By Yunfei, United States
I used to be a fan of martial arts novels. For nearly thirty years from adolescence to middle age, I had kept reading fiction every day. In the beginning, I borrowed or bought books to read and later downloaded novels by my cellphone. There were so many books in my house that I could even open a bookstore. However, when I indulged in fiction, the most precious time of my life was ruthlessly stolen by it.
I began to read fiction at the age of sixteen. One time, a friend of my elder brother came to visit us, carrying a martial arts novel named Seven Swordsmen. Out of curiosity, I opened the book and read and then was attracted by the story which was described vividly just like playing a movie in my mind. The more I read, the more excited I became. When I was deep in reading the book, my brother’s friend took it away because he was going home. In order to know the end of the story, I went to his house to borrow the book. After returning home, I finished reading it at one sitting. Since then, I had developed quite a liking for fiction. At first, I borrowed books from my brother’s friend, and later from whoever had novels. If they didn’t lend me the book, I would ride a bike to the bookstore in town to borrow one. At that time, I dropped out of school and had nothing to do at home. Every day, I either hung out with my friends or read fiction at home. I often read fiction till one or two o’clock in the morning, and even stayed up all night for the interesting part.
At first, I read fiction just to cheat the time. However, when I found that many leading characters in novels, who though were born poor didn’t lose hope in life but conducted themselves honestly, finally became heroes or swordsmen worthy of admiration and respect, I felt that their experiences resonated with me. For my father died in my childhood and my mother died at my age of sixteen, leaving my brother and I depending on each other. Because of such a family background, I was often treated with disdain by others. So I had a special attachment to fiction. It was not only my spiritual sustenance but also my closest friend. I regarded those leading characters as my idols, hoping that I would become a person like them. Sometimes I even dreamed that I became a swordsman and awoke happy.
With years passing by, I became more and more addicted to fiction, to the extent that I would read fiction deep into night after working ten hours every day. Sometimes when I finished reading a novel, I would get so fidgety that I would go to the bookstore to borrow a new book even if it was already 10 PM. Wherever I went to work, I would find the bookstore first. No matter how tired I was after work, I would go to bookstore to borrow books first. When we rested from labors, my colleagues would go out to have a meal and drink, but I only paid attention to fiction and seldom talked with them. Thus I had few friends over those years. For several times I smoked while reading fiction, and didn’t notice that the cigarette burnt a hole in the quilt because I was lost in reading. Thinking about it now, how dangerous it was back then. I often thought: If I had spent such energy on study instead of on fiction, I would have been admitted into the university.
After marriage, in order to support my family, I spent most of my time working outside and could only stay at home for about ten days or a fortnight a year. Every time I went home at the end of the year, I couldn’t leave novels for a second. If my child asked me to play with him, I would roar at him, for I disliked being bothered while reading fiction, and sometimes out of compulsion I would play with him reluctantly. Gradually, my child became more and more distant from me. Sometimes when my wife spoke to me, I was so focused on reading that I didn’t hear what she said. Then she said unhappily, “You spend the whole day reading fiction. Can it bring any benefits to you?” Because I had full attention on fiction, I seldom responded to my wife so that we had less and less words with each other.
Later, I worked at a building site in charge of operating piling machine. When the machine was working, it needed little attention and then I could have a break. But I felt empty in my heart for there was no fiction to read at hand. Since the company rules stated that we should work with no distraction during work hours, I took the book to my working place behind my boss’ back. As long as I had time, I would read it. Later, I even read fiction while operating the machine, which, unexpectedly, caused an accident. On a night shift, I read fiction while operating the machine as usual. My colleague was working on the machine bed in front of the piling machine. Ordinarily he would hang the tool on the drill stem after the machine stopped. However, that time, he went to take the tool when the machine was still running, which resulted in his leg being bound by the wire rope to the drive shaft. I didn’t notice what happened because I was reading the book at that time. Hearing a sound of bang, I was scared and hurried to stop the machine. Then I stood up only to find that my colleague was lying on the machine bed with his leg deformed by the wire rope. Later, my colleague was sent to the city hospital for his serious injuries. After the examination, the doctor said that his leg suffered a comminuted fractures and needed to be amputated. Hearing this news, I felt very guilty within. For if I weren’t so busy reading fiction, I could have stopped the machine in time and my colleague wouldn’t have been hurt so badly. So I resolved that I couldn’t be so infatuated with fiction any longer. But I still couldn’t control myself.
Several years had passed in a flash. In recent years, people are used to downloading novels onto cellphones to read. It was convenient and I could download dozens of books for free at a time. Then I became more obsessed with fiction. For several times I read fiction while walking and almost bumped into something. In March, 2017, I went abroad to work. Before leaving, I downloaded more than 600 novels.
