By Lin Jing
A unique landscape came into my view: There was deep blue sky and endless mountains. The streams running off the peak of Mt. Tianshan were flowing slowly at the foot of it. There was still snow on the top of the yonder hills. Herds of cattle and sheep were grazing. Drawing in a breath of fresh air, I felt as if I was in a natural oxygen bar, which was absolutely breathtaking. I couldn’t but praise the wonderful deeds of the Creator—such a nice living environment that He bestowed upon mankind.
However, although I was far away from the noisy city and roaming among the beautiful scenery, I felt somewhat blue and couldn’t calm down to enjoy the scene. Two years ago, my parents divorced on grounds of domestic trivialities. Not long after that, my father went to another city which was far from home to further his career and married another woman Ye. And I lived with my mom. This time, I came to the city to visit my father, and would stay for some time. Meanwhile, he took Aunt Ye and me to travel with his car.
My father asked about my career once and again on the way: “When can you make big money? When can you buy your house or car? Money is the most important thing in this society….” He repeatedly asked me these realistic problems and Aunt Ye stirred up the conversation. She boasted when she was young how independent she was and how hard she worked to make money to have a good life, and so on. As for me, a new graduate, I felt disgusted and helpless at their words. I was on pins and needles …
And then father continued saying, “In this society, only when you have money, can you be looked upon by others. The wealthy can live in mansions and drive fancy cars, while the poor could only have a low salary and have to economize. You’ve grown up. Don’t be confined to book learning. You should experience more things in society and learn to be silver-tongued. You should know marketing and learn how to make money with money….” At his words, I couldn’t help but retort, “Dad, would you please stop talking about money? What if we have money? Do people only use money to maintain relationships with others? Dad, you’ve been struggling to earn money all the time, but are you happy? …” The car fell silent as I finished my words. Both father and Aunt Ye no longer said anything. I was therefore forced to find another subject and finally the embarrassing situation was relieved.
After the silence, the words of my father provoked my thoughts: Is it really the greatest preoccupation that we earn money? Is making money indeed our motivation and purpose to live? Can we truly be happy if we become rich? … I looked at my father. Years of vicissitudes had left their mark on his face—wrinkles. His working hard turned into a few streaks of grey hair. Father, who was accomplished in his career, looked tired and old, having lost his previous honest and simple look for long. Less than two years after he married my mother, he went to a big city to fight for survival. It was not easy for him to build the business up from nothing. He had to do everything himself, which made him exhausted physically and mentally. As for Aunt Ye, in her past life, she was doing business together with her ex-husband before they divorced. Her ex-husband taking charge of the factory, she searched customers, giving lavish dinner parties and gifts to them, entertaining them and going to KTV with them. As a result, she always came back home at midnight. Outwardly, she looked clever and capable and indeed got some achievements by her glib tongue, but her careful make-up couldn’t hide the wrinkles around her eyes and she always wore a long, sad face.
Looking at them, I had mixed emotions. Though they had much money and were enjoying a good material life, they were not as happy as I thought. They had no communication with each other, always spending their time eating, drinking, and making merry every day. I thought of God’s word saying, “In fact, no matter how lofty man’s ideals are, no matter how realistic man’s desires are or how proper they may be, all that man wants to achieve, all that man seeks for is inextricably linked with two words. These two words are vitally important to the life of every person, and these are things Satan intends to instill in man. Which two words are these? One is ‘fame’ and one is ‘gain’: They are fame and gain. Satan uses a very subtle kind of way, a way very much in concert with people’s notions; it is not any kind of radical way. In the midst of unawareness, people come to accept Satan’s way of living, its rules of living, establishing life goals and their direction in life, and in doing so they also unknowingly come to have ideals in life. No matter how high-sounding these ideals in life seem, they are just a pretext that is inextricably linked to fame and gain. … People think that once they have fame and gain, they can then capitalize on them to enjoy high status and great wealth, and to enjoy life. Once they have fame and gain, they can then capitalize on them in their pleasure-seeking and unscrupulous enjoyment of the flesh. People willingly, albeit unknowingly, take their bodies, minds, all that they have, their futures and their destinies and hand them all over to Satan in order to attain the fame and gain they desire. People do this without ever a moment’s hesitation, ever ignorant of the need to recover it all. Can people still have any control over themselves once they go over to the side of Satan in this way and become loyal to it? Certainly not. They are completely and utterly controlled by Satan. They are also completely and utterly unable to free themselves from the quagmire they have sunk down into. Once someone is mired in fame and gain, they no longer seek that which is bright, that which is righteous or those things that are beautiful and good. This is because the seductive power that fame and gain have over people is too great, and they become things for people to pursue throughout their lives and even for all eternity without end. Is this not true?”
