By Zhao Xia
My name is Zhao Xia. I was born into an ordinary family. Due to the influence of dictums like “A man leaves his name behind wherever he stays, just as a goose utters its cry wherever it flies,” and “As a tree lives for its bark, a man lives for his face,” reputation and face became particularly important to me. Everything I did was to earn other people’s praise, compliments, and admiration. After getting married, the goals I set for myself were: I will have a more prosperous life than others; I must not allow anyone say negative things about how I treat the elderly or about my behavior and conduct; I will ensure my child gets into a well-known university and has good prospects in order to bring me more glory. Therefore, I never quarreled with my in-laws. Sometimes when they spoke harshly with me, I would feel so wronged that I would secretly cry rather than show them any kind of attitude. When I saw others buy clothing for their parents during Chinese New Year or other holidays, I would immediately go buy some for my mother-in-law, and only of the best quality. When relatives came to visit, I would help with the shopping and cooking. I was still entirely willing even when it was difficult or tiring. Out of fear that I would fall behind others, I left my baby daughter behind just a month after giving birth to her to go straight back to work. As a result, she suffered from malnutrition, becoming just skin and bones because I wasn’t nursing her. It wasn’t until she had received 100 injections of nutrients that she took a turn for the better, while I was so tired that my back was aching every single day. Though it was difficult and tiring, I endured the hardship and expended myself tirelessly for the sake of gaining a good reputation. My hard work paid off, and in just a few short years, I became well-known as a good daughter-in-law in the village, and my family became wealthy and were envied by those around us. As a result, my in-laws, neighbors, relatives and friends were all full of praise for me. In the face of the praise and compliments from those around me, my vanity was greatly satisfied. I felt that my hardships over the last few years were not in vain—I felt really self-satisfied. However, my serene life was disrupted after my brother-in-law got married. His wife always spoke to me mockingly, saying that I had ulterior motives in treating our mother-in-law well because I was only interested in her money. She always said that our mother-in-law was biased toward us since she gave us more things than she gave them; she was always stirring up trouble over this. I felt very wronged and wanted to hash it out with her openly in order to proclaim my innocence, but I was afraid that it would ruin the positive image that I had built up with others. So, I would force myself to hold back, and when I could bear it no longer I would cry it out in private. Later on my sister-in-law really overstepped her bounds by taking over the land that had been parceled out for my side of the family. I was shaking with anger and couldn’t eat or drink for days. I even wanted to fight it out with her. However, realizing that it would cause me to lose face, damage my reputation, and make those around me look down on me, I just swallowed it. However, I was so pent up that I was in torment. I moped around, sighing all the time, feeling that life was too painful and tiring, wondering when there would be an end to a life like that.
Man’s end really is God’s beginning. Just as I was in pain and feeling helpless,reached out to me with His hands of . One day, my neighbor asked me: “Do you believe that there is a God?” I answered: “Who doesn’t? I believe in God.” She went on to say that the God she believes in is the one and only true God who created the universe and all things, and that in the beginning, mankind lived within God’s blessings because they worshiped Him, but after being corrupted by Satan, they no longer worshiped God and thus came to live under God’s curse and in pain. She told me that Almighty God of the last days had come to bestow the truth upon people and to save them from the abyss of misery. She also shared fellowship on her own experiences in her faith. After hearing her fellowship, I felt that I had found my closest confidant, and could not help but spill out to her all the pain in my heart. Afterward, she read a passage of God’s words to me: “When you are weary and when you begin to feel the desolation of this world, do not be perplexed, do not cry. Almighty God, the Watcher, will embrace your arrival any time. He is watching by your side, waiting for you to turn back. He is waiting for the day your memory suddenly recovers: becoming conscious of the fact that you came from God, somehow and somewhere once lost, falling unconscious on the roadside, and then, unknowingly having a father. You further realize that the Almighty has been watching there, awaiting your return all along” (“The Sighing of the Almighty” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words flowed into my heart like a warm current, consoling my painful and sad heart, and I could not stop tears from rolling down my face. In that moment, I felt just like a wandering child in pain who had suddenly returned to the embrace of her mother. I had an indescribable feeling of excitement and emotion. I kept on giving thanks to God for taking me into His house and caring for me when I had nowhere else to go. I quietly resolved to follow God with my heart and soul. From then on, I began reading God’s words, praying to God, and singing hymns to every single day; I felt so relaxed and had such enjoyment in my heart. Through attending gatherings and interacting with brothers and sisters, I saw that they were just like a big family even though they were not related by blood. Their interactions were simple and open, without pretense, duplicity, jealousy, conflicts, or scheming. They did not bully the poor while favoring the rich, they were all able to treat everyone with sincerity and full equality, and we would share fellowship on God’s word and sing hymns in praise of God. I had a real sense of freedom in my heart. This is how I fell in love with this life of the church that is loving and warm, fair and joyous. I became convinced that Almighty God is the one true God who created the universe and all things, and I resolved that I would follow Him to the very end.
