Fame, Fortune Are Stumbling Blocks to Happiness
Since a young age, my parents always taught me, “You must study hard and get into a good university like your cousins. We look forward to your making a distinguished name for yourself and bringing honor and glory to our ancestors.” For this, my parents signed me up for many classes of supplementary schooling and found great teachers to teach me. In order to achieve their desires, I studied very hard. However, no matter how diligent I was in my studies, my grades were still unfavorable. So my parents were disappointed in me, my teachers despised me, and my classmates also jeered and sneered at me. I felt miserable and depressed. Then I established a resolution: When I grow up, I must distinguish myself and become a rich man. And I must prove to all of you that I wasn’t born a loser.
After graduation, I took up business and made a little success.
After I finished my studies, with lofty ideals, I decided to go all out at work. I thought: “Only people who have money are successful and respectable. As long as I make good money, I can also achieve a lot.” Then I got into the insurance industry, an admirable fast-buck business with high bonus and welfare at the time. But in that fiercely competitive industry, one needed not only courage but more importantly, connections. At that time, there was a phrase prevailing in the industry: Having connections means having money. You get the rich, you get large orders.
In order to achieve my desire to distinguish myself, I began to attend in-house business training, such as: “How to be silver-tongued,” “How to get acquainted with the rich,” “How to broaden your connections,” and so on. I also actively participated in all kinds of parties organized by my company so as to acquaint myself with more rich people. Besides, my colleagues gave me many tips and told me I should learn to nod, stoop and play tricks. At first, I didn’t approve of their actions, but when I saw they could earn hundreds of thousands of New Taiwan (NT) dollars in a month and drive nice cars and buy new houses, I was a little shaken: Though I work very hard, I can merely get a low base salary. There’s a great difference between us. Thereupon, I began to use some of their tips and follow some of their actions. Before long, I became familiar with the business and meanwhile grasped some dirty tricks in the financial industry. Thus, not only did I have a comfortable income, but our family also lived a better life. Every time my relatives or friends cast gazes of admiration upon me, I felt very proud and thought: Finally I’ve stood up for my parents and become a useful person.
The good things didn’t last forever; I failed over and over again.
Just when I was feeling proud of my success, in 2008 a financial crisis had a great impact on the financial industry. Thereafter, my sales dropped off badly, my incomes sharply diminished and our company crashed in an instant. The business that I’d worked hard for went up in smoke in just a month or so. In the face of this sudden blow, my heart was in great pain, but I was not resigned to defeat. In order to strike it rich, without consulting my family, I invested all my savings of more than a million NT dollars and another 2 million borrowed from my friends in other projects. However, in a few months, I lost everything I owned. When my family knew I was deeply in debt, the family was almost ruined. However, I didn’t draw a lesson from it. For the sake of becoming a successful man, I still tried every means to find ways of getting rich. In 2009, I got an investment opportunity from a friend—acting as an agent for a well-known European supplement, which was said to sell very well in Europe. Carried away by the desire to make a lot of money, I ignored my family’s opposition and borrowed four or five million NT dollars from my friends. Then, through connections, I obtained from the leaders the chance to make a big fortune, that was I became the agency of the Chinese market. When thinking I could do something awesome in the market of mainland China, I couldn’t hold back my excitement. I thought to myself: When God closes a door, He opens a window for me. Mainland China is a bigger market. This is a good opportunity to achieve my dreams and turn my career around.
Only after I entered the market of mainland China—that many countries had been dreaming of—did I find that I didn’t know anything about it, for there were many factors we couldn’t control. Besides, our lack of capital incapacitated us from opening up in such a big market; limited by the parent company, we had no control over many operating plans. Due to all kinds of reasons, my funds were gradually tied up, my debts became greater and greater, and I sank deeper and deeper. I struggled there for seven years. During that period, many times my family and friends tried to persuade me to stop, but I was longing for success so much that I ignored their advice. At the end of 2015, I had no money in my hands and my debts totaled over ten million NT dollars. Facing such huge debts, I completely fell apart. Overwhelmed by the pain and desperation, I walked alone in the streets of Shanghai and suddenly I felt I was so helpless and weak. Previously I faithfully promised everyone that I would make lots of money, but in the end I was rewarded with this outcome. At the time, I was crushed and didn’t know how to walk my future path. Many times I thought about killing myself, but when I thought of my old parents as well as my wife and children, I couldn’t bear to do so. After thinking it over and over again, I stopped all the investments and went back to Taiwan. Confronted with the setbacks and failures, I was wrapped in depression and hopelessly sunk in the pain.
At my most miserable, God’s gospel came to me.
When I was in black despair, one friend I’d known for twenty years bore witness to God’s work of the last days for me. I read God’s words, “People hope for perfection, but when they 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 and though one may harbor audacious fantasies, no one has the ability or the power to realize their own dreams, and no one is in a position to control their 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 go to any length imaginable, will put forth great efforts and make great sacrifices for the sake of their livelihoods and future, in an 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. Regardless of differences in ability, intelligence, and willpower, people are all equal before fate, which does not distinguish between the great and the small, the high and the low, the exalted and the mean. 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.”
