duties because of my condition. I wanted to keep traveling around but wasn’t able to, and I was becoming slowly unable to do anything. I felt like my hopes of being blessed were getting slimmer and I didn’t want to accept it. I said nothing, but in my heart I didn’t want to accept God’s rule, so I became down and resistant. And I irrationally thought that having me serve as a host meant I wasn’t valued, and I even thought of betraying God and giving up my faith. My motive in my faith was to be blessed, to do a deal with God. Wasn’t that an antichrist’s mistaken view of faith? I’d twisted something as positive and wonderful as doing a duty. I just knew to use doing my duty and traveling around as a way to do deals with God in exchange for the kingdom’s blessings, treating my duty like a tool to satisfy my wild desires. I really was dizzied by my hopes of being blessed. I could only think of getting into the kingdom of heaven. I only cared about whether I’d be blessed, what my outcome and destination would be. I had no thoughts of repaying God’s love or understanding His earnest will. I didn’t have conscience at all. God has given me the breath of life and the chance to do a duty. This is great grace from Him. But for the sake of blessings, I was always making unreasonable demands of God, reasoning with God, complaining, being negative and resistant. I was so rebellious and contrary, with an evil disposition. If God took my life from me, it would have been righteous. Seeing how serious my problem was, I prayed to God in my heart, asking Him to guide me to let go of my motives for blessings, to submit to His rule. Then I thought of some of God’s words: “I decide the destination of each person not on the basis of age, seniority, amount of suffering, and least of all, the degree to which they invite pity, but according to whether they possess the truth. There is no other choice but this” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Prepare Sufficient Good Deeds for Your Destination). God’s words helped me come to my senses. I realized that when God determines our outcome and destination, it has nothing to do with how much we’ve sacrificed for Him, how much we’ve worked or suffered. It’s based on whether we’ve gained the truth as we’ve experienced God’s work, if our corrupt dispositions have been cleansed, if they’ve been changed. I also realized, doing lots of duties isn’t the same as possessing the truth or dispositional change. No matter how many duties I do, the key is whether I’m on the path of pursuing the truth. Before, I did lots of duties and traveled all over the place, but never pursued the truth. I wanted to use my superficial efforts in exchange for a good destination. I didn’t see the transactional, adversarial mindset I had deep within me toward God. Ultimately when my desire to be blessed was broken, I argued with God and went against Him. I saw no matter how many duties I did, if I could just run around and toil without pursuing the truth, I wouldn’t have dispositional change, but I’d just become more selfish and arrogant. I’d end up reasoning and arguing with God over the work I’d done, becoming more and more evil. Just like Paul—he did a lot of work, and he did great work, but his work was in exchange for a crown. It was always a transaction with God. He didn’t repent even on the verge of death, and ended up punished by God. And Peter didn’t do much work, but in his faith he pursued the truth, and in all things sought God’s will and sought to obey Him. He had no conditions and didn’t consider whether he’d be blessed. He achieved the supreme love of God, and he gained God’s approval and was perfected by God. They were both believers, but their motives and perspectives in pursuit were different, and so were their outcomes. God is righteous, and only if we pursue the truth and dispositional change can we meet God’s will. What I was pursuing and the path I was on was just as absurd and wrong as Paul, and my outcome would be surely the same as his. The enlightenment of God’s words showed me His will and what perspective I should have in faith. I needed to learn to obey God’s rule and arrangements, to be a reasonable created being. Wasn’t that God’s love and salvation? My state improved a lot after I understood God’s will, and I was so grateful to God. When brothers and sisters came to gather after that, I offered hospitality. When they didn’t come, I read God’s words calmly and sought the truth according to my state.
I read a passage of God’s words one day. “God does not merely pay a price for each person during the decades from their birth until the present. As God sees it, you have come into this world countless times, and have been incarnated countless times. Who is in charge of this? God is in charge of this. You have no way of knowing these things. Each time you come into this world, God personally makes arrangements: He arranges how many years you will live, the sort of family into which you will be born, when you will settle down and establish yourself, as well as what you are to do in this world and what you are to do for a living. God arranges for you a way out of life, so that you may accomplish your mission in this life unhindered—and as to what you should do in your next incarnation, God arranges and delivers that life according to what you should have and what should be given to you. … Having had such arrangements made for you however many times, you have at last been born in the age of the last days, into your present family. God arranges for you an environment in which to believe in Him; He has you hear His voice and come back before Him, and you are able to follow Him and perform a duty in His house. It is only with such guidance from God that you have lived until today. You do not know how many times you have come into the world, nor how many times your appearance has changed, nor how many families you have gone through, nor how many ages and reigns you have seen—but through it all, God’s hand has been supporting you, and He has been watching over you. How much God toils for a person’s sake! Some people say, ‘I’m sixty years old. For sixty years, God has been watching over me and protecting me. For sixty years, He has ruled over my fate. If, when I’m old, I can’t perform a duty and I can’t do anything—will God still care about me?’ Is this not a silly thing to say? God’s sovereignty over man’s fate, His watch over man and protection of man, is not just a matter of a single lifespan. If it were just the matter of a single lifespan, a single lifetime, it would fail to demonstrate that God is almighty and rules over all. The labor God does and the price He pays for a person is not merely to arrange what they do in this life, but to arrange for them a countless number of lifetimes. God takes full responsibility for every soul that incarnates as a person. He works attentively, with His life as the price He pays, to guide every person and to arrange everyone’s life and days. God toils so much and pays such a price for man’s sake, and He bestows upon man all of these truths and this life. If man does not perform the duty of a created being in this, the final stretch, and does not return before the Creator—if in the end, however many lives and generations they have come through, they do not do their duty well and fail to meet God’s demands—would man’s debt to God not then be too great? Would they not be unworthy of all God has spent? They would be so heartless that they would not deserve to be called a person, as their debt to God would be too great. … God’s graciousness with man, His love for man, and His compassion for man are not merely an attitude—they are a fact, as well. What fact is that? It is that God puts His words into you, so that you are enlightened inside, so that you may see what is lovely in Him, so that you may see what this world is all about, so that your heart is filled with light, allowing you to understand His words and the truth. In this way, without your knowing it, you gain the truth. God does so much work on you in a very real way, enabling you to gain the truth. When you have gained the truth, when you have gained that most precious thing which is eternal life, God’s will is then satisfied. When God sees man in pursuit of the truth and willing to cooperate with Him, He is happy and contented. He is then of an attitude, and while He is of that attitude, He goes to work, and commends and blesses man. He says, ‘I shall reward you. Here is the blessing that you deserve.’ And you will then have gained the truth and the life. When you have knowledge of the Creator and gain an appreciation from Him, will you still feel an emptiness in your heart? You will not; you will be fulfilled and feel a sense of enjoyment. Is this not what it is to live with value? It is the most valuable, most significant sort of life” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Paying the Price to Gain the Truth Is of Great Significance). God’s words were really moving for me, and really comforting. No matter how old I was or what my health was like, as long as I loved and pursued the truth, God wouldn’t give up on me. But I’d misunderstood God’s will. I thought that since I was old and not useful anymore, I couldn’t do as many duties. I could get seriously ill and be gone someday, then I’d have no hope of salvation. I felt there’d be no meaning in faith, and I didn’t want to keep pursuing. I saw I’d been influenced by the wrong views and had been misunderstanding God’s will. I’d sunk into weakness and negativity, and was toyed with by Satan. Before, I didn’t know that as a created being, I should submit to God and satisfy Him. I didn’t have that reason. I just had faith for fleshly blessings—I was doing a deal with God. Now I could see that with that pursuit, even if I lived to 800 there would be no meaning or value in it. When Job faced disaster and his possessions were stripped away, he never thought about what he gained or lost. When he broke out in boils and life was unbearable, when he had little hope of life, he never blamed God. He submitted to God’s rule and arrangements through his true faith in God. He bore a resounding witness for God before Satan, comforting God’s heart. Ultimately he was blessed by God, and God appeared to him. In Peter’s faith, no matter what God arranged, Peter sought God’s will and submitted to God, and focused on practicing the Lord’s words. Ultimately, he was crucified upside down for God in obedience to Him, doing the duty of a created being, living out a life of meaning. Now I knew that as a believer, trying to submit to God and satisfy God, doing a created being’s duty, learning and gaining the truth in the course of doing my duty, coming to submit to and love God, is the way to not live an empty life, to live a life of meaning. This is what God will approve of. Always trying to do deals with God, using working hard and expending oneself in exchange for the blessings of the kingdom is so vile, and their life has no meaning or value. I couldn’t keep thinking about whether I’d be blessed in the future or not. I wanted to pursue the truth for every day I was alive, do my best to perform my duty by relying on God, try to submit to God and satisfy Him, and pursue dispositional change while doing my duty. Even if one day I got seriously ill and was facing death, and I didn’t have the chance to do a duty anymore, I’d still submit to God’s rule. What I should focus on now was doing my best to perform my duty in this lifetime. Whatever my outcome is, if it’s life or if it’s death is up to God’s rule. It’s not something I, as a created being, should consider. I felt much more relaxed when I thought about it that way. After that, I read God’s words and listened to hymns normally every day. When I revealed corruption, I prayed, sought the truth, and knew my satanic dispositions, and opened up in fellowship with brothers and sisters. I gradually made some gains. Generally when I needed to do my duty, I was actively engaged, and I tried hard to share the gospel with those around me. When I saw brothers and sisters writing testimonial articles, I also wanted to write articles testifying to God. I felt that kind of pursuit would feel full and peaceful. One day I heard this of God’s words, “A Created Being Should Be at the Mercy of God.” I was really moved by it. The second passage mentioning Peter’s experience was particularly moving for me.
2 In the past, Peter was crucified upside down for the sake of God; but you should satisfy God in the end, and exhaust all your energy for His sake. What can a created being do on behalf of God? You should therefore give yourself up to God, sooner rather than later, for Him to dispose of you as He wishes. As long as it makes God happy and pleased, then let Him do as He will with you. What right do men have to speak words of complaint? What right do men have to speak words of complaint?
—Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs
I listened to it over and over again, and just couldn’t get enough of it. Every single line of it was inspiring and moving for me, and I couldn’t keep my tears from rolling down. I was a creature who’d been corrupted by Satan and had lived to such an advanced age, and I still had the chance to follow God and experience His work, to bear witness to God and live for Him. That was such a great blessing! Eating and drinking God’s words, knowing my own corruption, changing my selfish and vile motives for blessings was already God’s blessing. I’d praise God until the very end even if He didn’t give me anything. My life would be worth it! I want to seek to be a reasonable, submissive creature of God. No matter what my health is or what my outcome is, I want to submit to God’s arrangements.