The Lord has come secretly before disasters. How can we welcome Him?
By Xunqiu, Japan
After getting married, I needed to face a new home environment. In order to protect my relationships with my husband’s family, I spoke and acted cautiously every day, fearing that I would make mistakes. So, I felt a lot of pressure in my heart. At that time, when I saw the believers in the Lord in my village lived with much joy, I just couldn’t figure that out: Why are they so delighted? Out of curiosity, I also went to the church to attend a meeting. In the meeting, a sister told me: “Theis a God who is full of lovingkindness and mercy. He loves others more than Himself; He is meek and lowly and is by our side at any time; moreover, He is the lamp to our feet and the light to our path. No matter what difficulties we have, we can tell Him and He will hear our prayers.” Hearing these words, I was moved very much and I felt warm and at ease as if I had found a true friend. I even more felt that God’s compassionate and loving disposition was so wonderful especially when I saw the Lord’s words “Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls” (Matthew 11:29). And I rather longed for following His words, so I prayed to the Lord, saying I wanted to imitate Him. Afterward, when interacting with my husband’s family, I tried my best to be a humble person, forbear and forgive them. Gradually, my relationship with them became more and more harmonious. My mother-in-law said I was closer than her daughter. What she said made me very happy within my heart. Thank God. It was God’s word that guided me to the correct direction. I had to follow the Lord carefully.
In 2008, a rare magnitude 8.2 earthquake struck China’s Wenchuan County. This sudden massive earthquake made me feel particularly scared and helpless. That was the first time that I had sensed the frailty of life. During a meeting, the pastor said to us, “Brothers and sisters, don’t be afraid.says: ‘And as he sat on the mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world?’ (Matthew 24:3). And ‘For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places’ (Matthew 24:7). Now, disasters are getting bigger and bigger, which shows that the days of God’s coming are imminent. We must watch and wait, uphold the Lord’s teachings and be ready to welcome the Lord that descends with the clouds to bring us into the kingdom of heaven at every moment.” And then, he also described to us how wonderful the kingdom of heaven was, in which there was no war, no disaster and no tears … After learning that one day in the future I would be brought into the heavenly kingdom by the Lord, I was very excited inside, my faith to follow the Lord was bigger and I had a new hope in my life.
Several years had gone by in the blink of an eye, and the Lord had still not come. However, the church had changed some: The young sisters in our church all worked away from their home in succession. The people left were all the illiterate aged ones. Listening to the pastor’s explaining the Bible repeatedly together with them every day, I felt I had no progress in spirit. Moreover, when I encountered difficulties and prayed to the Lord, I had no moving in my heart as before. I felt the church didn’t have the Lord’s presence. For fear that I would be forsaken by the Lord, I decided to go out to seek a church in which the Holy Spirit was at work. However, after I successively visited several churches, the situations I saw in these churches were the same as my church. I felt miserable, so I prayed to the Lord, “O Lord, where exactly are You? I beg You not to hide Your face from us. We really quite need You!” Although I often obsessively called upon the Lord just like this, I still couldn’t feel the Lord’s response. Thus, I felt more and more listless within my heart.
In a flash, a few years had passed. Some things happened to my family: My sister-in-law always had a problem with me and was always nitpicking at me. I felt very awful, but my husband required me to yield to her, which made me even more feel wronged. Thinking that the Lord required us to be meek and lowly, I strived not to argue. However, over time, I had more and more sufferings inside, thinking to myself: When will this come to an end if things keep that up? It is very clear that she purposely finds fault with me but my husband requires me to forbear. It is too hard. At that time, I always gazed to the sky and cried out to the Lord, “O Lord. Although I have kept Your words on appearance, I felt a deep sense of pain in my heart. O Lord, when could such days come to an end? Have You forgotten me?”
On New Year’s Day 2017, I came to Japan to work. Because it was an unfamiliar life and my language was not the same as the native language, when I dragged my exhausted body to my dormitory every night, I even more felt lonely in my heart. Every time this happened, I would come before the Lord and tell Him my difficulties within my heart. I prayed to God time and time again, hoping that I could find a church to worship Him together with brothers and sisters in the foreign country. Thank the Lord for hearing my prayers. Once, in chatting, I learned that there was a senior who was also a believer in the Lord in my unit, so I said to him that I wanted to attend the meetings together with him and his brothers and sisters. Later, the senior arranged for me to attend their online meetings.
In the meeting, when brothers and sisters asked me what my life in Japan was like and whether I had any difficulties, I felt especially warm inside. Right after that, we started talking about the Bible. A sister said, “In all my years of faith in the Lord Jesus, despite knowing that the Lord Jesus is, I don’t understand the truth of the incarnation. If the Lord’s appearance in the is similar to how the Lord Jesus was incarnated as the Son of man to do His work, how should we recognize the Lord Jesus and greet His coming?” Hearing this, Brother Wu fellowshiped with us, “When the Lord Jesus came to do work, He was born into a carpenter’s family. His food, clothing, housing and transportation were the same as normal people and He also grew up as normal people. This is God’s normal humanity. Later, when the Lord Jesus began to perform His ministry, He started to perform miracles: feeding five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish, making the blind see, making cripples walk, resurrecting the dead and so forth. From these things done by the Lord Jesus, we have recognized that He is God. So, although God incarnate looks just the same as us normal people in outward appearance, His substance is God. He is God’s Spirit coming in the flesh and this flesh has normal humanity and complete divinity. Therefore, if we want to know Christ, we have to investigate His work and word to see if that which He expresses is God’s own voice, if the words He expresses are manifestations of God’s disposition and all that God has and is, and see if the truth that He expresses and His work can save mankind. Only then can we know, accept, and obey Christ.” Brother Wu’s fellowship made me feel fresh and it was something that I had never heard of in the past. He continued fellowshiping, “However, when God came to do the work of the Age of Grace, the Pharisees didn’t know God’s work and didn’t acknowledge that the Lord Jesus was the incarnate God Himself. So, they nailed the Lord Jesus to the cross along with the Roman government. What’s their outcome in the end?” I shook my head and said I didn’t know. At that moment, Sister Cao coming to attend the meeting together with us said, “The Pharisees were cursed by God for resisting God and what came upon them was that Israel was subjugated.” Then, everyone talked about their own understanding. Hearing their fellowship, I thought: Why do they understand so much? In the past, the pastors and elders had never fellowshiped these truths. Having the meeting with them satisfied me much and made me feel very delighted as if I had again found the feeling of believing in the Lord at first. I waited for the next meeting with full expectation.
