By Xiaohe, Singapore
“Enjoy life while you can, for who knows what tomorrow might bring?” In society nowadays, many people believe that life is there to be enjoyed. They cannot help but indulge in smoking, drinking, gambling and going to karaoke bars and so on, but what is undeniable is that, though the flesh may feel enjoyment and satisfaction at the time, the spirit feels empty and pained. Could the meaning of life be just eating, drinking and making merry? How are we supposed to free ourselves from this empty and degenerate life and find a genuine life? I was so lost and befuddled before, but I have now found the answer.
My Life of “Enjoying Life While I Can”
I remember that my parents both really enjoyed playing cards and playing mahjong, and they would often play all night. They would also often say, “Enjoy life while you can, for who knows what tomorrow might bring?” I totally agreed with this saying, thinking that we may as well enjoy ourselves in life which, after all, is only a few decades long! And so, smoking, drinking, playing cards and playing mahjong took up almost all of my time.
I carried on this way after I got married. My wife was very addicted to cards, as I was. She would often play during the day, whereas I would often play all night long and then come home in the early morning to sleep, only to begin the cycle again the next afternoon. We had a child, but I still didn’t cut back. I would spend very little time with my son, and sometimes I would feel like I owed him, feeling like I wasn’t caring for him enough nor spending enough time with him. Because I was too addicted to gambling, however, I paid no heed to my son’s feelings. Apart from work, I spent all my time with my friends, eating, drinking, and making merry. Sometimes I would wonder whether this life really was any good, but seeing that everyone else around me was living in just the same way, I would just calmly carry on enjoying that way of life.
In 2012, a relative and I went abroad to work for six months, and when I returned to China, I discovered that my wife had begun believing in Almighty God, and that she no longer played cards. Disdainfully, I said to her, “Don’t we live a good life already? We eat what we want, we drink what we want, we play mahjong all day, we are happy and carefree, and we can make money doing it. It’s so great! What do you want to go andfor?” My wife remained unmoved and continued to believe in God. She also spoke to me about matters of , but I didn’t listen at all, and thought to myself: “You believe in God and I’ll play my games. As long as you take care of our home and our child and your belief doesn’t interfere with my fun, then that’s fine.”
It’s Hard to Conceal the Emptiness in My Spirit
And so, I carried on playing cards, going to karaoke bars and massage parlors and so on, just as I had before. Sometimes I would get falling-down drunk and would often not make it back home. Early one morning, I finished a card game and went home, feeling elated and counting a stack of hundred-yuan bills. I hadn’t realized I’d won so much. Feeling pleased with myself, I put the money away and lay down on the bed to sleep, but instead I tossed and turned and found it hard to sleep. It was the dead of night and everything was quiet. As I listened to the ticktock of the clock and watched my soundly sleeping wife, I couldn’t help but think about my life of eating, drinking and merrymaking: Although my cravings were satisfied and I always enjoyed it and felt very happy at the time, afterward I would always feel listless and empty in my spirit.
In particular, later on, because I had spent so many years playing games all night long and my life had no regular pattern to it, I became ill with a stomach sickness and with insomnia. I would often be unable to sleep at night, and I experienced my fill of the bitter suffering insomnia brings. Sometimes, I would think about how I now had everything I had sought in life, and would wonder why these things hadn’t brought me any happiness and joy, but on the contrary had made me feel increasingly empty, with a mind filled with worry and pain. I thought about how my wife had been just the same as me, but ever since she had begun to believe in God, she no longer played cards or mahjong. She often read God’s words and attended church meetings, and in her energy and appearance, she was like a completely new person from what she had been like before. Her humanity and the life she lived out were getting better all the time, she always did things in an orderly way, she prayed to God with whatever issues arose, and her life was enriched. I would sometimes envy my wife, and think: “Should I join my wife in believing in God?”
