What’s Keeping Me From Following God?
By Chen Ming, China
It was December of 2011, and the two of our church leaders had been arrested. After hearing this news, my brothers and sisters and I had to quickly deal with the aftermath. A few days later I received a letter that said some brothers and sisters from other churches were continually being arrested by the police, and that there had been a suspicious person outside my door, so I, too, might be under surveillance. The letter said I shouldn’t go home, and instead should head to a safe place and handle the church work from there. I felt very anxious after reading the letter. I thought about the police cars constantly patrolling the streets in the last few days, as well as the ubiquitous surveillance. Had they found out I was a church deacon? Were they staking out my home to detain me? I thought of all the brothers and sisters who had been caught, some beaten until they were crippled, some beaten to death. These days, I was doing the church’s work, which always had me running around out there. If I were tailed and caught by the police, what would I do? The more I thought about it, the more scared I felt. If I really were beaten to death, how would I gain salvation and eternal life? It felt as though a large stone were pressing on my heart. I even found it hard to breathe. Later on, I went to stay at a relative’s house for a few days. My husband found me and said, “It’s not safe here, either. You’d better go and hide at a friend’s house in another province. The police know you are a deacon at the church. Why would they let you off?” I was hesitant after hearing my husband, especially because our church leaders had already been arrested. There was still a lot of work that urgently needed doing, though, so if I left then, there would be no one to carry on the church’s work. However, if I didn’t leave and got arrested by the police, I’d be tortured to death or end up a cripple. So, I decided it was best to go away and hide for a few days, and then come back to continue to do my duty once things had calmed down. I therefore abandoned my duty and went to a friend’s house in another province. Actually, it was in this crucial moment that I abandoned my duty. This was an act of betraying God! But at the time I was only thinking about my own safety, and had no faith at all. I also had no understanding of the nature of what I’d done.
Later on, afraid that I could drag her into it, my friend arranged for me to stay in a dilapidated house outside her village. It was so run-down the door wouldn’t even close, and there was nothing to eat and no running water. Faced with such an environment, I felt very unhappy. It was then that I began to reflect. Had I been right to abandon my duty to hide out in another province? Then, I saw these words of God: “At present, there are some who carry no burdens for the church. These people are slack and sloppy, and only care about their own flesh. Such people are extremely selfish, and they are also blind. If you cannot see this matter clearly, you will not carry any burden. The more mindful you are of God’s will, the greater the burden He will entrust to you. The selfish are unwilling to suffer such things; they are unwilling to pay the price, and, as a result, they will miss opportunities to be perfected by God. Are they not doing themselves harm?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Be Mindful of God’s Will in Order to Attain Perfection). Upon reading God’s words, I felt a prick in my heart; I saw that I myself had been that sort of selfish and base person exposed by God. Our church leaders had been arrested, and the aftermath had needed to be dealt with promptly. In that crucial moment, I should have depended on God and carried on with doing the church’s work, safeguarding my brothers and sisters. However, I had only thought about my own safety and become a coward, hiding myself away, abandoning the church’s work, and caring nothing for the lives of my brothers and sisters. This was a serious betrayal of God! At this time, I recalled some lines from a hymn of God’s words: “Abraham offered up Isaac—what have you offered up? Job offered up everything—what have you offered up? So many people have given their lives, laid down their heads, shed their blood in order to seek the true way. Have you paid that price?” (Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs, What Have You Dedicated to God?). Indeed, what had I offered up for God? Abraham had been able to sacrifice his son to satisfy God; Job had given everything to satisfy Him. And I? Scared of being caught and tortured to death, I had run away for my own safety. Hadn’t I been like a deserter, cravenly clinging to life instead of braving death? As the saying goes, “Extensive preparation eventually pays off.” As a church deacon, nurtured by God’s house for many years, in this most crucial moment, I had given no thought to what I had been entrusted with, nor thought about how to maintain the church’s work. I had only thought of myself, treasuring my own existence, and running away from danger. Was I still worthy of being called a human? I truly had bitten the hand that fed me, and was not even as good as an animal!
After that, I read another section of God’s word, “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?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Interpretations of the Mysteries of God’s Words to the Entire Universe, Chapter 41). I felt very encouraged by these words of God, and also felt to blame. I thought of how Peter had escaped from jail, and how the Lord Jesus had appeared before him and said He would be crucified again for his sake. The Lord’s words made Peter understand: “The Lord Jesus has already been crucified once to redeem mankind, I can’t let Him be crucified again. He gave up His life for our sake; this time, I should give up my life for His.” Peter therefore returned to jail without hesitation, and in the end, asked to be crucified upside down for God’s sake. Peter had been able to give up his life for God, but what about me? In the face of a slightly dangerous environment, I had abandoned my commission and run away to a faraway place. How could I be said to have had even an ounce of conscience? I had followed God for so many years and been provided with so many of His words, yet I’d betrayed God at a crucial time. I wasn’t fit to be alive in front of God. I knelt down and repented in prayer before God, saying, “God! I did wrong. I abandoned my duty for the sake of my own safety. I’ve been so selfish and base! I don’t want to consider my own interests anymore. I want to learn from Peter, and complete what You entrust me to do even if it means death.” After that, I returned to the church. When one of the sisters saw me, she said, “Today, we’ve received the latest sermons from God. I didn’t know whom to contact in order to send them to our brothers and sisters. Just as I was getting anxious, you’ve come back.” Hearing the sister say this, I felt so glad for coming back in time. I hadn’t caused too many losses to the church’s work. I quickly discussed with the sister arrangements for suitable personnel, so as to send them to the brothers and sisters in a timely way. From then on I wasn’t as cowardly as I had been when I did my duty.