After I came overseas for less than a month, I got acquainted with two sisters whoat my working place. They preached the kingdom of God to me. Because my mother and mother-in-law believe in God, and I believe the existence of God, knowing believing in God is a good thing. I didn’t reject what they said. They witnessed to me the process of God’s creating the heavens and earth and all things and mankind, and told me the origination of mankind’s depravity and three stages of work that God carried out to save mankind: In the Age of Law, God issued laws so that we humans could be aware of our sins. In the Age of Grace, the was nailed to the cross to redeem us. In the last days, God became flesh again and expressed the word Himself to judge our corruption, save us from Satan’s influence completely, and take us into our beautiful destination. Through their fellowships and testimonies, I knew many truths which I had never heard before. I knew that we were created by God so we should submit to the Creator, and that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus. So I accepted Almighty God’s work in the last days and agreed to attend meetings twice a week. Sisters downloaded the church’s videos of hymns and gospel movies for me, and gave me a book of God’s words.
Though sisters advised that only when I read God’s words more could I understand the truth, I didn’t take their words seriously. When having time, I still read fiction instead of God’s words. After two or three months, I felt that my growth in truth was so slow. Hearing the experiences and testimonies of brothers and sisters about practicing God’s word in life, I felt they were so real. But since I seldom read God’s word, I couldn’t recall God’s words when encountering things, much less ponder God’s words. So I reaped nothing. Thinking that God’s work would soon be concluded but I didn’t understand any truth, I was a bit worried that I would be despised by God. I reflected upon myself: Why is my growth in life so slow? Is it because I’ve spent most of my time in reading fiction?
Once, we fellowshiped a passage of God’s word in the meeting: “A world in man’s heart with no place for God is dark, empty without hope. … More and more people treat records of the work of God and His words during the Old Testament age as myths and legends. In their hearts, people become indifferent to the dignity and greatness of God, to the tenet that God exists and holds dominion over all things. The survival of mankind and the fate of countries and nations are no longer important to them. Man lives in a hollow world only concerned with eating, drinking, and the pursuit of pleasure. … Man, after all, is man. The position and life of God cannot be replaced by any man. Mankind does not just require a fair society in which everyone is well-fed and is equal and free, but the salvation of God and His provision of life to them. Only when man receives the salvation of God and His provision of life to them can the needs, yearning to explore, and spiritual emptiness of man be resolved” (“God Presides Over the Fate of All Mankind”). After reading God’s words, the sister fellowshiped, “In the beginning, our ancestors lived in the Garden of Eden with God’s companionship, guidance, and blessing. However, since they were tempted by Satan and ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we are corrupted more and more deeply and have strayed farther and farther from God. With the development of mankind, though science is making increasing progress and our living standard has gradually improved, we fall into the deeper emptiness of the heart, and could only use various means such as drinking, eating, and having fun to fill the emptiness of our hearts. More and more people are addicted to gambling, games, fiction, and even drugs. These bring us the temporary pleasure and help us kill the time, but meanwhile they have sapped our will, occupied our hearts, and made us have no time to worship God. Once we are accustomed to them, it is hard for us to dispense with them. In the end, not only did the problem of the emptiness in our heart not be resolved, but we became increasingly degenerate and decadent and even lost the normal humanity. From this, we can see clearly the means that Satan uses to corrupt and devour us. In fact, what we truly need is God’s salvation; only when we come before God and accept His guidance, can we live under His blessings.”
Through God’s words and the sister’s fellowship, I came to understand the reason why we felt empty within: It is because we have strayed from God and have never thought to look for God but use drinking, eating, playing games and reading fiction to replace God. Thinking back, I read fiction only to kill the time in the beginning, but later I was sinking deeper and deeper, to the extent of neglecting meals and sleep. Because of reading fiction, I was careless of the relationship with my family and even caused my colleague’s serious injury. Satan truly has harmed me grievously! Now I believe in God, but I still pay all my attention to reading fiction, so that I don’t have enough time to read God’s word and worship God. My situation is just the same as what the sister said. Then I told the sister my situation of reading fiction. She read God’s words to me: “The devil Satan does these things in order to lure people, to cause them to degenerate. For those who live in virtual worlds, they have no interest whatsoever in anything to do with the life of normal humanity; they are not in the mood to work or study. They are only concerned about going to virtual worlds, as though they are being enticed by something.” “The things of normal humanity have been stripped away by these games, filled and forcibly occupied by them, and they have forcibly occupied the things within people’s thoughts as well as any room they have for thought; they are then decadent” (“Young People Should See Through the Evil Trends of the World”). Each of God’s words spoke to my heart. I, just like a fiction addict, spent all my spare time in reading fiction, having no interest in anything else. Without fiction, I felt my life was incomplete and couldn’t live a single day, so that I could even go to the bookstore at late night to borrow books. Reading fiction has become an important part of my life, even more important than my wife and child. In the past, I thought that only gambling and playing games were harmful. From God’s word, I came to know that fiction, like game and gamble, was also a mean which Satan used to harm people. I was more certain that it was reading fiction that delayed the growth of my life. I made a resolution in my heart: I will delete the novels after returning home and no longer read them.
