By Xu Ning, Japan
Influenced by such ideas as “Knowledge can change your fate,” “the size of one’s field determines the size of their harvest” and “One’s destiny is in his own hand,” I began to seek knowledge, as if the more knowledge I had, the more wonderful the future I would have. Therefore, entering a good university, finding a good job and leading my ideal life were my aims and, even more so, my parents’ expectations.
When I was in ninth grade, I became a Christian. However, I didn’t understand enough truths, so when it came to God’s words, “God presides over the fate of all mankind,” I was always half-believing, half-doubting. And I was fettered by the notion that “One’s destiny is in his own hands.”
My dad was a college graduate and often told me about his educational experiences to encourage me. Through his educational influence, gaining entry into a good university became the main goal of my studying hard. Thus, I began to attend a variety of supplementary classes. Regardless of whether it was summer vacation or winter vacation, I would have a full schedule. My vacations were almost fully occupied with all kinds of courses, such as math, English, essay composition, physics, chemistry, and so on. After several years of hard work, I was able to enter a prestigious high school. In my junior year of high school, in order to improve my future prospects, my parents decided to arrange for me to go abroad for further studies. At that time, I also had the same idea, and hoped to get into a good university by my own efforts and have a good future. Eventually, I chose to study in Japan.
In Japan, except for living the church life, I devoted all my time to studies. I dreamed of getting into a good university by my own efforts. The study pressure was heavy, and I rushed around every day and never slacked off. From Monday through Friday, I attended classes in the mornings in a school where they conducted classes in Japanese, and then went to remedial class in the evenings; every Saturday and Sunday, I would study Japanese economics, politics, history, geography, math…. This heavy schedule went on for one year, and then it was time to register for university matriculation.
I applied for admission to two prestigious universities and a language academy without any hesitation. I applied for the popular economics degree courses at the two universities. I thought: “If I can get into one of them, my future will surely be filled with unlimited potential.” After that, I made full preparations for the examinations. I first anticipated some potential topics for the interviews, wrote my answers, discussed them with my teachers and then made corresponding modifications. I studied in the self-study classroom till around 8 or 9 p.m. every day, until I had over twenty potential topics thoroughly covered. But I never expected that the teacher at the first university would break with the norm. It was supposed to be an interview in Japanese, yet the teacher asked us to answer the questions in English. On hearing that, I was shocked because my spoken English was poor. So I answered in very broken English. Seeing the others speak English quite fluently, I knew that it was impossible for me to pass the interview.
So I placed my hope on the second university. This interview went very smoothly; however, as I didn’t keep an eye on the time in the written examination, I had to finish my composition in a hurry. Though I was a little worried about my exam results, I still held onto a ray of hope. Then I sat for the academy exams, which wasn’t my first choice. Several days later, to my surprise, I was informed that I had won admittance to the academy but not to the two universities. I felt disappointed and distressed at this news. Despite being unwilling, I was unable to do anything about it as I had no choice but to go to the academy. I told my dad my decision, but he, who always said he would respect my choice regardless of which school I went to, didn’t like my decision. He said tactfully that he hoped I could get into university and have a good job and good prospects. Hearing this, I began to waver. Then I went on the Internet and searched for information, and discovered that there was faint hope that I would get a good job with just an associate diploma from an academy. As a result, I gave up on the academy. Soon afterward, I applied to the same university as my roommates, and resolutely chose economics again because it offered good prospects. But after many days and nights of hard work, I failed the entrance exam again. Faced with this outcome, I was very unwilling to accept it and couldn’t help but complain: “Why did I study so hard but could not get what I want? Why do I always fail?”
During a meeting one time, a sister could see the situation I was in, so she found a passage offor me to read, “People’s desires are so perfect, but when people take their first steps in the journey of their lives, they gradually come to realize how imperfect human destiny is, and for the first time they truly grasp the fact that, though one can make bold plans for one’s future, though one may harbor audacious fantasies, no one has the ability or the power to realize his or her own dreams, no one is in a position to control his or her own future. There will always be some distance between one’s dreams and the realities that one must confront; things are never as one would like them to be, and faced with such realities people can never achieve satisfaction or contentment. Some people will even go to any length imaginable, will put forth great efforts and make great sacrifices for the sake of their livelihoods and future, in attempt to change their own fate. But in the end, even if they can realize their dreams and desires by means of their own hard work, they can never change their fates, and no matter how doggedly they try they can never exceed what destiny has allotted them. … What occupation one pursues, what one does for a living, and how much wealth one amasses in life are not decided by one’s parents, one’s talents, one’s efforts or one’s ambitions, but are predetermined by the Creator” (“God Himself, the Unique III”). “The fate of man is controlled by the hands of God. You are incapable of controlling yourself: Despite always rushing and busying about for himself, man remains incapable of controlling himself. If you could know your own prospects, if you could control your own fate, would you still be a creature?” (“Restoring the Normal Life of Man and Taking Him to a Wonderful Destination”).
After finishing reading God’s words, I seemed to awaken instantly: I was only one of His creatures and everything in my life was indeed in God’s hands. My getting into a university would be controlled and arranged by God. I wanted to get into a famous university, get a good diploma and find a good job. But all these were merely my wishes, my dreams. Whether they could be realized was not under my control but was predestined by God.