Through reading God’s words, I came to understand God’s urgent desire to save mankind to the greatest extent possible, and saw that many brothers and sisters were doing their utmost to give and expend themselves for the sake of spreading the salvation of us, but has continued to supply mankind’s needs in obscurity. God’s love is too great! His essence is too beautiful and kind! My hardships today are nothing compared to the suffering God has endured for the sake of saving mankind! I thought of the fact that I was also a victim, someone who had been harmed by Satan for years. If God had not stretched out His hands of salvation to me, I would still be struggling painfully in the dark, unable to see the light and the hope of living. Having enjoyed such great salvation from God, I should bear the humiliation and pain to do my utmost to cooperate with God, fulfill my duty properly, and bring the innocents who are still being harmed by Satan before God. This is more valuable and meaningful than any job in the world, and is worthwhile no matter how much suffering must be endured! Thinking of this, I no longer felt that preaching the gospel is a painful thing, and instead felt that I was fortunate to be able to offer up my meager abilities for the sake of spreading the gospel of the kingdom. This was my honor as well as an exaltation of God. I made this resolve: No matter what kind of hardships I have to encounter in my gospel work, I will give my all and rely on God to bring more and more people who yearn for the appearance of God before Him to comfort His heart! After that I threw myself back into gospel work.of the kingdom, so I also became actively involved in the preaching of the gospel. One time, I went to preach the gospel to a potential believer. It was a very busy time for farming at the time. Seeing how busy she was with farm work, I went to work alongside her while sharing of God’s work of the last days. I never imagined that after three days straight of sharing fellowship with her, she would not only have no intention of accepting the gospel, but would instead yell at me: “You really have some nerve! I already said I don’t believe but you won’t stop preaching.” Her words really struck a nerve with me. My face burned as though I had just had my face slapped in front of a crowd, while my heart ached with wave after wave of dull pain. I thought: “I came to preach to you with the best of intentions and exhausted myself helping you with your work until my back ached, but instead of accepting the gospel, you treated me like this. How heartless you are!” I felt extremely humiliated and did not want to talk to her anymore, but I also felt that giving up like that was not in line with God’s will, so I prayed silently in my heart and held back my grievances so that I could continue to share fellowship with her while helping with her work. But no matter how hard I tried, I still could not get through to her. I collapsed like a deflated balloon upon returning home. Her words kept cycling through my head. The more I thought about it the more pain I felt: “Why bother? All I get in return for my good intentions are jeers, slander, and abuse. This is so unjust! No one has ever treated me this way. Spreading the gospel is simply too painful and difficult! No, I cannot go out to preach the gospel any longer! If I continue preaching I won’t have any face left to see anyone.” Just when I felt so wronged and in such pain that I was no longer willing to preach the gospel, the words of God enlightened me: “Are you aware of the burden you shoulder, your commission, and your responsibility? Where is your historic sense of mission? … They are poor, pitiable, blind, and at a loss, wailing in the darkness, ‘Where is the way?’ How they yearn for the light, like a shooting star, to suddenly descend and disperse the force of darkness that has oppressed men for so many years. Who can know just how anxiously they hope, and how they pine day and night for this? These men who suffer deeply remain imprisoned in the dungeons of darkness, without hope of release, even on the day that the light flashes; when will they weep no longer? These fragile spirits who have never been granted rest are truly suffering such misfortune. They have long been sealed off by the ruthless ropes and the history that is frozen in place. Who has ever heard the sound of their wailing? Who has ever seen their miserable visage? Have you ever thought how grieved and anxious God’s heart is? How can He bear to see the innocent mankind He created with His own hands suffering such torment? After all, mankind are the unfortunates that have been poisoned. Though they have survived to this day, who would have thought that they have long been poisoned by the evil one? Have you forgotten that you are one of the victims? Out of your love for God, are you not willing to strive to save those who have survived? Are you not willing to use all your effort to repay the God who loves mankind like His own flesh and blood?” (“How Should You Attend to Your Future Mission” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Reading between the lines of God’s words, all that was revealed was His concern as well as His worry and care for innocent people. God cannot bear to see people created by His own hands deceived and harmed by Satan. God continues to bitterly await mankind to return to His house soon and receive the great salvation He has bestowed upon them. Yet when I was faced with a few harsh words from the person I was preaching to, I felt wronged and tormented and grumbled about the hardship and suffering. I even lost my willingness to preach the gospel because I had lost face. Where was my conscience and reason? I was not someone who was considerate of God’s will. In order to save us, corrupted humans in the last days, God has been continuously hunted and persecuted by the CCP government, abandoned, condemned, blasphemed and slandered by religious circles, and misunderstood and resisted by us followers of God. The pain and humiliation God has suffered is too much, too great! However, He has not abandoned His