However, when I picked up my cellphone, seeing the downloaded novels which I liked, I felt a little reluctant to delete them. Later, I recalled a passage of God’s word: “Do not come into contact with things that can draw your heart away to the outside, and do not come into contact with people who can draw your heart away from God. Drop whatever it is that can distract your heart from being close to God, or stay away from it. That way is more beneficial to your life” (“On Quieting Your Heart Before God”). I came before God and prayed to Him, “Oh, Almighty God! Now I understand that wallowing in fiction can only make me become more and more decadent. I should spend more time in reading Your word. But I feel a little reluctance. May You lead me, give me faith, and help me give up fiction.” After praying, I deleted all the novels on my cellphone at a time. It was really amazing! Since then, I really didn’t want to read fiction anymore. When seeing the novels recommended on the cellphone, I had no interest in them. It is thanks to God’s work that I could give up the habit of reading fiction which I had had for many years. I truly saw God’s great power and appreciated that nothing is impossible for God.
Now, I persist in reading God’s word or watching gospel videos every morning before going to work. Though it doesn’t last long, I feel assured in my heart. At work, I often listen to the hymns of praise on my earphone while doing my job with heart at ease before God. After returning home, I often listen to sermons or watch gospel movies and videos when having time. I often attend meetings, fellowshiping God’s word and singing hymns to praise God with my brothers and sisters. Unknowingly, I understand more and more truth. When encountering things, I could realize that it is the lessons arranged by God and recall God’s word. Living like this, I feel contented and happy. Under God’s care and protection, I have gained a kind of assuredness and satisfaction that I never tasted before. After having finished with fiction, I have more contact with my family. Over these years, I never actively showed concern about them, so my wife and child had nothing to say with me, which made me so sad. But I know it was caused by myself. Now I want to improve our relationship, so when having time, I proactively call my family and send them text to see how they are. Besides, I can talk with my colleagues and get along with them. I gradually recover the life of normal man.
In the course of past thirty years of my life, expect for working, I spent the rest of the time in reading fiction every day, which wasted my best years. I asked myself: What have I gained from fiction? Because of fiction, I wasted a great deal of money and time. Because of fiction, I couldn’t communicate with my wife and child normally and thus our relationship had grown increasingly cold. Because of fiction, I couldn’t get along with my colleagues and became increasingly withdrawn, having no friends. Because of fiction, I caused my colleague’s amputation and also brought loss to my boss. I had read a great number of novels over these years, but there was no word in them telling me how the heavens, the earth and all things were formed, or that I, a created being, should come before God to know the Creator; neither did they bring me the right direction of life, nor make me know the value of my life. In contrast, though I have believed in God for only several months, I have gained many truths by reading God’s word, such as how the heavens, the earth and all things were formed, the mystery of God’s ruling over all things, the source of mankind’s corruption, and God’s intention of saving mankind. I also come to know how to live a valuable and meaningful life. I would never understand these truths even if I read all the novels in the world. God says: “How should you live your life? How should you love God, and use this love to satisfy His desire? There is no greater matter in your life. Above all, you must have such aspirations and perseverance, and should not be like those spineless weaklings. You must learn how to experience a meaningful life, and experience meaningful truths, and should not treat yourself perfunctorily in that way. Without you realizing it, your life will pass you by; and after that, will you have another opportunity to love God? … You should pursue all that is beautiful and good, and should pursue a path in life that is more meaningful. If you lead such a vulgar life, and do not pursue any objectives, do you not waste your life? What can you gain from such a life? You should forsake all enjoyments of the flesh for the sake of one truth, and should not throw away all truths for the sake of a little enjoyment. People like this have no integrity or dignity; there is no meaning to their existence!” (“The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment”). Man’s life is short. I can’t reverse the time. Now I have the fortune to come before God and accept His salvation in the last days, which is really my greatest blessing, much more God’s uplifting of me. I am willing to pursue the truth in earnest and equip myself with God’s words more, so that I can grow in life quickly and perform my duty as a created being for the sake of God’s kingdom gospel. I should satisfy God, repay His love, and live out a meaningful life. All the glory be to God!