After undergoing that environment, I thought I’d gained some faith, but to my surprise, I encountered another situation and was exposed again. One day, my co-worker Sister Zhou said to me, “Several houses where church’s money is being kept are in danger.” She then allocated me the task of transferring the money to a safer place. Thinking of the police cars patrolling everywhere, I was a bit scared, worried that the houses might be being watched by the police. What if I got tailed and arrested while moving the church’s money? I couldn’t help thinking, “I am a church deacon; if I get caught, I’m sure to be tortured. And then the chances of my getting out alive would be nil. And then, how could I attain salvation and get into the kingdom of heaven?” Thinking about this over and over, I just wanted to cower. I felt that performing this duty would just be too dangerous. Right at that moment, I recalled my previous experience. Because I had been too selfish and base, only acting for my own safety, I almost delayed the work of God’s house. I warned myself not to take that same path of failure as before. Instead, I would depend on God, and complete this important duty. Thinking like this, I didn’t feel so anxious anymore. At this time, I often wondered, “Why, at such critical moments, am I always so scared of being arrested and tortured to death?” Later, I read this section of God’s words: “Starting today, I will let all people begin to know Me—the only true God, who created everything, who came among humans and was rejected and slandered by them, and who controls and arranges everything in its entirety; the King who is in charge of the kingdom; the God Himself who manages the cosmos; and, moreover, the God who controls the life and death of humans and who holds the key of Hades. I will let all humans (adults and children, whether they have spirits or not, and whether or not they are fools or have disabilities, etc.) know Me. I will not excuse anyone from this task; it is the most severe work, a task that I have well prepared and one that is being carried out, beginning right now. What I say shall be done. Open up your spiritual eyes, drop your individual notions, and recognize that I am the only true God who administers the universe! I am hidden from no one, and I carry out My administrative decrees upon everyone” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 72). Upon reading these words of God, I felt very ashamed. Almighty God holds sovereignty over the entire universe and controls the fate of mankind; people’s lives and deaths are in His hands, and all subject to His arrangements. Still, I hadn’t had any understanding of God’s almightiness and sovereignty. When performing my duty, I had only thought of my own life. I had been really scared of falling into the hands of the police and being tortured to death. I didn’t even possess a tiny bit of genuine faith in God. I was so utterly small in stature. I was a person who cravenly clung to life, who always wanted to run away when faced with a dangerous duty. As such, if I really were arrested and tortured, I surely would betray God, thus becoming a Judas, and in the end I’d be sent to hell as punishment. This realization had me feeling very scared indeed.
Later, I came across another section of God’s words: “When people are ready to sacrifice their lives, everything becomes trifling, and no one can get the better of them. What could be more important than life? Thus, Satan becomes incapable of doing any more in people, there is nothing it can do with man. Although, in the definition of the ‘flesh’ it is said that the flesh is corrupted by Satan, if people truly give themselves over, and are not driven by Satan, then no one can get the better of them” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Interpretations of the Mysteries of God’s Words to the Entire Universe, Chapter 36). These words of God helped me recognize that my Achilles’ heel had always been my fear of death. Satan used the weakness of my flesh to attack me, causing me to betray God, which would lead me to being destroyed along with Satan itself. Satan is so absolutely despicable and evil! My life and death are under God’s sovereignty and determined by Him. No matter how savage Satan is, without God’s permission, it wouldn’t dare do anything to me. I must give my life and death over to God, and submit to His orchestration; even if I get tortured to death by the CCP, I still need to stand testimony for God and glorify Him. It was then that I knelt down and prayed to God, saying, “God, I am willing to hand my life over to You, and allow You to orchestrate whether I live or die. Please inspect my heart.”
In that moment, I thought of some more words God had uttered: “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. God Presides Over the Fate of All Mankind). From God’s words it is evident that created beings dying to complete the tasks entrusted by God is the most meaningful thing. Thinking of the disciples and apostles who followed the Lord Jesus back then, many had been martyred while spreading the gospel, but their deaths are remembered by God. They may be dead in the flesh, but their spirits live on. If we become a Judas and betray God because we are scared of death, and then He punishes us and we die, that is a real sort of death; we will go to hell. And that is eternal suffering. The Lord Jesus said, “For whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25). In this harsh environment, in which the CCP is so wantonly oppressing and arresting people, God saw my attitude; He was looking at whether I would risk death to satisfy Him and bear witness before Satan. If I abandon my duty and betray God because I’m afraid of dying, then I’m but a dead woman walking. Realizing this, I prayed to God, proclaiming that I was willing to betray the flesh and rely on Him to fulfill my duty. While I was transferring the church’s money, I quietly sang a hymn of God’s words: “You are a created being—you should of course worship God and pursue a life of meaning. Since you are a human being, you should expend yourself for God and endure all suffering! You should gladly and assuredly accept the little suffering you are subjected to today and live a meaningful life, like Job and Peter. You are people who pursue the right path, those who seek improvement. You are people who rise up in the nation of the great red dragon, those whom God calls righteous. Is that not the most meaningful life?” (Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs, The Most Meaningful Life). The more I sang this song, the more I appreciated it. As a created being, being able to do one’s duty is the most valuable of things. This way of living is a meaningful life. It is one that is praised by God. By then, I no longer felt cowardly and afraid, and was able to transfer the church’s money without mishap. Deep down, I now felt completely calm and comforted. After that, with God’s guidance, I safely transferred the property and books of His house on multiple occasions.
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