Where Does This Voice Come From?
By Shiyin, China
I was born in a Christian family, and I have many relatives who are preachers. From the time I was young, I followed my parents in believing in the Lord. After I grew up, I addressed to the Lord in prayer: If I could find a husband who believed in the Lord, I would offer myself up together with him in service to the Lord. After I got married, my husband really did believe in the Lord, and in fact became a full-time devoted preacher. In order for my husband to feel at ease in his work for the sake of the Lord, and to be able to fulfill his commitment in the presence of the Lord, I actively undertook the burdens of running a household. Although it was a little bit difficult and tiring, my heart was filled with joy and peace no matter how much suffering I endured because I had the Lord as my support.
After 1997, I discovered that my husband no longer had as much light as he used to have in his preaching. When I got him to do some housework, he would always make excuses about being busy with his preaching work. Even if he did do some housework, his heart just wasn’t in it, and he would often lose his temper with me over trivial things. Although on the outside I kept my patience and I didn’t argue with him, in my heart I really felt dissatisfied with my husband’s ways. The difficult burdens of household life and the darkness of my spirit caused me to live in agony. All I could do was come into the presence of God and pray in the dead of night when everyone was asleep, and ask the Lord to give me more faith and strength. At the same time, I yearned for the Lord to return quickly and save me from the miserable life.
One day in April of 2000, when I was arranging the clothes, I found my husband’s bag. I noticed that it was bulging, so I pulled open the zipper out of curiosity and saw that there was a Bible and a book of hymn inside. There was also a new book which was bound in an outer cover. I thought to myself: “How have I never seen this book before? It has to be some kind of reference book for preaching, or a book containing the experiences of some spiritual person. I have to read it, and maybe I can gain provision from it.” Led along by my curiosity, I saw a title which read, “Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement.” “What a fresh and uncommon title!” I thought, “Judging by the title, refinement is not a bad thing! I am now in a state of refinement that is beyond my abilities, so I have to read carefully how he experiences refinement and thus I can find the path of practice from within that.” At that, I began to read: “It used to be that people would all make their resolutions in front of God and say: ‘No matter who doesn’t love God, I must love Him.’ But now, you are faced with refinement. It is not in line with your notions, so you lose faith in God. Is this genuine love? You have read many times about the deeds of Job—have you forgotten about them? … When you face sufferings you must be able to not consider the flesh and not complain against God. When God hides Himself from you, you must be able to have the faith to follow Him, to maintain your previous love without allowing it to falter or disappear. No matter what God does, you must submit to His design, and be more willing to curse your own flesh than to complain against Him. When you are faced with trials you must satisfy God in spite of any reluctance to part with something you love, or bitter weeping. Only this can be called true love and faith. No matter what your actual stature is, you must first possess the will to suffer hardship as well as true faith, and you must have the will to forsake the flesh. You should be willing to personally endure hardships and suffer losses to your personal interests in order to satisfy God’s will. You must also have a heart of regretting yourself, that you weren’t able to satisfy God in the past, and be able to regret yourself now. Not a single one of these can be lacking and God will perfect you through these things. If you lack these conditions, you cannot be perfected.” These words really touched my heart. I was reading and crying at the same time, as the words were saying exactly my real circumstances. Before, I had resolved to dedicate myself and my husband to the Lord. I would be completely content to undertake all the burdens of running a household in order to support my husband in the work he was doing for the Lord outside, no matter how painful or exhausting it was. Now, however, because of difficulties at home and my husband’s lack of consideration, I always felt that I have been especially wronged, living in a state of undergoing refinement, and losing the faith and love I had once had. I was unable to maintain the resolution I had made in the presence of God, and would often cry alone in secret. I thought about how Job was able to stand witness to God in the midst of such a great and arduous trial, and not lose faith in God, and had even said, “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21). How could I have forgotten that? I then felt deeply regretful about all that I had done in the presence of God: Job would rather suffer hardships and lose out on his interests and yet still want to satisfy God. I had believed in the Lord for so many years, but had lost faith in the Lord. I complained to the Lord while enduring refinement, and where did I express any love for the Lord at all? With this in mind, I secretly made the inward determination, that I could no longer be as I had been before, that I should support my husband in the work he was doing for the Lord, and that it was right for me to suffer a bit of hardship.
When I was thinking like this, all of a sudden I felt much better emotionally. I felt these words were very well spoken, and were able to get to the heart of my actual circumstances. I felt they were able to point out the path of practice to me and cause faith and strength to unconsciously arise within me. I thought to myself: “Who was it who said these words? How was his knowledge so lofty? I have read some books written by well-known spiritual people, and although those books have been of benefit to some people, they were not written in as clear and elucidating a way as this book, nor did they possess truth. Really, who was it who spoke these words?” I was drawn by this book to continue reading on, and the more I read the more I felt that these words were spoken so well. Each and every line spoke directly to my inmost heart. From these words I understood that no matter how great one’s suffering is, he must follow God to the very end. In the face of suffering, one must willingly submit to God. If one becomes weak in the face of trial, he should have faith, and rely on God to stand firm. The more I read, the more I felt illuminated in my heart and the more I had a way to put into practice. It was right then that my husband came home, and I asked him right away, “Where did you get this book?” My husband smiled and said, “I borrowed it from somebody, and I have to give it back to him soon.” I said, “I also want to read this book.” My husband said, smiling, “Then pray! God may make it so.”
