When the Lord returns, how can we recognize His voice and welcome Him?
Every time I sing this hymn “If I Were Not Saved by God,” I thank God for His salvation with mixed feelings, and meanwhile, I can’t help but think of my former sorrows …
Unconsciously, I Fell Into the Trickery
In 2000, my husband and I moved to a county, and rented a small storefront and carried on our own business. However, because there were too many storefronts and competition between us was intense, our business was not very good. I often saw my business neighbors gambling at mahjong or poker in small huddles when they were free and bored, but I never joined them. Until one day, my neighbor Mr. Zeng won the lottery. He happily treated us to a meal, and shared with us his experience of winning the lottery with pride: “As for playing the lottery, such as the Two-Tone Ball lottery, the prize is at least 40 times the value of the ticket. You can make big profits with small capital. And even if you lose, you won’t suffer great losses. The most important thing we should do is to grab the chance. If fortune smiles on you, your road to wealth will be open….” As I heard him talking about the way to make money with gusto, I was more and more excited, with my heart being unable to rest. I thought: In this competitive society, it’s indeed difficult for me, who do business honestly, to earn lots of money and grow wealthy. If I play the lottery with him, with luck, I may receive a windfall. The popular proverb says, “A man without a windfall will never get rich just like a horse starved of hay at night will never put on weight.” Besides, I can also do business as usual. Isn’t it a good way to enrich my family fortunes? In this way, I was possessed and began to buy lottery tickets with Zeng.
I Indulged Myself in Gambling, Which Caused My Family’s Complaints and Resentment Against Me
At the beginning, I just wanted to have a try. To my surprise, I won 2,000 to 3,000 yuan in a month. Looking at these money, I was content and thought I could make more money in a shorter time by playing the lottery than by doing business. If things continued like this, in several years, we could afford not only our son’s school fees but also a house. The more I thought about it, the sweeter it became. I felt that the hope of having money was right there before me. Later, the more lottery tickets I bought, the more I was addicted to it, and the higher stakes I played for. When I won, I had more confidence in playing the lottery, and when I lost, I also continued, because I thought only by continuing buying did I have an opportunity to win. Even at meal times I would also learn information about playing the lottery. I always concerned myself with what winning numbers would be drawn in the next drawing, what numbers I should choose to win the prize, how much I should bet, and so on. And so, I was occupied with how to pick my lottery numbers, how much I should bet and what numbers I should bet on, having no interest in caring about other things. One day, my husband said to me: “You have lost half of the funding for our business. If you don’t stop, our business will stop instead. And then what can we do for a living? Many families were destroyed because of gambling….” But I was deaf to his words and thought I couldn’t lose all the time, and that I was pretty sure I could win someday. Regardless of my husband’s advice, I stubbornly insisted on buying lottery tickets…
So just like that, not long after, I lost all the funding for our business. After my husband knew that, he was so angry that he beat me, and wanted to divorce me because he felt I was heartless and cruel and didn’t love our family. Afterward, for my son’s sake, my husband didn’t do that, but our affection had fallen apart. He no longer spoke to me, and even my son looked at me in resentment. Facing this kind of life, I felt great pain as if a knife were piercing my heart. I wanted to stop, but once I thought I had lost so much money, I refused to give up in my heart. I thought: It’ll be impossible to win my money back if I stop playing now. In any case I can’t save the kinship between my family and me. I may as well struggle again regardless of everything; I maybe have a hope of getting the money back. In this way, I put all of my extra money into buying lottery tickets. Unexpectedly, I finally lost all my money. At that time, I felt completely disheartened. I wanted to cry but no tears came. I thought to myself: I have lost all our money, and moreover, our goods are out of stock now. What can we live on in the following days? How can I afford my son’s school fees?
When I was in great pain, I thought as long as I could borrow some money, I would be able to recoup my losses. Thinking of this, I made an excuse that I needed to afford my son’s school fees and then borrowed 2,000 yuan from my elder sister behind my husband’s back, and then I put it all into playing the lottery, but lost all again. At that moment, with my hands and feet trembling, I nearly fainted and even didn’t know how I returned home finally. Furthermore, I didn’t have courage to tell my family this thing. I could only hide it in my heart and sigh all day. I became taciturn and disconsolate. I couldn’t fall asleep all night long, and thinking of my failure in family and business, I was so pained that I preferred death to living. I often gazed at the sky with tears and said: “God! What should I do? Please show me a right path.”