In the second meeting, Brother Wu asked me, “Are you longing for the Lord’s return?” I answered, “Of course! I look forward to the Lord’s arrival every day and it has been so many years.” He asked me again, “Then when will the Lord come?” I said bluntly and quickly, “It is soon.are all being fulfilled. So, God will be back soon. We have to vigilantly wait.” He smiled and said, “Yes. We should be the wise virgins to vigilantly wait.” However, referring to the Lord’s return, I had some concerns. Thus, I said, “In fact, I feel very confused in my heart. I sense that I just keep the Lord’s words on the outside because when I practiced His words, my heart was full of grievances and complaints, not readily practicing His words at all. I think the Lord will not be pleased in me.” After hearing what I said, he fellowshiped, “Now, we are all in such a situation: Although we know the Lord’s demands, we are unable to practice them. And we are still being bound by sin, living a life of sinning and confessing.” And then, he gave me a vivid parable: “Our sins are just like Chinese chives which will grow again after cutting them once. It is just because the source of our sins has not been removed.” Hearing this, I asked him, “Then, can people like us enter the kingdom of heaven and face the Lord on earth?” He sent me a passage of word, “A sinner such as you, who has just been redeemed, and has not been changed, or been perfected by God, can you be after God’s heart? For you, you who are still of your old self, it is true that you were saved by Jesus, and that you are not counted as a sinner because of the salvation of God, but this does not prove that you are not sinful, and are not impure. How can you be saintly if you have not been changed? Within, you are beset by impurity, selfish and mean, yet you still wish to descend with Jesus—you should be so lucky! You have missed a step in your belief in God: You have merely been redeemed, but have not been changed. For you to be after God’s heart, God must personally do the work of changing and cleansing you; if you are only redeemed, you will be incapable of attaining sanctity. In this way you will be unqualified to share in the good blessings of God, for you have missed out a step in God’s work of managing man, which is the key step of changing and perfecting. And so you, a sinner who has just been redeemed, are incapable of directly inheriting God’s inheritance” (“Concerning Appellations and Identity”). Looking at these words, I was very upset within as if I was stuck by needles. I thought: Do these words not refer to me? I am filthy, selfish and despicable, and moreover I haven’t been purified. Then, can I, such a corrupt man, enter the heavenly kingdom? Is that I think of how to get into the kingdom of heaven every day really my own wishful thinking? Are all of these I am looking forward to just a dream?
The brother continued to fellowship, “God is faithful. He will not abandon us. As a matter of fact, there are three stages in God’s work of saving us. In the Age of Law, God’s use of Moses to decree laws let people understand what sin was and how to keep the law so that they could not sin. By the end of the Age of Law, because we people were corrupted by Satan more and more deeply, it was very difficult for us people to keep the law. Thus, we people were facing the danger of being condemned and put to death by the law. For the sake of saving us, God became flesh for the first time to be nailed to the cross for us and did the work of absolution. Because of the Lord’s redemption, our sins are forgiven. But the root of our sins still remains within us, we still continually sin. So, if we want to thoroughly remove the root of our sins, we need God to come again to do the work of removing the root of our sins. Only then can we be purified and qualified to see the Lord’s face.”
Hearing what the brother fellowshiped, I suddenly became clear-headed: I always feel that I am unfit to see the Lord but I don’t know how to change. Now, I understand: Turns out that only after the sinful nature of us is cast away, and we are changed and purified by God, can we see the Lord’s face. Oh, God is too wisdom. I felt that a heavy stone had fallen from my heart all at once. Thus, I asked the brother, “How does the Lord remove the root of our sins within us?” He answered, “Actually, God has already been incarnated as the image of the Son of man and has returned. He speaks words and does His work of judgment and chastisement, that is, the work of judgment beginning at the house of God said in the Bible.” When I heard the brother said the Lord has come and moreover He is God incarnate, I was suddenly shocked. Later, I was even unable to listen to the brother’s following fellowship no matter what he said. I started to feel shaken inside: I have longed for the Lord’s coming for so many years in China but I still haven’t welcomed His return. Now, you tell me the Lord has already come. How could that be? In addition, the Bible clearly records that God will come as He departed. The Lord Jesus left upon a cloud, so how could He become flesh when He comes? My heart was full of confusion and I couldn’t quiet myself any more. Therefore, I hurried to pray to God, “O God, now the brother is testifying that You have returned and moreover have been incarnated to do Your work. Can I accept it? What should I do? I beg You to enlighten me and guide me.”