Later, through the fellowshiping of the brothers and sisters and my mom, I realized more and more that I had always lived by the satanic, poisonous notions of “the size of one’s field determines the size of their harvest” and “One’s destiny is in one’s own hand.” I had rebelled and gone against God time and again. I always wanted to do something successful by means of my own hard work. Even when I failed, I was not afraid; I rose up again after each setback, and fought against fate again and again. But then it got to the point where I only had one month or so left on my visa, and if I still didn’t get into a school I would have to return home. Not until then did I come to pray before God, “O God. All my affairs are in Your hands. I’m unwilling to rebel against You, or kick and struggle, any longer. Living like this feels too painful. Now I’m willing to give this matter entirely to You and let You rule over and arrange it. No matter what the consequence is, even if I have to return home, I shall be willing to submit to it. I believe what You give me is the best.”
This time, I didn’t choose universities with economic courses, as I preferred, but instead applied to two other universities on my teacher’s recommendation. I didn’t make full preparations for the exams because of not having sufficient time. Afterward, I learnt that one of the two universities required students to study Buddhist philosophy in the first year. I am a Christian, so I quickly gave up on this university. Thus I had one university left. I was kind of nervous thinking about the exam. The test location was far away, and on the day of the exam when I checked the route in the tram, I found the tram I was on didn’t go to the test location. So I had to take another tram, one I had never taken before. I became very anxious and hurriedly prayed to God silently in my heart: “O God, may You help me. Will I miss the exam? If this happens, I’m willing to obey You without complaint.” Thank God: It all went smoothly when I went to the station to get the tram.
After getting on the tram, I began to feel more secure. Yet I suddenly found that my cell phone was gone. I was on the edge of tears. An older lady next to me said, “You’re on the right tram. It’s this one.” I said with a forced smile, “Yeah. But I left my cell phone at the station.” I thought: “It’s just one thing after another today. God, what should I do?” In panic, I could do nothing but pray to and rely on God. To my surprise the older lady next to me was very helpful. She not only helped me contact the ticket office, but also arranged with the ticket seller that I could fetch my phone when I went back. I couldn’t stop thanking God in my heart. I thanked Him for arranging things and people to help me. Though it was not smooth sailing, when I arrived at the test location, there was still a half-hour left until the exam. Standing outside of the exam hall, I thought about everything that had just happened. The things that I considered to be bad in the end turned out OK. I hadunknowingly, for I now understood no matter what kind of situation I face, God is by my side and helps me when I call to Him. While I was waiting, when I got nervous I would say to myself, “I don’t need to be afraid. God is by my side.” Later on, the interview went smoothly, beyond my expectations. The questions the teachers asked were all the stuff I knew. I knew that was God’s arrangement. I praised His deeds silently in my heart.
After a few days, I got my exam results: I’d passed. When I successfully got the offer from the university, knowing it was bestowed by God I gave thanks to Him from the bottom of my heart. Compared to getting into university, what made me more excited was that I got much more knowledge of God. It was God who let me learn to rely on Him, look up to and obey Him in all things. I felt what He arranges for each of us is always the most suitable thing, and it also makes us feel very free.
Thinking back, I, who had been devoted to studying as a child, clearly knew from God’s words that “God presides over the fate of all mankind,” but I was still not willing to believe in His words. On the contrary, I was constantly in opposition to Him and always wanted to get everything I wanted by myself. At that moment, I felt like I had done something wrong and then I thought of God’s words, “The sadness of man is not that man seeks happy life, not that he pursues fame and fortune or struggles against his own fate through the fog, but that after he has seen the Creator’s existence, after he has learned the fact that the Creator has sovereignty over human fate, he still cannot mend his ways, cannot pull his feet out of the mire, but hardens his heart and persists in his errors. He would rather keep thrashing in the mud, vying obstinately against the Creator’s sovereignty, resisting it until the bitter end, without the slightest shred of contrition, and only when he lies broken and bleeding does he at last decide to give up and turn back. This is true human sorrow. So I say, those who choose to submit are wise, and those who choose to escape are pig-headed” (“God Himself, the Unique III”). I had been single-minded in my pursuit of entering into university, and had dreamed of getting something that didn’t belong to me through my own endeavors. I applied again and again, yet I ended up disappointed and sad time after time. I was fully aware that human fate is ordained by Heaven, but I was absolutely unwilling to repent and still desired to realize my dreams by myself. Through this experience, I truly came to appreciate that our fate is in God’s hands and that He has made suitable arrangements for each of us. Thinking of the three universities I applied to, I wanted to major in economics and administration, which I thought would lead to a promising career. But in fact, if I’d done these subjects would they have been put to good use in the future? I was not at all sure. Would I have engaged in a career related to economics? I was not sure either. Would my life go exactly according to my plans? The answer was no.
My dad studied architecture in college, but now runs a store selling cigarettes and liquor. He runs around doing business every day, but it is completely unconnected to architecture. All of this is proof that God’s authority and predestination cannot be bypassed by anyone. Entering this university is part of God’s sovereignty and arrangement. The Japanese I have learnt is of use to me, and it is also a skill that will belong to me forever. I can use it not merely to read Japanese books, but most importantly, to spread the gospel, testify to God and fulfill my duty as a created creature, which are the most glorious things. I eventually experienced that what God arranges for us is the best and most suitable thing for us. Thanks be to Almighty God!
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