Following a period of practicing this, whenever I encountered someone I hoped to convert who had a bad attitude or spoke harsh words to me while I was fulfilling my duty, I was able to deal with it properly and continue to bear witness to God’s work of the last days with a loving heart. Because of this, I felt that I had changed somewhat and no longer cared as much about my face and status. One day, the leader of the church asked me how I had been doing lately and also fellowshiped with me on God’s current will and way of practice. When I found out during the conversation that she would be transferred to another church to fulfill her duty, I could not help but feel a wave of excitement, thinking: “Maybe I’ll be made the leader of the church after she leaves. If so, I must really do well in my work!” Just as I was feeling secretly happy, she said that another sister from my village would be coming tomorrow. My heart churned as soon as I heard that. I thought: “What is she coming for? Is she going to be made the new leader of the church?” I could not help but grow anxious: “She has not believed in God for as long as I have, and she’s from the same village as me. If she is made leader, how will that impact my face? How would our brothers and sisters see me? They will surely say that I don’t pursue the truth as much as she does.” I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I tossed and turned at night, unable to fall asleep. During the gathering the next day, I honed in on the tone and attitude of everything the leader was saying, desperately wanting to know who would be chosen as the new leader of the church. Whenever the leader looked at me as she spoke, I felt there was some hope that I would be made leader. My face would fill with joy and I would nod and agree with whatever she said. However, whenever she faced the other sister while speaking, I would become certain that that sister would be named leader, and feel frustrated and in pain as a result. Over those couple of days, I was tormented by the concept of face and status to the point that I became anxious and distracted. I lost my appetite and even felt that time was passing particularly slowly, as though it had been frozen. The church leader saw what kind of state I was in, so she flipped through The Word Appears in the Flesh, and found two passages in God’s words “Why Aren’t You Willing to Be a Foil?” for me to read. God’s words say: “You are now followers, and you have some understanding of this stage of work. However, you have still not put aside your desire for status. When your status is high you seek well, but when your status is low you no longer seek. The blessings of status are always on your mind.” “Although you have gotten to this step today, you still have not let go of status, but are always struggling to inquire about it and observing it daily…. The more you seek this way the less you will reap. The greater a person’s desire for status, the more seriously they will have to be dealt with and the more they must undergo great refinement. That kind of person is too worthless! They must be dealt with and judged adequately in order for them to thoroughly let go of that. If you pursue this way until the end, you will reap nothing. Those who do not pursue life cannot be transformed; those who do not thirst for the truth cannot gain the truth. You don’t focus on pursuing personal transformation and entering in; you always focus on those extravagant desires, and things that constrain your love for God and restrain you from getting close to Him. Can those things transform you? Can they bring you into the kingdom?” Each line of God’s words was like a knock at the door of my heart, making me feel that God was beside me, monitoring my every word and movement. I could not help but reflect on my thoughts and actions over these past two days. I realized that my view of seeking was too base and too influenced by axioms of Satan such as “As a tree lives for its bark, a man lives for his face,” and “A man leaves his name behind wherever he stays, just as a goose utters its cry wherever it flies.” I always desired status so that I could win more praise from others, which resulted in me being tormented by face and status to the point that I became anxious and distracted, lost my appetite, couldn’t sleep, and made a fool of myself like a buffoon. Only then did I understand that such an environment was set up by God in accordance with my own state, and that it was God’s love coming upon me. This work of God today was to save me, to help me escape the dark influences of Satan so I could achieve salvation, to have me see clearly that my mode of seeking ran contrary to God’s will. I would not have been able to receive God’s approval even if I had believed in Him until the end. I would have been left with nothing! I therefore prayed silently to God: “Oh God! I am willing to obey Your work, walk on the path of faith in accordance with Your requirements, and put effort into Your word to achieve understanding of the truth and cast off my corrupt disposition. Regardless of whether I am made leader, I will pursue the truth and focus on changing my corrupt disposition to satisfy Your will.” After understanding God’s will, I felt especially calm in my heart and enjoyed fellowship with other sisters no matter which aspect of the truth of God’s words it was. After the gathering, the church leader said that, based on the recommendations of the majority of brothers and sisters, the other sister would be the new leader of the church, and that I would help with her work. Internally, I was very calm and accepted this readily, agreeing to work in harmony with her to fulfill our duty.
from How I Turned Back to Almighty God
Today’s Devotion: Do You Worship God in Spirit and in Truth?