But back in real life, I couldn’t help but be influenced by the people around me, and I had no strength to free myself from such a degenerate life. At Chinese New Year in 2017, I returned home from working away and all my friends asked me to hit the streets with them looking for people to gamble with, and every day we shuttled back and forth between such places of entertainment as karaoke bars, mahjong parlors and gambling dens. At the time, I still thought how great it all was, that I could both make money and have fun at the same time. But as time went on, I saw that the gambling places were filled with deception and that every one of them had someone pulling the strings behind the scenes. They were entirely unscrupulous in plotting against people, and many lost all their money and even their homes, so that, in the end, they didn’t even have anywhere to live anymore. And in karaoke bars, every man, whether he was a business owner or one of his guests, liked to have fun with the hostess girls and indulge their physical lusts; it was so sordid and filthy, and they completely lost all their humanity and morals. I would spend all day, eating, drinking, and making merry with my friends and living a drunken, intoxicated life. Although my wallet was bulging with money and I was enjoying physical pleasures, yet I still didn’t feel happy or joyful at all. Instead, I felt pained and empty in my heart, always with a sense of indescribable fear, and I didn’t feel safe at all; I just really wanted to be rid of such places. Sometimes, I would think about how I spent all day wallowing in some places of entertainment or other and that, under the influence of such places, I was living less and less like a human being, much less did I possess any humanity. Comparing my behavior with my wife’s after she had begun to believe in God, I really wanted to be like her, and so the idea to join my wife in her belief in God took root in my mind.
The Root Cause of Pain and Emptiness
One day, a sister from the church came to our home, and I said to her, “Can I join you in believing in God?” She replied, “Of course you can!” The sister then arranged for us to attend church meetings. During a fellowship at a meeting, the sister read a passage of God’s words: “A world in man’s heart with no place for God is dark, empty without hope. And so arose many social scientists, historians, and politicians to express theories of social science, the theory of human evolution, and other theories that contravene the truth that God created man, to fill the heart and mind of man. And in this way, those who believe that God created everything become ever fewer, and those who believe in the theory of evolution become ever greater in number. 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.”
The sister then gave fellowship, saying, “God’s words reveal the root cause of mankind’s emptiness and pain. Ever since mankind was corrupted by Satan, we have had no place for God in our hearts and we have grown farther and farther from God. Satan therefore uses all kinds of famous and great people to give voice to ideologies and views which deceive people, such as atheism, evolutionism and materialism. Under the influence of these fallacies, we deny the existence of God and seek only after material enjoyments, we live in an empty world of eating, drinking and merrymaking, we indulge in smoking, drinking, gambling, and going to karaoke bars and so on, until ultimately we lose God’s care and protection. Although our standard of living is better now, and various forms of recreation are emerging all the time, what is undeniable is that, while we are deriving material enjoyments and physical satisfaction, our spirits are feeling empty and pained, and we are not living happily or joyfully. There are some people who, after they have enjoyed themselves wildly, they feel an indescribable emptiness in their spirit. So as to fill this feeling of emptiness, they continue to seek stimulation, but still they feel empty and alone, without any joy in their lives at all. There are also some people who, while they are deriving material enjoyments, the emptiness in their spirits impels them to seek even greater physical satisfaction, and so they go gambling and even take drugs. In the end, because they are unable to escape the pain and emptiness in their spirits, they just go ahead and kill themselves to put an end to their lives. It is clear, therefore, that no matter how people seek to satisfy their physical desires, they cannot escape the pain nor fill the emptiness in their spirits. This is because we human beings were created by God, and only God can meet our spiritual needs; without God in our hearts, we will only be able to live being harmed by Satan and will be unable to escape our pain. Now, God has become flesh and has come amongst us. In the light of our needs as corrupt mankind, He expresses His words and performs the work of judgment and purification to save us once and for all from this spiritual pain and emptiness. Therefore, only by coming before God, accepting the provision of God’s words and living by God’s words can our spirits feel at peace and at ease. Then, the problem of spiritual emptiness will naturally be resolved.”
Both God’s words and the sister’s fellowship struck deep into my heart. For years, I’d been living a life of eating, drinking and merrymaking, and although my material desires had been satiated, yet my spirit felt empty and I could never find the way to resolve it. Now, God’s words had revealed the root cause of my problem: It was all because we human beings have been corrupted by Satan. Because we have strayed far from God, we have naturally come to live a life of emptiness and pain. “I must come before God,” I thought to myself, “and I must accept the supply of life God has for me, read God’s words more and understand the truth, for only by doing that will I be able to rid myself of the terrible worry caused by this emptiness.”