When I Reached My End, God Saved Me
After a while, one of my clients, Sister Wang, came to preach the gospel of theto me and gave me a book of . After she left, I saw a paragraph of God’s words, “Mankind, who left the supply of life from the Almighty, does not know why they exist, and yet fears death. There is no support, no help, but mankind is still reluctant to close their eyes, braving it all, drags out an ignoble existence in this world in bodies without the consciousness of souls. You live like such, with no hope; he exists like such, with no aim. There is only the Holy One in the legend who will come to save those who moan in suffering and long desperately for His arrival. This belief cannot be realized so far in the people who are unconscious. However, the people still yearn for it so. The Almighty has mercy on these people who suffer deeply. At the same time, He is fed up with these people who have no consciousness, because He has to wait too long for the answer from humans. He desires to seek, seek your heart and your spirit. He wants to bring you food and water and to awaken you, so you are no longer thirsty, no longer hungry. 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.” God’s words deeply touched my heart, as if God was talking to me face to face and told me that He was watching by my side all the time, that He was waiting for me to suddenly awake and turn back to Him, and that He would save me from the abyss of misery and take me back to His family. Now I was living in pain, and lost the direction and goal of life. I didn’t know how to walk the following way, and moreover, I didn’t know what I could do except buying lottery tickets. God’s sincere calls let my heart which had been lonely and afflicted for a long time enjoy His love and warmth. My tears kept running down my face …
I Finally Saw Through Satan’s Schemes
Later, Sister Wang, together with several brothers and sisters, came to attend meetings with me. Though I was unfamiliar with them, yet seeing that they were wholesome and dignified, that they all could lay bare their difficulties and troubles, and that they helped each other like family members, I, moved by God’s love, also poured out my misery in the bottom of my heart to them. Not only did they not ridicule me, but instead they comforted me and said: “Buying lottery tickets is just like gambling. They are the means that Satan employs to corrupt and afflict man. We lack truth and can’t distinguish Satan’s tricks, so it’s easy for us to be fooled by Satan. Today, God incarnate came to the earth to express words and supply the truth. His will is to save us who are corrupted and afflicted by Satan.” After they fellowshiped, they opened the book of God’s words and read: “But to people, it seems like a world of gaiety and splendor, one that is becoming more and more so. When people look upon the world, their hearts are drawn to it, and many are unable to extricate themselves from it; great numbers will be beguiled by those who engage in trickery and sorcery. If you do not strive for progress, and are without ideals, you will be swept away by this sinful wave.
“You have lost everything that should have belonged to you and everything that the Almighty bestowed upon you. You have entered an endless sea of bitterness, with no strength of a rescue, no hope of survival, left only to struggle and to bustle about…. From that moment, you are doomed to be afflicted by the evil one, kept far away from the blessings of the Almighty, out of reach of the provisions of the Almighty, and you embark on a road of no return.”
After that, they fellowshiped with me, “This world is ruled by Satan. People nowadays all advocate money and material desires, and pursue excitement. We are instilled with Satan’s fallacies, such as “A man without luck won’t strike it rich,” “Gambling can make people become rich easily,” etc. We are deceived by Satan’s lies and begin to praise them and adapt to all kinds of evil trends raised up by Satan. Once we walk on this wrong path, we can’t easily turn around. Unconsciously, we become the captives of Satan, and be completely controlled, fooled and trampled on by Satan at will, and eventually devoured by it, just like under a spell. This is Satan’s purpose of using evil trends to tempt us.”
Hearing the sister’s fellowship, I was amazed: Actually these are Satan’s schemes, and behind them all are controlled by Satan and evil spirits. It is no wonder that once people get involved in gambling, drug, computer games, and so on, they can’t give up them easily. At this moment, I thought of myself. Because I listened to Satan’s nonsense, such as “A man without a windfall will never get rich” and “Gambling can make the money roll in,” I walked onto the path of buying lottery tickets and became so deeply ensnared in gambling that I couldn’t extricate myself even though I wanted to. During that time, although I always lost money, yet because I listened to Satan’s nonsense “One can’t be a loser forever,” I continued buying lottery tickets so as to recoup my losses. Finally, not only did I not become rich, but on the contrary, I lost all of our family property and had gambling debts, and thus I nearly caused the breakup of my family. All of this made me live in pain beyond description. The reason that I was in such a situation was that I had left the supply of God’s life and been poisoned by Satanic evil trends. After I realized these, I resolved in secret: I can no longer be controlled and bound by Satan. I must genuinely, read more of God’s word, pursue an understanding of more truths, and live before God and in the light.
