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 (Manna 60: Money)
God Will Never Leave Me
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God Will Never Leave Me

AH—Kowloon, Hong Kong

MY PLAN, NOT GOD’S PLAN

“Yesterday, today, forever, Jesus is the same. All may change, but Jesus never!” These lyrics from the hymn “Yesterday, Today, Forever” mean a lot to me. I found out firsthand how they are the best medicine to heal a sorrowful soul.

In the early 1990s, I had many plans for my life. My first priority was to enable my parents to have a comfortable and happy retirement—I pictured them sitting in big armchairs looking content and happy.

I wanted this because they both had very unhappy childhoods, were abandoned and given away by their parents, and had worked very hard as immigrants in England to bring up six children. They ran a business without any knowledge of English and had to cope with Mum’s kidney problems, which caused her to be in and out of the hospital regularly.

I thought that if I worked hard at my job, I would be able to provide them with the material things they needed for a comfortable, worry-free retirement. However, my plan was not God’s plan.

Dad was diagnosed with rectal cancer soon after retiring. After the first session of chemotherapy, the doctor told us the cancer had spread and chemotherapy was no use. Dad started to suffer endless pain, and even injections of morphine had no effect towards the end. He died within six months of the diagnosis at age fifty-nine.

After Dad’s death, my focus was on Mum. She was a kidney transplant patient at the time and needed someone to help her while she recovered. To take her mind off Dad, I spent all of my spare time with her and did all that I could to give her the best and make her happy. Yet, I saw no joy or lessening of pain in her heavy heart.

I then came up with what I thought was a clever idea: I would have a baby to keep Mum company and take her mind off Dad, thinking that would make her happy. Soon after, I conceived and bought a house across the street from her. She once said to me, “I wish I could see you when I wave my hand in the living room window.” Living in the house opposite to hers would fulfill her wish and show that we all loved her dearly even though Dad was gone.

However, things did not unfold according to my calculations. Mum had a stroke before my baby was born. She was paralyzed on her left side below the shoulder and required a long period of recovery at the hospital. Besides running a Chinese takeout, I visited her daily and cooked for her. All of my effort paid off after seeing her improvement, which encouraged me to go on despite a tired mind and body.

After my daughter was born, I wanted to take her to see Mum straight away. However, my husband objected and explained that there would be plenty of time and opportunities in the future because Mum was on the road to recovery. Taking a newborn baby to a busy city hospital would be unwise. As I didn’t want to argue with him, I agreed.

I could just imagine Mum’s happiness when she saw her granddaughter, my special gift to her, a few weeks later. However, Mum did not have the chance to see her present.

Just two weeks after the birth of my daughter, Mum passed away unexpectedly. As I held her warm and soft body until it turned cool and stiff, all I could do was cry. Why was God so cruel that He took away my dad and mum within eighteen months? He destroyed my biggest purpose in life and shattered my world.

A PAINFUL HEART

My husband worried that I would have a nervous breakdown or suffer from postpartum depression because I was so deeply affected. Everything now seemed pointless to me.

Deep down I blamed myself because I believed that my parents’ deaths might be punishment from God for all the wrongdoings in my life—in particular, not acting upon His words after my baptism. My whole family except Dad was baptized into the True Jesus Church in the late 1970s when Mum was suffering from fatal kidney failure. I didn’t have any particularly strong feelings about baptism but felt that if our baptisms cured Mum, then it was a good thing that I would do.

Through God’s mercy, Mum pulled through each time the doctors said that she might not make it. I prayed hard whenever something went wrong with Mum but would again be my disinterested self when she recovered. I was young and wanted to enjoy life. I believed that religion could wait until I got older, perhaps when I entered my forties or fifties.

Therefore, while I attended church services and listened to sermons every week, I was not interested in committing myself seriously to Christianity. When I lost my parents, I still had a very shallow faith because I hadn’t established a relationship with God. Instead of turning to the church and prayer for support during that difficult time, I began to hate myself and believed that I would never ever be happy again.

The thought of suicide passed through my mind, but seeing my daughter’s tiny face helped me come to my senses. This baby was innocent and had not asked to come into this world. I was responsible for her and could not pass the responsibility to my husband alone. I carried on as a mother and an elder sister to my siblings, and I continued to run the takeout business.

However, in doing all of this with a painful heart, I almost had a nervous breakdown. The hard work of running the business, being an inexperienced mother, and worrying over whether my siblings were taken care of drained away all my energy.