Why We Indulge in Eating, Drinking and Merrymaking
During a church meeting, the sister read two passages of God’s words to me: “Born into such a filthy land, man has been severely blighted by society, he has been influenced by feudal ethics, and he has been taught at ‘institutes of higher learning.’ The backward thinking, corrupt morality, mean view on life, despicable philosophy, utterly worthless existence, and depraved lifestyle and customs—all of these things have severely intruded upon man’s heart, and severely undermined and attacked his conscience. As a result, man is ever more distant from God, and ever more opposed to Him. Man’s disposition becomes more vicious by the day, and there is not a single person who will willingly give up anything for God, not a single person who will willingly obey God, nor, moreover, a single person who will willingly seek the appearance of God. Instead, under the domain of Satan, man does nothing but pursue pleasure, giving himself over to the corruption of the flesh in the land of mud.” “In truth, out of the myriad things in God’s creation, man is the lowest. Though he is the master of all things, man is the only one among them that is subject to Satan’s trickery, the only one that falls prey in endless ways to its corruption. Man has never had sovereignty over himself. Most people live in the foul place of Satan, and suffer its derision; it teases them this way and that till they are half alive, enduring every vicissitude, every hardship in the human world. After toying with them, Satan puts an end to their destiny.”
The sister gave fellowship, saying, “God’s words reveal the root cause of why so many people all live a degenerate life of eating, drinking and merrymaking, and it is because of the social trends Satan has given rise to and the satanic ideas and axioms it instills in us, such as, ‘Seize the day for pleasure, for life is short,’ ‘Life is short. Enjoy it while you can,’[B1] ‘Enjoy life while you can, for who knows what tomorrow might bring,’ and ‘Life is just about eating and dressing.’[B2] Under the influence of these fallacious views, our ideas and views become increasingly rotten and degenerate. We believe that, because people live in this world only for a few decades, we should therefore allow ourselves to eat well, dress well and enjoy the moment, and that that is the best life we can possibly live. We regard gluttonizing for our flesh as the proper pursuit in life, and so we begin to focus on eating, drinking, and merrymaking. Our lives then degenerate more and more, and we end up being dragged down deeper and deeper into a whirlpool of sin. In society nowadays in particular, there are all manner of places for recreation, places to sing, places to dance, bars, and so on, which give people places to facilitate the indulgence of their flesh. Because we are without the truth and are unable to tell the difference between positive and negative things, we believe that going to karaoke bars, drinking bars, and massage parlors, and playing cards, and so on, is all totally normal. Many people enjoy and find satisfaction in this kind of drunken, intoxicated life, but they are unable to see clearly that behind it all lie Satan’s cunning schemes and its desire to harm people. For example, because some people are unable to resist the temptation of these places of entertainment, they engage in extramarital affairs, and their families end up broken and scattered; because some people eat and drink without restraint and indulge their flesh, they ultimately cause themselves all manner of sickness and pain; because some people are infatuated with gambling, they end up losing all their money and bringing their families to ruin; and then there are some people who, because they spend their lives only eating, drinking and making merry, and have no idea of what is right, they end up losing their careers and their families, and they live as something neither human nor ghost. These are just a few examples of the effect this kind of life can have on people. It is therefore evident that the evil trends of Satan seduce us bit by bit into walking that path of no return of sin, degeneracy, and even death. This is not the right path to walk.”
As I listened to God’s words and the sister’s fellowship, I understood that such sayings as “Seize the day for pleasure, for life is short,”[B3] and “Enjoy life today, for who knows what tomorrow might bring,” are all wrong views on life which come from Satan. Because I had been deeply influenced by evil trends, I had aimed only to satisfy my physical desires and lead a life of pleasure, drinking, gambling, going from one place of entertainment to another, living a drunken, intoxicated life, with no time even to spend with my wife or my child. The result of all this had been nothing but pain, and not only had I developed a stomach illness and insomnia, but my spirit had felt unsupported and empty. Only now did I understand that all this pain had been caused by the evil trends of Satan, and I no longer wished to live such a decadent life.