Under the Guidance of God’s Words, I Overcame the Temptations of Satan
One day soon after, I just prepared dinner. Suddenly, I heard that Zeng in the neighboring room said to his wife with delight: “Today I hit the jackpot. I win tens of thousands yuan. So we can finance a new house. In the future, we won’t have to worry about food, clothing and shelter anymore.” With these words he laughed. Hearing this news, my heart couldn’t help churning. I tossed and turned in bed all night, unable to fall asleep and the news that Zeng hit the jackpot was in the forefront of my mind all the time. I thought: Can I gamble again and win back my money? But I also thought of the pain I had suffered for more than ten years because of gambling, so I hesitated. I asked myself: “Do I want to be continually corrupted and afflicted by Satan?” Thinking of this, I was in a state of struggle and pain until the dawn.
The next day, during the meeting, I always dozed off and was listless. When my brothers and sisters saw my situation, they asked me with concern: “Sister, what’s wrong with you? Are you feeling sick?” I tried my best to cover up my passive situation for fear that they would laugh at me, but Sister Liang figured it out and said to me: “We are all brothers and sisters. No matter what is in your mind, you can speak it out. If you have troubles, we can seek truths to resolve them together.” Her genuine words moved my heart, so I told them the news that yesterday my neighbor hit the jackpot and what I thought about it. At my words, Sister Liang said: “It’s Satan’s temptation befalling you. God wants to save us, but Satan follows shortly thereafter and thinks of ways to make us return to its camp, so that it can continue afflict us. Through the revelation of God’s words and your personal experience, you’ve experienced that buying lottery tickets is a method and way that Satan corrupts and swallows up man. You’re willing to reject Satan and return to God, but Satan won’t give up easily. So it uses this thing to entice you to play the lottery again, and then return to its evil path….” After that, she let me read a passage of God’s words, “You must find ways to free yourself from this depraved, carefree life that is no different from an animal’s. You must live out a life of meaning, a life of value, and you must not fool yourself, or treat your life like a toy to be played with. … 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.”
God’s words showed me the direction in life and the objective to pursue, and allowed me to have resolution and perseverance to pursue the true life. I thought: In the past, for winning back the money lost, I lived without human likeness and was pained all day. But since I believed in God and read God’s words together with my brothers and sisters, I have understood some truths, and had some knowledge of God’s salvation and Satan’s harm. What’s more, this feeling of sureness, enjoyment and liberation in my heart cannot be achieved in exchange for any money. This kind of life is indeed the meaningful life. I can’t continue being afflicted and ravaged by Satan, and instead I must have strength to speak “no” to Satan and lottery. I will rely on God to completely free myself from Satan’s bondage and affliction, pursue the truth, walk onto the bright and right path of life and live out a meaningful life. Therefore, I knelt down and prayed to God: “Oh God! Thank You for saving me in time. Thank You for using truth to guide me to walk the right path. God, I don’t have any truth and I can’t discern Satan’s schemes, so I can be confused and seduced by Satan at any time and any place. If not for reading Your words and fellowshiping about the truth with brothers and sisters, I would be captured by Satan again. God! I am willing to repent and start afresh. May You give me more confidence and strength to walk the path of pursuing the truth. Amen!”
Under the guidance of God’s words, my 12-year painful life of playing the lottery ended. When I preached the gospel of the kingdom of God and told my experience to my relatives, friends, and classmates, they were all amazed and simply didn’t dare to believe that I could easily abstain from my 12-year gambling addiction. What was even more delightful to me was that because of my transformation, my husband and my younger son also accepted the gospel of God’s kingdom. Now, our family often read God’s words together and communicate our experience and knowledge of God’s words. Though our days are ordinary and uneventful, we all live in God’s love happily.
All the glory be to God!