At the time, I was filled with all sorts of feelings and felt the words were saying exactly my circumstances. Indeed, everyone has his own plans, ideals, and dreams for the future and strives for them; however, whether our dreams can come true or not is not decided by us. In retrospect, after I entered into society, for the purpose of achieving my desires to rise above others and glorify my ancestors, I sought various ways to make money, but every time I couldn’t succeed and in the end I got nothing but great debts. These failures and setbacks allowed me to deeply realize: One is incapable of controlling his fate, nor can he change it by his own hands. How much wealth one can own in life and whether he is rich or poor are predetermined by God.
Afterward, I read God’s words, “In fact, no matter how lofty man’s ideals are, no matter how realistic man’s desires are or how proper they may be, all that man wants to achieve, all that man seeks for, is inextricably linked to two words. These two words are vitally important to the life of every person, and they are things Satan intends to instill in man. What are these two words? They are ‘fame’ and ‘gain.’ Satan uses a very subtle kind of method, a method very much in concert with people’s notions, which is not at all radical, through which it causes people to unknowingly accept its way of living, its rules to live by, and to establish life goals and their direction in life, and in doing so they also unknowingly come to have ambitions in life. No matter how grand these life ambitions may seem, they are inextricably linked to ‘fame’ and ‘gain.’ Everything that any great or famous person—all people, in fact—follow in life relates only to these two words: ‘fame’ and ‘gain.’ People think that once they have fame and gain, they can then capitalize on those things to enjoy high status and great wealth, and to enjoy life. They think fame and gain are a kind of capital that they can use to obtain a life of pleasure-seeking and wanton enjoyment of the flesh. For the sake of this fame and gain which mankind so covets, people willingly, albeit unknowingly, hand over their bodies, minds, all that they have, their futures and their destinies, to Satan. They do so without even a moment’s hesitation, ever ignorant of the need to recover all that they have handed over. Can people retain any control over themselves once they have taken refuge in Satan in this way and become loyal to it? Certainly not. They are completely and utterly controlled by Satan. They have completely and utterly sunk into a quagmire, and are unable to free themselves.”
Theallowed everything to become clear to me: The reason why I lived in pain was that I chose the wrong path. Educated and influenced by the thoughts of standing out and being an important person, I mistakenly believed that only when people win fame and fortune, lead an aristocratic lifestyle, and obtain the high regard of others, will their life be valuable and significant. Only such is the true life. On the surface, seeking fame and gain is a positive pursuit, but actually it is a means for Satan to corrupt man. Thinking about myself, in order to pursue fame and gain, I lost my original sincerity and conscience, and learnt to suck up to and curry favor with others, and I became hypocritical and did some things against conscience and morality. Although I felt uneasy after that, due to the temptation of fame and gain, I repeatedly disobeyed the prompting of my conscience and continued seeking to gain more fame and fortune. Even when my dream was shattered, I couldn’t bring myself to quit and still tried every possible way to make money and paid a great price. In the end, I was heavily in debt, and my family almost broke up. It was then that I realized that Satan used fame and gain to blind my eyes, making me strive for them so that it can afflict me and tempt me to walk on a road of no return. This is the evil intention of Satan.
Afterward, through having meetings with my brothers and sisters and reading God’s words, I realized: Seeking fame and gain isn’t the true and correct path of human life, but instead it is one of the ways Satan uses to corrupt people. Only when people seek the truth and obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements, can we break free from the affliction of Satan. So I decided to believe in God properly, follow Him and walk the right way of human life.
Facing temptations, I was in two minds.
When I wanted to cast off the bondage of fame and gain, I came up against Satan’s testing. One of my old friends suddenly called me and said, “I have a good friend, who manages a large Wealth Management Company in Hong Kong. And he has branch offices in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou. Now he is preparing to expand the business, so he wants an experienced account director. I think you should have a try. You can’t miss such a good opportunity.” After hanging up, I was wild with joy and thought: This is indeed a good opportunity. If I get this job, I can pay off my debts straight away. After that, I specially spared three days and flew to Hong Kong and Guangzhou to inspect the company. Before I went back, the superiors invited me to have dinner with them and we talked about our rosy prospects together. They invited me to take this job with an annual salary of 2.5 million NT dollars.
After returning to Taiwan, I felt very conflicted inside: “Should I go or should I not go? If I go to work in China, where the atheist CCP persecutes religious beliefs, I may give up believing in God and then I would miss this precious opportunity to be saved.” However, I also couldn’t bear to give up such a high salary. Therefore, I lived in torments.
One day when driving home, I picked up a call from a debt collector and so my mind was disturbed and I was distracted. When crossing an intersection, I almost hit someone. Thanks to God’s protection, at the last second I turned the wheel sharply. In order to calm myself down, I pulled over to the side of the road and kept calling out to God. Then I played a recitation of. I heard God’s words saying: “The question of most concern to Me is exactly to whom your hearts are loyal. I hope, too, that each of you will try to marshal your thoughts, and ask yourself to whom you are loyal and for whom you live. Perhaps you have never given careful consideration to these questions, so how about I reveal the answers to you?