The sister then showed me some written articles and videos about how some brothers and sisters had lived empty, degenerate lives before, and about how they had come before God and received His salvation, and I was so inspired by them. Seeing how incisively God’s words revealed the corrupt state of mankind and the current condition of the life of mankind, my heart felt filled with light, and I felt motivated and resolved to escape this current condition and no longer live a decadent life of eating, drinking and merrymaking.
I Rid Myself of My Degenerate Life
One day, a friend called me up and asked me to go out with him, but I made an excuse and said I was too busy. After making excuses like this many times, I gradually separated myself from my circle of friends and distanced myself from that life of eating, drinking, fun and gambling. Sometimes, however, I couldn’t restrain myself from going out, but every time I went to that kind of entertainment place, I would feel uncomfortable, and couldn’t even drink alcohol. As soon as I started to drink any, I felt distressed and wanted to vomit. Just then, I realized that it was God trying to stop me from drinking. And so, I came before God and prayed: “O God! I know that behaving in this way is at odds with Your will, but I can’t get over coming to these places. Please can You help me to rid myself of this situation.”
Later, I read God’s words, “is very detailed. He very carefully observes people’s every word and action, their every act and move, and their every thought and idea so that people can gain internal awareness of these things. You do something once and it goes awry, you do it again and it still goes awry, and gradually you will come to understand the work of the Holy Spirit. Through many times of being disciplined, you will know what to do to be in line with God’s will and what is not in line with His will. In the end, you will have accurate responses to the Holy Spirit’s guidance from within you.” After reading God’s words, I understood a little about the ways in which the Holy Spirit works. When we do something that is at odds with God’s will, God uses some people, events or things to remind us and even to discipline us, so that we may understand God’s will and be able to repent and follow the right path. Although I wanted to be rid of my past degenerate life, many times I was unable to overcome the temptation and would still be unable to stop myself from going out to such places. God therefore used the discomfort I felt to try to stop me time and time again, to guide me to be rid of the harm of Satan, and to help me be free of that degenerate and rotten life—this was God showing me His love.
Once I’d understood God’s will, I no longer wanted to fool around with my good-time friends, and so I left those places of entertainment behind and found a new job. After work, I would go home and spend time with my son, listen to sermons, and watch videos, sketches and movies produced by the church. As time went on, my life found a regular pattern, my health got a lot better, and I felt at peace and at ease. After a period of investigation, I became totally certain that only the words of Almighty God can change our corrupt dispositions and allow us to live out a human likeness, and I decided that I wanted to pursue dispositional change and become a genuine human being.
After I accepted God’s work, I thought about how I might be persecuted in China by the CCP government and about how there is no freedom of religion there, and so my wife and I discussed going abroad to work. Once we got to Singapore, I regularly took part in the church life, and in my spare time I read God’s words and watched all kinds of programs produced by the church, and I felt that these programs were very helpful and beneficial to my life. At the same time, I performed my duty in the church to the best of my abilities.
My experiences taught me that the true meaning of life has nothing to do with how much material wealth one has, much less has it anything to do with eating, drinking and merrymaking to satisfy one’s flesh. Instead, we gain the truth from God’s words and live to do God’s will, and only this is a worthy, meaningful life. In particular, when I saw many brothers and sisters in the church not pursuing that life of eating, drinking and merrymaking like the people in society, but instead steadfastly pursuing the truth, performing their duties, spreading God’s kingdom gospel and living a life of increasing spiritual liberation, I felt incredibly moved. I also came to realize that what I should be doing most of all was reading God’s words, understanding the truth in God’s words, developing my discernment, saying farewell to the wrong outlook on life of eating, drinking and merrymaking that I had held in the past, pursuing the truth, living out a genuine human likeness, and performing the duty of a created being in order to satisfy God.
Now, by reading God’s words, that feeling of emptiness I used to have is gone, and in my heart I feel a sense of freedom and release I have never felt before! From the bottom of my heart, I know that this is the only life worth pursuing, and this is the only true life for a human being. That I have been able to change as I have today is entirely due to the grace of God! Thanks be to Almighty God!
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