By Panpan, the Philippines
The first time when I read the words expressed byof the last days, it was in March, 2013. It was my aunt who preached the to my mother and me. That happened to be at the time of my life being darkest and the most painful. I couldn’t get rid of my parents’ quarrels and the distress of life all the time, living in a nervous state every day and even detesting my parents bringing me into this world. Not until my aunt held God’s word before me did my life start to change. God’s words not only allowed me to understand the God who holds sovereignty over all things but let me feel unprecedented relief and find the true support …
As my college entrance exam scores were not high enough to get me into any university, I applied for a maritime college and attended the stewardess training class there before becoming a cabin stewardess (similar to flight attendants). And fortunately, it was a position through which I could have the chance to work abroad. In September, 2013, I graduated and our college began to arrange employment opportunities for us graduates. There were only two hiring requirements: good appearance and oral English skills. However, both my oral English and appearance were very average, so I was eliminated after I met the interviewers only a few minutes. To this end, I was deeply shocked, feeling that I seemed to have no chance. Every day, I just wasted time by sleeping, completely losing the goal and direction of my life.
After hearing I had attended an interview, my aunt came to visit me, and moreover, she read two passages of God’s words to me according to my situation, “From the moment you come crying into this world, you begin to perform your duty. You assume your role in the plan of God and in the ordination of God. You begin the journey of life. Whatever your background and whatever the journey ahead of you, none can escape the orchestration and arrangement that Heaven has in store, and none are in control of their destiny, for only He who rules over all things is capable of such work.” “Without the care, keeping, and provision of God, man cannot receive all that he was meant to receive, no matter how great the effort or struggle. Without the supply of life from God, man loses the sense of value in living and loses the sense of purpose in life” (“God Is the Source of Man’s Life”). After hearing God’s words, I understood that my whole life had been predestined by God and that whether or not I could work abroad all depended on the sovereignty of God. I felt I was so self-righteous that I always thought I could change my fate depending on my own efforts, yet I neglected relying on God. These words of God shamed me a bit, but also dispersed the shadow in my heart, which made me feel enlightened within. I felt God can see my inner needs and that He is so practical that He helped me resolve my difficulties by my aunt. Hence, I even more liked God’s words.
Not long after, I got another chance of interview and I went alone to Shanghai for it. Because I had God in my heart, I no longer felt timid. Having rested a night, I started to prepare for the interview at eight the next morning. When waiting for the interview, I saw two interviewers coming in and one of them was the one who eliminated me last time. From her expression, I saw she was still difficult, so I was suddenly like a deflated rubber ball; no matter how I encouraged myself, it wasn’t useful. I had to call my mother and tell her my concern. She told me, “Now we are not the same as before. You should learn to let nature take its course. Even if the interview is finally unsuccessful, you needn’t feel stressed. Maybe there are some other way waiting for you.” I understood the meaning of my mother’s words. So, after hanging up, I prayed to God, “O God, I’ll entrust today’s interview to You. If it succeeds, I’ll give thanks to You. If it fails, I also give thanks to You. Perhaps I’m not suitable for this job. May You grant me confidence, lead me and protect my heart. Thank and praise God. Amen!” After the, it was just my turn. The instant I wanted to open the door and go in, the agent suddenly pulled me back and let the girl behind me go in first. I felt confused. Without enough time to explain, she allowed me to interview in the office next door. In confusion, I went in and found the interviewer was a young man. After greeting, I sat down and started to interview. It still didn’t go very smoothly: When testing my oral English, the interviewer asked me the same question three times, but I still didn’t understand. My heart immediately sank and thought: It’s over. This time, it will end in failure again! Holding on to the end reluctantly, I came out of the office in despair. The agent came forward and asked me, “How about the interview? I specially changed an interviewer for you. This one is good-natured. Your interview should be OK, right?” I said despondently, “The hope is still slim. I couldn’t understand his questions.” She comforted me with a few words, saying that there would still be chances in the future. After saying goodbye to her, I got ready to head home with my luggage. At that time, I felt very upset, so I had to pray to God again, “O God, I have promised to obey You, but now in the face of the interview failing, I’m still so sad within. I feel I am still not resolute enough. May You lead me and let me learn to obey You. Amen!” I went to the railway station downcast and dejected. When the train was about to get in, the agent called me. For fear that she would tell me the news that I failed in interview, I pressed the key nervously, only to hear her saying excitedly, “You have passed the interview. The interviewer said he was very satisfied with you. Go back to your home and wait for a response at ease!” I could barely believe my ears. I hung up the phone and prayed to God at once, “O God, this is Your love coming down on me. It is because of Your arrangement that the agent changed the interviewer for me and it is also due to Your grace that I can get the job. I have seen Your wonderful deeds. Thank God. Amen!”
May 31, 2014 was the first day when I embarked. At the beginning of my work, I was not accustomed to the life. Because I was away from home alone and had no friends, I felt very weak in my heart. Especially when I was homesick, I would uncontrollably cry in secret. I put on my earphone and began to listen to a recital of God’s words: “Almighty God, the Head of all things, wields His kingly power from His throne. He rules over the universe and all things and He is guiding us on the whole earth. We shall often be close to Him, and come before Him in quietness; never shall we miss a single moment, and there are things to learn at all times. The environment around us as well as the people, matters and objects, all are permitted by His throne. Do not have a complaining heart, or God will not bestow His grace upon you” (“The Sixth Utterance”). As I listened I felt illuminated in my heart: Yes, the environments I encounter every day all hold the kindness of God and only the strange environments can better allow me to learn to rely on God and seek Him. Thinking of these, my heart had a support and I went through the better part of a year unknowingly.