That’s right! Satan uses fame and gain to bind and control us human, so that we are not satisfied with status quo and then pursue money and advocate material desires. We take these as our goals in life: “Money is first,” “Money isn’t everything, but without it, you can do nothing,” “ranking higher than others and being in charge of others.” To this end, we make great efforts and struggle hard. The experience of my father and Aunt Ye is a vivid example. In the first half of their lives, they all labored for money. In order to earn more money, father came alone to a strange city to fight for existence. Though he gained money and fame, he burned himself out and became disease-ridden, and finally got a divorce from my mother because they couldn’t meet each other often. Aunt Ye was smart with a high level of knowledge. She had good dealings with her partners, but she had experienced the miserable life full of schemes and deceit, living in falsehoods with masks every day. Though they lived a wealthy and admirable life, who knows the price they had paid and the bitterness they had suffered behind it? Could money really bring happiness to them? The fact was perfectly clear.
I thought about myself: In order to make more money and live respectably, I took “standing out and being an important person” as my life goal. In my school years, I studied very hard only for getting a high diploma and having a comfortable and well-paid job; after graduation, when I first started to work, in order to hold my ground and make more money, I racked my brains and lost my initial pure heart. Finally I gained money and material pleasures, but I felt increasingly empty and pain in my heart. Those were bitter fruits brought about by Satan’s corruption. Without the revelation of God’s words, I couldn’t see through Satan’s evil intentions to confuse and corrupt mankind by fame and gain, and I could only live in its snare, and take the same path as the worldly in the pursuit of fame and gains.
God’s word says, “Wherever one is, whatever one’s job is, one’s means of living and the pursuit of one’s goals bring one nothing but endless heartbreak and irrelievable suffering, such that one cannot bear to look back. Only when one accepts the Creator’s sovereignty, submits to His orchestrations and arrangements, and seeks true human life, will one gradually break free from all heartbreak and suffering, shake off all the emptiness of life.” “No matter what it is that mankind seeks or what they desire, only those who return before the Creator and dutifully fulfill and complete what they are supposed to do and the commission which they have accepted, will live with an easy conscience and will live in a way that is right and proper, without any pain. This is the meaning and the value of life.”
Recalling my bitter experiences and looking at father and Aunt Ye who were bound by fame and gain, I felt very sad. Before we mankind come before God, we all live by Satan’s rules for living, so our outlook on life is distorted. The more we pursue to stand out and be important persons, the more we feel great pain and miserable. Even if we gain fame and wealth, we can just temporarily enjoy them. After that we will still feel empty and dark. Fame and gain can neither bring us real peace and happiness nor buy health and life. And with them, in the end, we still cannot escape from death. Our lives come from God. He arranges for us to come into the world and wants us not to live by the satanic laws of survival, but to live by His word and perform our duty as the created beings so that we can live in the light and glorify and manifest Him. Only when we come before God to accept His sovereignty, pursue to know and obey Him, and act according to His word, can we live a valuable and meaningful life. Just like Job, he neither pursued material enjoyments nor rushed about and labored for money and fame, but walked the path of fearing God and shunning evil and pursued to become a person who truly worshiped God. Therefore, when Satan’s temptation befell him and so he lost all his possession and his daughters and sons, he still obeyed God’s sovereignty and arrangement without the slightest complaint and praised His holy name, saying, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Jehovah gave, and the Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of the Jehovah” (Job 1:21). Even though he was faced with death, he was fearless and calm, and still walked in God’s way, thus living a valuable and meaningful life.
At that time, I suddenly realized that as a created being, we should obey and worship God, and only in this way can we live a valuable and meaningful life. Several days later, the tour was over, and I flew back home. Then I had meetings with my sisters and brothers normally. I felt steadfast and peaceful when fellowshiping God’s words with them. Thank God for leading me to understand the true meaning of life from the journey.