“Anyone with a memory will acknowledge this fact: Man lives for himself and is loyal to himself. I do not believe your answers to be entirely correct, for you each exist in your respective lives and each are struggling with your own suffering. As such, you are loyal to the people you love and the things that please you; you are not entirely loyal to yourselves. Because you are each influenced by the people, occurrences, and objects around you, you are not truly loyal to yourselves.”
On the way home, I listened to this recitation of God’s word three times. After I arrived home safely, these words had deeply been branded onto my heart. I kept asking myself: Whom am I loyal to? Whom do I live for? These questions kept me up all night. Through reflecting on myself, I realized I wasn’t loyal to God, for I didn’t lay aside my pursuit of fame and fortune. In the face of this temptation, mywas revealed: Between the truth and fame, I preferred fame to the truth. I thought that as long as I took that job, I could rise again. If God hadn’t reminded me in a timely manner, I would have possibly betrayed God and returned to Satan’s camp. Being exposed by God’s words made me deeply ashamed.
Then I saw God’s words saying, “When one does not have God, when one cannot see Him, when one cannot clearly recognize God’s sovereignty, every day is meaningless, worthless, miserable. Wherever one is, whatever one’s job is, one’s means of living and the pursuit of one’s goals bring one nothing but endless heartbreak and suffering without relief, such that one cannot bear to look back on one’s past. Only when one accepts the Creator’s sovereignty, submits to His orchestrations and arrangements, and seeks true human life will one gradually begin to break free from all heartbreak and suffering, and to be rid of all the emptiness of life.” “There is an exceedingly simple way to free oneself from this state, which is to bid farewell to one’s former way of living; to say goodbye to one’s previous goals in life; to summarize and analyze one’s previous lifestyle, view of life, pursuits, desires, and ideals; and then to compare them with God’s will and demands for man, and see whether any of them is consistent with God’s will and demands, whether any of them delivers the right values of life, leads one to a greater understanding of the truth, and allows one to live with humanity and the likeness of a human being. When you repeatedly investigate and carefully dissect the various goals that people pursue in life and their myriad ways of living, you will find not one of them conforms to the Creator’s original intention with which He created humanity. All of them draw people away from the Creator’s sovereignty and care; they are all traps which cause people to become depraved, and which lead them to hell. After you recognize this, your task is to lay aside your old view of life, stay far from various traps, let God take charge of your life and make arrangements for you; it is to try only to submit to God’s orchestrations and guidance, to live without individual choice, and to become a person who worships God.”
God’s words gave me a direction in my life and the way of practice: I should entrust everything to God and submit to His orchestrations and arrangements. Only in this way, can I live freely and without restraints. God used this temptation to test me in order to see what I would choose in the face of fame and fortune: to satisfy God or to satisfy my fleshly desires and betray God. I also thought of Job’s experience. He had no personal ambition or desire for fame and gain, because he knew how much wealth one could have does not depend on his own struggles but is predetermined by God. When Job was possessed of great wealth, he didn’t seek to make more money but faced God’s blessings with calmness; when he lost his fortune, he still praised. Because of his true knowledge of God’s authority and his true reverence for and obedience to Him, whether he was possessed of vast wealth or had nothing, he was able to face both calmly. At the time, I was greatly encouraged. I was willing to imitate Job, to be a person who truly submitted to God, and to live for satisfying God.
After a struggle, I politely declined the good intentions of my friend and the leaders and told them, “I don’t want to take this job because I have more important things to do for the rest of my life.” Hearing my words, my friend couldn’t understand me, but I knew clearly what I should pursue—contributing my own tiny effort to God’s work in the last days and living a meaningful life. After I arrived home, I felt as if a heavy burden was unloaded from my heart.
After casting off the bondage of fame, I saw God’s deeds.
In the following days, I committed the matter of finding a job to God and asked Him to lead me and guide me. Afterward, I found a night job as well as a part-time job on financial transaction during the daytime. That way, apart from our daily expenses, I could have some extra money to pay my debts. Besides, in my life I saw God’s wondrous deeds and His blessings to me. Once, as our company folded, I needed to go to mainland China to take care of some procedural tasks, but I didn’t have the budget of travel expenses. Just as I was fretting over this issue, one of my old customers suddenly called me and wanted to buy some financial products from me. What he paid me was exactly enough to buy the round-trip ticket. Afterward, every time I met difficulties, God would provide a way out for me. There was an unspeakable feeling that moved my heart and I could only keep thanking and praising God in my heart.
Although I lead an ordinary life now, I live by God’s words every day and so I feel very released and free. Thank God for His salvation toward me. It is God who gives me a significant life and it is He who allows me to fulfill my duty as a created being. I’m willing to pursue the truth properly to repay His love. Thank Almighty God. All the glory be to Almighty God.