If I Were Not Saved by God (Audio Essay)
Ling Wu, Japan
“If I were not saved by God, I would still be drifting in this world,
struggling hard and painfully in sin, every day bleak and hopeless.
If I were not saved by God, I’d still be crushed below the devil’s feet,
snared in sin and its enjoyments, ignorant of what my life would be.
It’s Almighty God who saves me; all God’s words have purified my heart.
Through God’s judgment and His chastisement, my corrupted disposition’s changed.
All the word and truth God expresses, it has all given me new life.
I have seen my God face to face and have tasted God’s true love.
Finally I’ve understood God’s loving hand holds mine as we go.
Now I have heard the voice of God and been raised before God’s throne.
The feast of my Christ I attend, to be perfected and purified by Him.
What I’d hoped for is finally realized, I have now been saved by God.”
(“If I Were Not Saved by God” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). Whenever I hear this hymn of experience, I am always deeply moved. If it weren’t for God saving me, as described in the hymn, I might still be wandering aimlessly in the world, tiring myself out chasing after money, even to the point that I would long since have lost my life and died abroad in a foreign land …
I’m a child of the eighties, and was born in an ordinary farmer household. My older brother was always unwell and sick since he was little. My father was wounded in an accident when I was 10; he was paralyzed two years after that. Our family’s financial situation was poor to begin with, and we went heavily into debt treating my father. Our friends and relatives were afraid that we would never be able to pay back the debt, and weren’t willing to loan us money. Helpless, I was forced to drop out of school at 16 to work away from home. In deep and quiet night, I would often think: When they were young, children the same age as me would play freely after school, while I would have to be in fields doing farming work; now they have grown up as me, and they are still going to school, acting like spoiled children with their parents, but I have to start working at an early age and suffer all kinds of hardships to support my family. … At that time, I complained to my parents about why they gave birth to me, and asked why it was that I came into this world just to suffer and toil. But there was nothing I could do about it, and I could only accept this reality. At the time, my greatest wish was to work hard, earn money, and allow my parents to live comfortably, and no longer be looked down on by others.
At first I worked in a private aluminum alloy factory. Since I was a child laborer, the boss always took good care of me with my food and housing. After one year, I felt that my wages were too low, and chose to go do the lacquer spraying work in a furniture factory that other people didn’t want to do. At that time, no matter what kind of work I was doing, as long as I didn’t break the law, I would go do it if I could make more money. My only goal was that I wanted to become a person with money, so I wouldn’t have to live the life of a poor person again. After that, my relatives introduced me to a company that offered me the opportunity to leave the country for work. I had never thought that after a few years I would go abroad.
In the Spring of 2012, I had my wish granted when I came to Japan and began my new life. I was involved in the shipbuilding industry, and through an apprenticeship I signed a three-year contract with the company. When I started work, I was exhausted and suffering. Because I didn’t know how to cook, I ate instant noodles for a month, until I couldn’t eat them with the feeling like I was going to throw up and was forced to learn to cook. I have no idea how many days I ate half-cooked rice. In Japan, we were foreigners, so it was hard for the company’s workers to keep from having an unfair treatment toward us. They made us do a lot of dirty, tiring, and dangerous tasks. When I was spraying lacquer, I was rather scared, because if the gas came into contact with fire it would ignite, and if I stopped paying attention for a moment it could endanger my life. But no matter if it was suffering in my life or danger in my work, as long as I thought of making more money to send back to my family, and being able to buy a car and a house after I returned home and elevate myself over others and no longer be poor, I felt that my suffering at the time actually wasn’t too bad. Three years of my life passed in the blink of an eye working there, and the time period on my visa was almost up. The company had a policy of renewing contracts, so in order to make more money, I chose to renew my contract and continue to work in Japan. What pleasantly surprised me was that not long after I renewed my contract, I encountered the gospel of the kingdom of Almighty God.