I thought of my parents every day because I had taken over the business they operated for many years, and everything there reminded me of them. Knowing that all of my plans for them had gone wrong gradually affected my personality. I would get depressed very easily, especially on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, their birthdays, and the days they died.

I was jealous when other people mentioned their parents. I would take out my anger, sorrow, and depression on my husband, blaming him for all the hard work I had to do. I acted out in many ways: shouting so loudly that it could be heard next door, breaking things, even contemplating a divorce.

I knew I should not have behaved in this manner, but I couldn’t control myself. These extreme thoughts and actions seemed to be my way of releasing the pressure within me.

However, things could not continue like this. Both my husband and I felt the problem had to be resolved before I ended up in a mental hospital. We had a serious discussion about leaving the country because unhappiness surrounded us there; perhaps I would be a happy, normal person in a new environment. In autumn 1999, we left England for Hong Kong hoping for a new life.

A DORMANT FAITH

We thought that leaving England would improve my disposition but things were worse. I was still unhappy, and the endless work and pressure from work did nothing to improve my temper.

Yet, I still did not seek God’s help. I attended services at church because it was a routine for me, but I did not have any connection to faith, and I did not pursue spiritual cultivation.

During that time, I started to have bad dreams and nightmares. I had often dreamt of my parents after they passed away, but now my dreams started to affect me badly. On top of that, they were quite frequent, probably due to my busy life. I would scream, lash out physically, and panic because of them, and my husband had to calm me down when he was awakened by me.

I once dreamt that someone chased me down an endless road. Another time, I dreamt that I was dying, and as I lay in bed my spirit sank lower and lower like it was falling down a hole, but there was no bottom.

I also dreamt that I was entering the chapel, and I saw that everyone inside was wearing white except for me—I was in black. This scared me because I didn’t want to end up in hell after I died. I wanted to see my parents in heaven.

Because of these dreams and many similar ones, I started to think about God and my faith seriously. I still wondered why, if He wanted to punish me for my wrongdoings, He punished my parents instead of me. I felt both guilty and angry at God, yet I hoped that there was still a chance I could be saved.

I knew that I needed help, but I wasn’t sure where to start. However, as I was still going to church, I started to listen attentively to the sermons. Despite my efforts to concentrate and learn during church, I still felt that God did not love me. God’s words had no effect on me and did not touch my heart.

A few days before the 2006 spiritual convocation at Kowloon Church, my husband joyfully told me that he had just received the Holy Spirit. I was happy for him and said something like, “Good! You can die without fear now.” Little did I know, I would be given the same mercy from God in a few days’ time.

GOD’S IMMENSE LOVE

The spiritual convocation at Kowloon Church was the turning point for me. That Sabbath day, for the first time in my life, I felt that every word spoken by the preacher was directed at and meant for me. I will never forget that my life changed completely that day, when I finally left the depths of grief and was transported into the loving arms of God.

As I listened to the sermon, tears began to run down my cheeks. I lowered my head, hoping that others would not see me crying. All my life, I felt that crying in front of others was a sign of weakness. Being strong and coping with difficulty well were important to me, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t hold back my tears.

All the wrongdoings in my past came back to me, and I was so ashamed of being a sinner that I didn’t feel worthy to hold my head up. I felt a lot of hurt and pain when I reflected on my past. I had never experienced this before. I was glad that I was sitting near the back because I could hide my tears a little better.

I planned to wipe my face discreetly during the ending prayer, but as soon as I closed my eyes, all I could do was cry. I did not care anymore if others around me could hear me crying in the prayer. I was so ashamed of my sins and how I had not lived out God’s word all these years. My thoughts were focused on God, and I started to pray earnestly.

Suddenly, I felt God’s immense love in me. It was the first time in my life that I truly felt His existence. I was like a little lost sheep that He had not abandoned and still cared to find even after all my wrongdoings.

I cried like a baby in the prayer and wished it would never end because I had so much to tell God. I wanted to tell Him about my sorrow, all the tears that I had shed over Dad and Mum for so many years, my regret over my sins, and the shame and guilt in my heart. God was the only one who truly understood me and how I had lived so unhappily for the past fifteen years.

I felt God’s love and mercy surround me as many emotions swirled within me, and I shed many tears. I wondered if what was happening had something to do with the Holy Spirit, which I had heard about ever since my baptism but had never experienced.

I decided that there was no way God would bestow His precious gift on me because I had sinned so much. I just wanted Him to understand my sorrow and feel His mercy and forgiveness. I did not dare to ask Him for the Holy Spirit in my prayer.