On November 12, we sailed from Sanya for Vietnam and Philippines and there were many tourists that time. The liner reached Da Nang, Vietnam first. That day, it was raining at all times, so for the sake of safety, the liner only stayed for five hours after it reached the harbor at noon and then it got ready to set sail. In the beginning, there was a little typhoon upon the sea and the liner rocked a bit. After it sailed about half an hour, the sea had been folded by the dark clouds, everywhere being dark, and then the liner began to rock heavily. The typhoon had come. Through the window I saw the waves outside dashing against the windows unceasingly. Though I worked on the ninth floor, I still felt a bit nervous after seeing such a situation. It was the first time that I had encountered such a violent typhoon, so I was afraid whether the liner could arrive safely. After a while, the goods on the shelves were dashed to the ground and scattered everywhere. When I bent my waist to pick them up, I couldn’t stand steadily, so the manager allowed my colleagues and me who were all girls to close the door quickly and get ready to return to the dormitory. The moment we closed the iron door and started to leave, the electricity supply was cut off suddenly. The whole liner was dark immediately and the tourists were so frightened that they started shouting. So the liner continually played the broadcast in order to soothe the tourists’ emotions. As it said in English, some tourists couldn’t understand, so they were very anxious, like a headless chicken. An aunt grasped my arm and asked me unceasingly, “What does the broadcast mean? Where are we? What should we do if the liner upsets?” This series of questions made me not know how to answer, so I told her that she could go back to her room first, that someone would notify us and that I didn’t know the situation either. The typhoon became stronger and stronger. I felt the cruise ship tilted, and leaned toward the surface of the sea, almost capsizing. We could not walk normally at all and could only hold the either side of the rails to go forward. When we went downstairs, I saw many people gathered together on this floor. Some of them were crying and some others were shouting, as if they had felt the death, which made me feel somewhat frightened. Recalling the movies that narrate the liners faced disasters and finally sunk beneath the sea for no one came to the rescue, I felt even more panic. My colleagues and I quickened our speed to go back to our dormitory and waited for the notice of lifesaving. At the stairs-head of the floor we lived on, I saw clearly that a young father carried a two-or-three-year-old girl. The child kept crying and the father’s eyes were full of desperation, being so helpless just like a child. Seeing his helplessness, I thought about myself: If I die in this disaster, my parents will surely feel very painful … Thinking of these, I felt even more weak and helpless. Just at that point, I suddenly remembered God. Therefore, I prayed to God hurriedly and asked Him to lead me. Then a passage of words flashed into my mind: “And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, so that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he said to them, Why are you fearful, O you of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm” (Matthew 8:23-26). I thought: Right! I’m a believer in God. God commands the life and death of everyone. With God by my side, what am I afraid of? Hence, I prayed to God again, “O God, since I follow You, I should submit to Your designs and arrangements. Today’s disaster is also in Your hands. If I died in the disaster, I would also give thanks to Your righteousness for I’m a corrupted human being, so no matter how You choose to deal with me, it will be suitable. May God give me a strong heart so that I can give my life to You. If I could survive, I’ll be willing to testify for You, witnessing my personal experience to allow more people to worship You. Amen!” After the prayer, I felt very secure in my heart and I was really not afraid in the slightest. Because of the former worry and nervousness, I actually felt somewhat tired, and unconsciously, I held the either side of the iron rails and fell asleep.
When I woke up, the wind had lulled and the sunshine had shone into the cabin. I stood in it and couldn’t help feeling excited within and my tears also flowed down. I knelt down and prayed to God, “O God, it is because of Your protection that I escaped death and it is You who gave me faith so that I didn’t fear death. Thank God!” After I had washed, I went to work. When I went upstairs and saw everyone was there, I felt so happy. They said jokingly, “We heard that you had fallen asleep. You are so brave that you still thought to sleep in that extremity. We were all waiting for the death but only you went to sleep.” They couldn’t understand that it was not because I was brave but because I gained the faith and power by relying on God and obeying God. Just as God’s word says, “I want each and every man to see that all I have done is right, and that all I have done is an expression of My disposition; it is not man’s doing, least of all nature, that brought forth mankind. On the contrary, it is I who nourish every living being in creation. Without My existence, mankind will only perish and undergo the scourge of calamities. No human being will ever again see the beauteous sun and moon or the green world; mankind shall encounter only the frigid night and the inexorable valley of the shadow of death. I am mankind’s only salvation. I am mankind’s only hope and, even more, I am He on whom the existence of all mankind rests.” (“You Ought to Prepare a Sufficiency of Good Deeds for Your Destination”).
Through the experience of encountering disaster at sea, I even more saw clearly: God’s authority and sovereignty cannot be replaced by any created being. Only God can rule over all things and is the support in my heart. All the glory be to God! Amen!