In September of 2015, a friend I had met in Japan told me about God’s work in the last days. When she was telling me about believing in God, I thought this was just a kind of belief, and didn’t think it was interesting. I felt that believing in God wouldn’t be able to change my destiny. Soon after that, I told my friend about my own way of thinking and the hardships I had endured, then asked her, “Can believing in God change my destiny? I’ve suffered so much, I’m just an ill-fated person. If I had money I wouldn’t be suffering, and right now the most real thing for me is to make money. For me, believing in God is something remote.” When my friend heard me speaking like this, she read to me a section of the word of God: “Where you will go every day, what you will do, who or what you will encounter, what you will say, what will happen to you—can any of this be predicted? People cannot foresee all these occurrences, much less control how they develop. In life, these unforeseeable events happen all the time, and they are an everyday occurrence. These daily vicissitudes and the ways they unfold, or the patterns by which they play out, are constant reminders to humanity that nothing happens at random, that these things’ ramifications, and their inevitability, cannot be shifted by human will. Every happening conveys an admonition from the Creator to mankind, and it also sends the message that human beings cannot control their own fates; at the same time every event is a rebuttal to humanity’s wild, futile ambition and desire to take its fate into its own hands. They are like powerful slaps about humanity’s ears one after another, forcing people to reconsider who, in the end, governs and controls their fate. And as their ambitions and desires are repeatedly thwarted and shattered, humans naturally arrive at an unconscious acceptance of what fate has in store, an acceptance of reality, of the will of Heaven and the Creator’s sovereignty. From these daily vicissitudes to the fates of entire human lives, there is nothing that does not reveal the Creator’s plans and His sovereignty; there is nothing that does not send the message that ‘the Creator’s authority cannot be exceeded,’ that does not convey the eternal truth that ‘the Creator’s authority is supreme’” (“God Himself, the Unique III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After hearing this, I felt that these words made a lot of sense, and I couldn’t help but think that being able to renew my contract also seemed like something that had been arranged by God. It also made me think about the home I was born into and my life with my family were things I had no choice about. I had the feeling that somewhere out there is a Sovereign in control.
My friend also had me read this section of the word of God “‘God Himself, the Unique III’ in The Word Appears in the Flesh” which talks about six junctures that a person must pass through in life: Birth: The First Juncture; Growing Up: The Second Juncture; Independence: The Third Juncture; Marriage: The Fourth Juncture; Progeny: The Fifth Juncture; Death: The Sixth Juncture. When I had read the word of God, I was amazed. I had never imagined that God had spoken so clearly about man’s destiny, and the facts are indeed as He described. According to ordinary circumstances, a person will experience these six junctures in his life. I thought of how many people there are on earth suffering, and how it wasn’t just me. If destiny were really up to a person’s choice and he were in control of it, then everyone would choose to live in a big, fancy house, and would there be anyone suffering from poverty and hardship? In fact, the family a person is born into is absolutely not up to them to choose, and they can’t choose what kind of parents they have. After they grow up, the kind of husband or wife they have is also not up to them. … The more I pondered them, the more I felt these words were practical, and I then began in my heart to believe what Almighty God had said. Fate is not something that can be changed by oneself. Since then, I began to get more and more interested in believing in God, and I believed that God exists, and believed that a person’s fate is not under his own control. But because I didn’t know much about God, I felt that God was very remote from me. However, in an experience not long after that, I genuinely felt: God is beside me, watching over and protecting me.
It was raining that day, and I got to work as usual, but I had absolutely no idea that there was a disaster sneaking up to strike me. Over 10:00 in the morning, I was at work on the jobsite, when I suddenly heard a “boom.” I didn’t know what it was that had smashed to the ground, and it gave me an icy shudder of terror. When I turned my head to look, I was stunned, and saw a 40 cm diameter and 4 m long iron pipe weighing about half a ton which had fallen from a crane. It smashed to the ground less than half a meter from where I was standing. I was so terrified in that moment that I was totally speechless, and it took a while for me to regain my composure from the shock. In my heart I was yelling nonstop: “Thank You God! Thank You God!” If God hadn’t been there watching over and protecting me, then the iron pipe would have smashed straight down onto me, and my insignificant life would have been over.
After I got off work, when I was talking with the brothers and sisters about what had happened that day, they fellowshiped to me that it had been God’s protection. They also read to me from the word of Almighty God: “Throughout your long lives, basically every individual has encountered many dangerous situations and undergone many temptations. This is because Satan is right there beside you, its eyes fixed on you constantly. It likes it when disaster strikes you, when calamities befall you, when nothing goes right for you, and likes it when you are caught in Satan’s net. As for God, He is protecting you constantly, keeping you from one misfortune after another and from one disaster after another. This is why I say that everything man has—peace and joy, blessings and personal safety—is in fact all under God’s control, and He guides and decides the life and fate of every individual” (“God Himself, the Unique VI” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After reading the word of God I understood that people live every day in Satan’s net and that they are cruelly harmed. Without God watching over and guarding them, people would have long since been swallowed up by Satan. All these years, I don’t know how many times I enjoyed God watching over and protecting me, but all along I did not know God or worship Him; I truly had no conscience. Starting from that moment, I understood God’s grace of salvation better. That I was able to live up to the present is all thanks to God’s loving hand guarding me, and I thanked God from my heart. I also decided that in the future I would do all I can to follow God. In the days to come, I frequently attended gatherings with brothers and sisters, and went over into leading a regular church life, and there were slowly changes in my life. I no longer had the anxiety, suffering, and emptiness that I once had. We brothers and sisters were reading the word of God together, and fellowshiping about the word of God, singing hymns in praise of God, free and liberated in our hearts, helping each other and assisting one another in the spiritual life. Not one of them looked down on me, nor was there anyone who had disdain for the poor and fawned over the rich, and I felt I was able to live with dignity. Living among this big, warm, and blessed household of The Church of Almighty God, I felt much happier and fulfilled than in the past.
