I once heard a thought-provoking story:
A trader who had been away from home for many years decided to return home, and he would walk through a vast desert on the way. With the gold coins earned through years of hard work and enough food and water, he set out on the journey happily. However, soon the blistering heat of the desert was unbearable for him. He must lighten the load so as to walk out of the desert as soon as possible. He was hesitant to make a choice among the coins, food and water. Thinking that he had spent most of his life accumulating the wealth, he was too loath to throw a single coin away. Hence, he discarded most of the food and water and was on his way again.
He had not walked far when there was little food and water left. Just then, he heard the sound of camel bells: A camel caravan was coming towards him. The trader was overjoyed and hurriedly went forward seeking for help. Unexpectedly, after learning the trader’s situation, the caravan asked him for a large sum of gold coins in exchange for food and water. The trader, hungry and thirsty, touched his money bag and said to himself: “To exchange the gold coins for food and water can support me to walk out of the desert as quickly as possible. But, if so, little of my wealth will remain.” Finally, the trader gritted his teeth and said: “I won’t buy your food and water. As long as I hold on a little longer, I can walk out of the desert.” The members of the caravan all laughed at him: “What a miser! He prefers money to life!” Yet the trader ignored their derision and resumed his journey.
Without water, the trader could scarcely move his dragging limbs and flaked out before he got much farther. He touched his gold coins and thought: How I wish these gold coins could be drunk as water! Just at this moment, another caravan passed by. The trader begged them for water, but they also asked him to trade many gold coins for food and water. Still, he was too stubborn to do that. Then he picked himself up with difficulty and stumbled forward. The people of the caravan shouted behind him: “Which is more important, coins or life?” However, the trader was indifferent to their words.
The following day, the trader trudged to the edge of the desert, and he even dimly saw the smoke from the village in the distance. Nevertheless, he had already been exhausted. Eventually, he toppled down. Before he died, he sighed: “If I had given up my gold coins earlier, I would not be dying now. It’s late, too late …”
At this point of the story, many of us may feel sorry for the trader’s greed and ignorance. However, we might as well put ourselves in his shoes and reflect upon ourselves, or pay attention to the people around us. Are we not the same as him most of the time? Being beguiled by Satan, so many people bustle about struggling for fame and fortune with every effort all their lives. Not content with living comfortably, some people try their best to obtain better material enjoyments throughout their lives and are unwilling to give up their pursuit even when they are full of illnesses. Not satisfied with being rich only, some fight for status to stand out and be distinguished. Some spend their lifetime striving for fame and profit, and when they fall ill lying in bed they still worry about their gains and losses. Tempted by fame and fortune, people expose various follies, which forces us to reflect: Does man live only for fame and fortune? What exactly is the value of man’s existence? God says: “People spend their lives chasing after money and fame; they clutch at these straws, thinking they are their only means of support, as if by having them they could keep on living, could exempt themselves from death. But only when they are close to dying do they realize how distant these things are from them, how weak they are in the face of death, how easily they shatter, how lonely and helpless they are, with nowhere to turn. They realize that life cannot be bought with money or fame, that no matter how wealthy a person is, no matter how lofty his or her position is, all people are equally poor and inconsequential in the face of death. They realize that money cannot buy life, that fame cannot erase death, that neither money nor fame can lengthen a person’s life by a single minute, a single second.” “The Creator treats everyone fairly, giving everyone a lifetime’s worth of opportunities to experience and know His sovereignty, yet it is only when death draws near, when the specter of death hangs over one, that one begins to see the light—and then it is too late” (“God Himself, the Unique III”).
s warn every one of us that fame and money cannot bring man life because they are the tools used by Satan to deceive and harm man. If man becomes obsessed with them, they will only stray further and further from God. Without God’s care and protection, mankind will be fooled by Satan like a plaything in its hands, blinded by fame and fortune and incapable of distinguishing between good and evil. People spend a lifetime’s worth of energy pursuing fame and gain. What’s more, when faced with the threats of disaster, disease, and death, they still think how to preserve their hard-earned money and fame, just like the trader in the desert. They do not awaken until the last minute of their lives. But it is too late to regret then. In fact, man was created by God personally, so his life and fate are controlled by God’s hands. It is God’s will that man should worship Him, obey His sovereignty and arrangement, and commit everything to Him, so God will protect man from Satan’s test. Only by living before God and obtaining the truth as life can man live out a most meaningful life.
During the last days, God bestows upon mankind all the truth of pursuing salvation and gaining eternal life. If man is able to not be restrained by fame, money and position and come before God to receive His salvation, he will obtain God’s guidance and blessings and live out the value a created being is supposed to. As God’s word says: “If one views life as an opportunity to experience the Creator’s sovereignty and come to know His authority, if one sees one’s life as a rare chance to perform one’s duty as a created human being and to fulfill one’s mission, then one will necessarily have the correct outlook on life, will live a life blessed and guided by the Creator, will walk in the light of the Creator, know the Creator’s sovereignty, come under His dominion, become a witness to His miraculous deeds and to His authority” (“God Himself, the Unique III”).