However, I was very curious to find out what this strange feeling inside me was—I was so eager to pray, I didn’t want the prayer to end. I also felt joy in my heart despite the tears of guilt and shame.

In the past, my mind wandered most of the time during prayer. I only prayed seriously when I interceded for my parents. But because of this new experience in prayer, for the first time in my life, I mustered up the courage to move to the front row during the next prayer session.

To my surprise, the minister told me afterward that I had received the Holy Spirit. It was proof that God had really forgiven a sinner like me. Nevertheless, I was afraid that there had been a mistake, so I was hesitant to believe it fully.

A few weeks later, a different minister confirmed that I had received the Holy Spirit, and I believed it with a heart full of happiness. Receiving God’s forgiveness and love changed me. The burden in my heart lifted.

PROGRESS IN FAITH

Knowing that God had forgiven me and still loved me helped tremendously. The bad dreams and nightmares occurred less frequently and my temper improved. I began reading many church publications such as the Holy Spirit Monthly. I joined fellowships and other church events, which helped me understand the Bible more deeply.

Attending church from then on was a happy and enjoyable event for me and no longer a habit or routine. However, I still thought a lot about Mum and Dad and wished that they were still alive. As I learned more biblical teachings, I was afraid that God would dislike me because Jesus said, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Mt 10:37).

One night in autumn 2008, I had a strange dream. I dreamt that I was looking in a mirror but couldn’t see my own reflection. I got scared and asked my husband to look in the mirror, and he couldn’t see his reflection either. I believed that this meant both of us were dead.

While I was thinking this, I looked in the mirror again and suddenly saw the beautiful faces of a man and a woman in their youth. They both looked so young and happy. I knew straight away that they were the ones I longed day and night to see. I screamed out, “It’s Mum and Dad!” My screaming woke me up and I couldn’t stop crying out of happiness when I realized that I was repeatedly saying, “Hallelujah, praise the Lord.”

I recalled reading a testimony from a sister who said she had often shed tears over a relative who had passed away. One day, she had a dream or vision and saw that relative in heaven, looking like he had as a youth. Seeing my parents in their youth comforted me and gave me hope that they were safe in the hands of God.

I do not know whether the dream was God’s way of comforting me or just me thinking too deeply of them both. Nevertheless, I truly thank God for allowing me to have this dream because it helped me to not think about the past and move forward in my faith and my life.

GOD WILL NOT ABANDON HIS SHEEP

Looking back now I see that God opened a path for me out of my difficulties. If He hadn’t given me a tolerant and loving husband and our baby daughter around the time of Mum’s death, I would not have been able to carry on at all.

Usually, my husband did not interfere when my anger exploded. He would just listen to my threats and harsh words of blame and wait for me to calm down. I am thankful and grateful that God gave my husband the strength and patience to stand a wife like that for many years. 

God also gave me a daughter that any mother would want. I remember that I once scolded her heavily over her homework when she was about six years old. When I woke her up for school the next morning, she said to me, “Mum, I am very sorry for upsetting you last night, really sorry.”

I knew straight away that she must have cried all night without sleeping because of me. How could I have done this to my beloved daughter?

There was another time when she came to my room to comfort me. She said, “Are you missing grandma and granddad again?” I asked her how she knew that I missed them. She said, “I saw you holding the photo of them in your hand for a long time.” Thank God for giving me such a loving girl.

God took away Dad and Mum but gave me a wonderful daughter and a good husband that I could rely on at the lowest point of my life. I cannot imagine what I would have become without them by my side.

I truly believe that God’s word is true and that He will not abandon His lost sheep. He let me go through my deepest, most difficult trial and then led me back to Him. The Bible states:

            “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?” (Lk 15:4)

            “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mt 11:28)

            “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.” (Ps 51:17)

Every time I hear these words, my heart is filled with thanksgiving.

Dear brothers and sisters, if you think you are a sinner and do not deserve the love of God, please remember that His love and forgiveness are immense and beyond our imagination. All we need to do is open our hearts and face Him. As it says in Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

I have God to rely on now. Others may leave me tomorrow, but God will never leave me. As long as God is there, I will not be afraid to continue on my path. I just hope that I can remain pure until the end of my road and that I can face Him with a guilt-free conscience. No matter what tomorrow will bring, He will always be there for me.

            Yesterday, today, forever, Jesus is the same.
All may change, but Jesus never! Glory to His Name!

           

 

 

 

 

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Author: AH
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