Shake Off the Emptiness, Find a Pure Land for the Soul

By Amu

When I was young, there were patches of green fields outside my house, beside which stood a big locust tree. The sun shining brilliantly through the leaves, the sky was so blue and the water so clear. Breathing the fresh air, hearing the sounds of clucking, quacking, gaggling, and my playmates’ laughter, I didn’t have a care in the world. I still remember once I mistook the bean seedlings for pigweed and cut a row of them; as I was afraid of being scolded by the owner and my parents, my playmates gave me some pigweed to cover up; looking at the bean seedlings which were ruined by me, we all laughed mischievously.

After getting to middle school, I still lived simply, not knowing what worry or anxiety was. One day a classmate asked me to run an errand for her. When I came back, she laughed at me before others: “Look at her. Don’t you think she is an idiot? I told her to buy something and she actually did as I said. She is so easy to manipulate.” Looking at their mocking faces, I was stunned. Turns out I was silly to help others obediently. In that age, students of my age all pursued to be unique and honest country ones like me were often considered not cool. Hurt by this matter, I began to focus on maintaining my own face and image, like birds value their feathers.

High school years were our busiest time. Teachers and parents always taught us that “Knowledge can change your fate.” Under the influence of this thought, we were full of vigor and studied hard day and night, believing that through studying we would obtain whatever we wanted. At that time, the only objective that we yearned for was to attend a good university. All of us competed for places with each other; poor students were always looked down upon, while the excellent ones were held up as examples. Though not having stepped into the society, I knew a little of the competitive world. From that point on, the awareness of struggling for fame and gain took root and sprouted in my heart.

After entering college, we were relatively relaxed, not having many courses or much stress. However, as our life was less intense and busy, we, once simple and ignorant, became degenerate and indulged ourselves as we pleased: The girls were gorgeously dressed to attend various parties, associating with the opposite sex in Internet bars and KTV, and some of them even ate the “forbidden fruit” without scruple; the boys skipped class and engaged in fighting, smoking, drinking and playing games. My fantasies about the beautiful life on campus were shattered by the harsh reality, and I never expected that our years of struggle didn’t bring us joy, but emptiness, helplessness, and endless indulgence. We, once innocent and romantic, lost the direction of life, not knowing where to go. At the time, in order to establish my image among others and gain a firm foothold in college, I learned to fight, to contend, to disguise myself, and to use philosophies of life to deal with others; but meanwhile, I lost my original innocence and began to look at all things through the spectacles of personal selfishness. Many times when I walked on the campus, I would look up to the sky, asking myself: Is this really the life that I want?

Just like this, I muddled through the university years; then I stepped into the society and found a job according to my strengths. With time passing by, I came in contact with more and more people, experiencing more and more things, and my life also became very busy. From dawn to dusk, I was engaged in my work and various kinds of exams, which temporarily distracted me from the helplessness in my heart. For the sake of establishing myself in the company and getting promotion and pay rise, I learned to be cunning. I felt as if I wore a mask every day; when faced with different people, I agonized over how to speak and act to protect my own interests and avoid making enemies. Only after going home at night, removing the “mask,” turning off the computer and cellphone, and shutting myself off from the world, could I breathe a sigh of relief, but then I would be enveloped by endless emptiness and perplexity. I often asked myself: Why did I become such a selfish person? Why do I live in falsehoods? What’s exactly the meaning of life? And how long do I have to live like this? These questions kept bothering me and no one could give me the answer. I felt like I was a lonely boat drifting in the sea, and there was no harbor for me to rest.