One day, when I was cooking, I was listening off and on to some hymn my husband was playing, “Who is not adoring? Who doesn’t long to see God? … God once shared joys and sorrows with man, and today He has been reunited with mankind, and shares tales of times gone by with him. After He walked out of Judea, people could find no trace of Him. They yearn to once more meet with God, little knowing that today they have again met with Him, and been reunited with Him. How could this not stir thoughts of yesterday? Two thousand years ago today, Simon Bar-Jonah, the descendant of the Jews, beheld Jesus the Savior, he ate at the same table as Him, and after following Him for many years felt a deeper affection for Him: He loved Him to the bottom of his heart, he loved the Lord Jesus profoundly. God has been reunited with mankind, and shares tales of times gone by with him today” (“Two Thousand Years of Longing” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). The lyrics of this hymn gave voice to my own thoughts and evoked my feeling of longing for the return of the Lord. I wept as I listened, and thought to myself: “Ever since I first believed in the Lord, I have thought of the Lord Jesus every day, and hoped that He might return more quickly so that I could share tales of times gone by with Him. These lyrics were so genuine and moving, and even more were able to express people’s longing for the Lord.” I then put down what I was working on and listened with full attention, hearing another hymn called “A Loyal Heart for God”: “I ask for nothing in my life but that my thoughts of love for God and my heart’s desire be accepted by God. …” I thought, “Who wrote this hymn? How can his resolution be so great? This hymn is greatly motivating for me, and how pure is the heart that loves God as it says in the line, ‘I ask for nothing in my life but that my thoughts of love for God and my heart’s desire be accepted by God.’ Before, when I believed in the Lord, I did not know to love the Lord, and just wanted to enjoy the grace, peace and joy from the Lord. Today, this hymn greatly opened my worldview, and I saw the people who believe in God must love God, and they must not seek anything for themselves and only this kind of love can be pure. This hymn is well expressed.” I then secretly resolved in my heart that I too wanted to pursue this goal, and that I would love the Lord no matter who didn’t love Him.
After reading the words in that book, as well as hearing those hymns, I then went to act in accord with those words. When my husband went out to work again and had no time to help with the housework, my heart wasn’t as distressed as it had been before. If the brothers and sisters had any flaws or mistakes in what they said, I could also forgive them for it, because I wanted to make God content. I wanted only to seek a heart that loves God like the hymn had sung about.
In the blink of an eye, the time for planting the fields had come. One evening, my husband was tidying up and said to me, “Tomorrow, I will head out to work in a church in another area.” I said immediately, “Will you be able to come back after a few days?” He said, “I don’t know. I’ll try my best to come back earlier, so you don’t have to worry about the housework.” When I heard what he said, my face darkened, and I thought, “You say don’t worry about it, but how can I not worry? You’re going off without any idea of when you’ll be back, and the fields in other people’s houses have already been sown. Our field has not yet even been plowed, and if the seeds are planted late, in fall there won’t be a good harvest. When that time comes, what will we do? If only my husband would finish sowing his field and then go off to assist the brothers and sisters!” In the evening of that same day, I lay in my bed unable to sleep wracked by great turmoil in my heart: The last time my husband traveled for more than half a month before coming back, but then it hadn’t been the season for farm work. Now, the crucial time for farm work has arrived, and if he is gone for another half a month, what will I do? I might just have to get him to go find his co-worker to do the work and be done with it. But I thought about it again: “That won’t do, as the brothers and sisters are waiting for him to go assist them. If he doesn’t go, won’t that be an offense against the Lord?” In the state of being refined, I came into the presence of God and prayed: “Lord! It isn’t that I am unwilling for my husband to go and assist the brothers and sisters, just that it’s the right time when our household should be working the fields. In my heart, I am enduring quite an intense refining indeed, and I don’t know what to do. Lord! I ask for Your help, to safeguard my heart and not let me be disturbed by these things.” After I prayed, these words occurred very clearly to me in my mind: “No matter what your actual stature is, you must first possess the will to suffer hardship as well as true faith, and you must have the will to forsake the flesh. You should be willing to personally endure hardships and suffer losses to your personal interests in order to satisfy God’s will” (“Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). These words instantly took hold of my heart, and brought a clarifying light to it: That’s right! If someone wants to satisfy the Lord, he must have the resolution to endure hardship and should rather suffer physically and endure losses in his interests in order to satisfy the will of God! These words gave me faith, and I thought: If the fields are planted a bit late, then so be it! However much we harvest is up to God, and the most important thing is my husband working for the Lord’s sake. With this in mind, I felt light and liberated in my heart, and before I knew it I had fallen asleep. On the morning of the next day, I said to my husband: “Be at ease and go work in the service of the Lord! Whenever you come back, it doesn’t matter. I submit to God’s arrangement.” When I thought about what I was doing was satisfying the Lord, I felt joy and steadiness in my heart.