One day, something happened to a Japanese individual in our company. He was a longtime employee there and already had more than ten years of experience in the company. He was strong whether it was safety awareness or technology. That day, when he was at work, he was driving a lifting truck and was doing some work while lifted 20 meters in the air. In the course of operating it, from lack of attention he caused the truck’s liquified gas to leak onto him. There was another worker at the same time above him doing some welding, and suddenly a spark fell down and landed on his clothing. When the gas that had leaked out came into contact with the spark, it rapidly burst into flame, and a fire broke out. Many people just stared blankly at this old worker who was being engulfed in flames on the spot, but they were totally helpless and unable to do anything. It was already too late to go find someone to save him, and in a few minutes, he was burned to death. When we saw this tragedy occur, many people felt sorry for him, and couldn’t help but think about our own lives: What is it, after all, that people are living for? Because of something like this happening right next to me, I truly realized that if a person has departed from God and doesn’t have God watching over and protecting them, then their life is unprotected at all times. People are so insignificant in the face of calamities and can easily collapse, and no matter how high a person’s expertise is or how much more money a person has they are unable to save themselves.
Afterward, I read a passage of the word of God: “Because of the Creator’s sovereignty and predestination, a lonely soul that started out with nothing to its name gains parents and a family, the chance to become a member of the human race, the chance to experience human life and see the world; and it also gains the chance to experience the Creator’s sovereignty, to know the marvelousness of the creation by the Creator, and most of all, to know and become subject to the Creator’s authority. But most people do not really seize this rare and fleeting opportunity. One exhausts a lifetime’s worth of energy fighting against fate, spends all of one’s time bustling about trying to feed one’s family and shuttling back and forth between wealth and status. The things that people treasure are family, money, and fame; they view these as the most valuable things in life. All people complain about their fates, yet still they push to the back of their minds the questions that it is most imperative to examine and understand: why man is alive, how man should live, what the value and meaning of life is. All of their lives, however many years that may be, they just rush about seeking fame and fortune, until their youth has fled, until they become gray and wrinkled; until they see that fame and fortune cannot stop one’s slide toward senility, that money cannot fill the emptiness of the heart; until they understand that no one is exempt from the law of birth, aging, sickness, and death, that no one can escape what fate has in store. Only when they are forced to confront life’s final juncture do they truly grasp that even if one owns millions in property, even if one is privileged and of high rank, no one can escape death, every person will return to his or her original position: a solitary soul, with nothing to its name” (“God Himself, the Unique III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After I finished reading the words of God, I was deeply stirred: People’s spirits come from God, and are destined by God to come among the world of men. But people still don’t want to believe in and worship God, and they don’t treasure the opportunity to experience the Creator’s authority, but only know to live for money, fame, and kinship. They are all busy rushing about strenuously trying to throw off the arrangement of their fate, but what can people obtain by seeking after these things? Has anyone ever thought which of these things—relatives, fame, or wealth—can save their lives when death is imminent? Look at my old coworker’s death—isn’t that the best demonstration of this fact? Thinking about the things I have sought in the past, isn’t it the same? When I went abroad to work, I would take on any filthy, tiring, or dangerous job, just to earn some more money, make people look highly upon me, and so I wouldn’t suffer the humiliation of poverty. Even though I went through every kind of suffering, I never thought to change this way of living. I just followed the same road all along. In my heart, I didn’t know if there is a God, nor did I know that man’s fate is in God’s hands. I relied on myself to change my destiny, and I strove to escape from God’s orchestration and arrangement destined in my life. Wasn’t it the road to ruin that I was following? If it weren’t for God’s salvation, or God watching over and protecting me, I’m afraid that my meager life would have long ago been snatched away by Satan. Even further, how could my life become fulfilled and meaningful as I am now? In that moment, I finally saw that the meaning of life isn’t to seek wealth or fame, it isn’t to seek to get ahead of others so they look highly upon you, but rather is to come into the presence of God, to worship God and receive His salvation, and to break free from Satan’s harm. The more I think like this, the more moved I am. I see that I am able to believe in God, and this is God treating me with a special grace. I don’t know how to express the feeling of gratitude toward God in my heart, and so I learned the hymn “If I Were Not Saved by God” to show my praise of God and to thank Almighty God for saving me!