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People often say that “Life is like a play.” Acting with a mask in the theater of life, I was tired, so much so that I just wanted to have a good rest and forsake the whole world to find the lost pure land for my soul. Just when I was in agony, my friend preached the gospel of God’s salvation of the last days to me. I heard the Creator’s voice, which made me finally see a ray of light in the dark abyss. God’s words tell me: “When one has parents, one believes that one’s parents are everything; when one has property, one thinks that money is one’s mainstay, that it is one’s asset in life; when people have status, they cling tightly to it and would risk their lives for its sake. … Fame and fortune one gains in the material world give one temporary satisfaction, passing pleasure, a false sense of ease, and make one lose one’s way. And so people, as they thrash about in the vast sea of humanity, craving peace, comfort, and tranquility of heart, are subsumed again and again beneath the waves. When people have yet to figure out the questions that it is most crucial to understand—where they come from, why they are alive, where they are going, and so forth—they are seduced by fame and fortune, misled, controlled by them, irrevocably lost. Time flies; years pass in an eyeblink; before one realizes it, one has bid farewell to the best years of one’s life. … Though the various survival skills that people spend their lives mastering can offer an abundance of material comforts, they never bring one’s heart true peace and consolation” (“God Himself, the Unique III”).

God’ words explain the reasons of our spiritual emptiness so clearly: As we all live by the thought and the rules of life instilled by Satan, we have been struggling desperately for survival, fame and fortune, and various desires in our hearts, whether in school or society. When we possessed abundance of material comforts, our flesh might be temporarily satisfied, but the emptiness and helplessness in our hearts were still unresolved; and then we continued to struggle. Gradually, we were controlled by the material desires, unable to clearly discern what we truly wanted and what is good and what is evil, but just drifting along. As a result, many people, as soon as they had money, began to indulge in eating, drinking, and pleasures; some even took drugs to seek excitement, yet still lived in emptiness, and then they chose suicide to end the pain. Our life seems to have entered a vicious circle. Maybe only after we enter old age can we clearly see that what we’ve pursued all our life not only can’t bring us spiritual comforts, but makes us get further and further away from God, and lose the pure land for our soul. But it will be too late by then. So exactly how should we live to shake off the emptiness of our hearts?

God words say: “The first thing one must understand, when one sets foot on this earth, is where human beings come from, why people are alive, who dictates human fate, who provides for and has sovereignty over human existence. These are the true assets in life, the essential basis for human survival, not learning how to provide for one’s family or how to achieve fame and wealth, not learning how to stand out from the crowd or how to live a more affluent life, much less learning how to excel and to compete successfully against others. … If one views life as an opportunity to experience the Creator’s sovereignty and come to know His authority, if one sees one’s life as a rare chance to perform one’s duty as a created human being and to fulfill one’s mission, then one will necessarily have the correct outlook on life, will live a life blessed and guided by the Creator, will walk in the light of the Creator, know the Creator’s sovereignty, come under His dominion” (“God Himself, the Unique III”).

Reading God’s words, I felt I finally found the pure land for my soul, like a boat having drifted long in the sea finally found a harbor to rest, and the grass enjoyed a good rain after a long drought; after so many twists and turns, my life had a favorable turn. I deeply felt it was God’s predestination, for if I hadn’t experienced some bitterness and emptiness in life, I wouldn’t treasure the hard-obtained salvation. So, I believed in God without hesitation.

Now, apart from work, I spend most of time enjoying the church life with my brothers and sisters. They are from different places and all walks of life and used to live under Satan’s dark influence, struggling for fame and fortune, status and desire. It’s God’s words that awoke our numb hearts, and it’s God’s actual work that has saved us, leading us to walk out of Satan’s trap step by step. Through reading God’s words and experiencing His work, I came to understand that only by seeking the truth, practicing the truth, gaining the truth, and achieving an understanding of God, can we live a valuable life. Now, I’m spreading and testifying to God’s salvation with my brothers and sisters. Although we no longer possess high status or plenty of money, we have more time to pursue the truth thanks to God’s grace. In the past, we’ve wasted too much time; now coming before God and living by His words, we feel enriched and satisfied, and no longer have to compete against or suspect each other for interests, nor do we fear the ever greater disasters. It’s so good to have the presence and guidance of God. This kind of life is just the deep-seated need of our heart and the pure land I’ve been looking for.

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