My husband came back after a few days, and I found that he seemed to have changed into another person. He helped me with the housework, and said to me: “You’re working too hard! These last few years have been difficult enough for you, doing everything both inside and outside of the house. I’m aware of this. Before, I would often go out to work, not helping share the burdens of housework with you. In the future, I will do more when I have time.” Hearing his words, I was very moved because my husband had never spoken like this before. I thought to myself: “Ever since my husband read that book, there has been a big transformation in him. Not only does he preach with great light, but his attitude toward me is different than it had been before. Reading the Bible hadn’t resulted in any such changes in him in the past, but after reading that book he had transformed so much in such a short time. It seems the words in that book really have the power to change people!” At the same time I sensed that the words in this book had been of great benefit to me. After reading it, I had faith and strength, and when I acted in accord with the words in that book, the dissatisfaction I felt with my husband went away. After my husband read this book, his attitude toward me also changed, and he understood how to be considerate of me and take care of me. All these changes made me even more think that the words in that book were really powerful and authoritative! But really, who was it who had written the words in this book? I had never found the answer to this.
One day, two months later, my husband said he wanted to take me with him to attend a gathering. I had a feeling that this gathering would be something very special, otherwise my husband wouldn’t take me with him to listen to it. I was filled with anticipation in my heart, and looked forward to seeing that book again. The following day, my husband and I, together with two sisters, were sitting happily in a vehicle on the way to a sister’s house. There were many brothers and sisters taking part in that gathering, among them a sister in her thirties who integrated the Bible and fellowshiped about many truths about God’s work in the last days to us. When I was listening to what the sister fellowshiped about, I felt a special kind of brightness in my heart, and I came to thoroughly understand many passages of the Bible and about God returning to do the work of judgment that I hadn’t understood before. I thought to myself, “How can she fellowship about this so well, and communicate the Bible so clearly? How does she have so much understanding?” Then, the sister, her face filled with a smile, said loudly to us, “I’ll tell brothers and sisters an excellent piece of information that will excite people’s hearts. The Lord Jesus for whom we have long yearned has returned incarnate among us to do His new work, to express the word and open up all the truths and mysteries, to lay bare the three stages of God’s work and His six-thousand-year management plan, as well as the incarnation of God and the mysteries of the Bible. Today, the content of what I fellowship about all comes from the words that have been expressed by God.” The brothers and sisters and I who were sitting heard this great news, and finally understood why the sister had understood so much. It turns out it had all been told to people by the voice of the Lord who had returned. Now we too heard the voice of the Lord, and we all happily embraced each other, shed tears of excitement, and the whole place began to quiver with enthusiasm. I was so happy that I felt like jumping for joy, and thought: All along I have been hoping for the Lord Jesus to return a bit earlier. Now the Lord really has returned! While I am alive, I am able to welcome the Lord Jesus’s return, and for that I am truly blessed!
Soon, when the time came for us to disperse, the sisters gave each of us a book called Judgment Begins With the House of God. Holding onto the book of the word of God, I suddenly thought of that book from before. Could it be that it is this book? When I got back home, I impatiently asked my husband, “The book that I saw that day—is it the same word of God that the sister mentioned today?” My husband smiled and said, “It is.” At that time, it was like I was waking up from a dream. That voice comes from God after all, is the voice of the returned Lord Jesus, and is the voice of God! No wonder these words could be so moving to me, give me faith and strength, change my corrupt disposition, and take me out of suffering. Then, I blamed my husband, saying, “You have received the new work of God; why did you conceal it from me?” My husband said, “At the time I really wanted to tell you, but most of the people in your family are preachers in the church, and I was afraid that you might not understand when I explained it. I was afraid that your relatives would find out about it, and once they came out to disturb and hinder you, not only would this cause you to lose your opportunity to receive salvation, but also it would have made me become an evildoer!” Hearing what my husband said, my misunderstanding of my husband vanished, and I was all the more thankful to God for saving me. I resolved to read this book well.
Through reading the word of Almighty God, my parched spirit obtained nourishment and sustenance…. I never thought that I would be able to hear the word of the returned Lord with my own ears, to be raised up into the presence of God, to meet face-to-face with God, and I felt especially grateful to God for His love and salvation. After over 10 days, my husband and I cooperated together with the sisters who spread the gospel, and took the brothers and sisters of our church who had true faith in the Lord over to Almighty God. All honor and glory be unto God!