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 (Manna 21: To the End of the Earth)
Give God the Priority
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Hallelujah, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ I testify. The following is an account of my personal experience which I hope will serve as spiritual edification for all brothers, sisters, and friends, as indeed it was very much so for me.

When Queen Elizabeth II of England proclaimed in her Parliamentary speech at the end of 1992 that for her, 1992 had been an annus horribilis (Latin for "horrible year"), I immediately thought how true those words were from a personal viewpoint. In more ways than one, my 1992 had indeed been a "horrible year."

I was in my final year of pre-university studies at a very competitive private school. The pressure upon all the students was intense as they worked towards the final examinations that would gain them university places. I was under added pressure, having to help out at my parents' shop during weekends and school holidays, from early evening to the early hours of the morning. Unlike all the other students, I also had to attend church services. I was busy with a lot of church work assigned to me and had to attend religious education (R.E.) classes, choir practices, and Chinese language classes. All these put a considerable strain upon me, and I felt I could no longer cope. At that moment, I really wished that I could somehow ease the burden. Unfortunately, I began to form a distorted view of my priorities, deciding that education was most important.

Since I could not avoid helping my parents run the business, I saw that the easy way out was to shake off the responsibilities I was given in church and to place God as my last priority. The consequence of this was that I gradually lost interest in both church work and fellowship with our church members. I became reluctant to do further divine work assigned to me. I felt that attending church service, R.E. class and choir practice were tiresome, and were taking up my precious study time.

In contrast, I started to draw near to my school friends outside the church. I would often go out with them until very late at night pursuing a good time, and generally enjoying their companionship. I was more concerned for them than for brothers and sisters in church. My spirituality and faith became weaker and weaker, and God seemed to be further and further from me; or rather, I was drawing further away from God.

It was no coincidence that throughout this period, I underwent the deepest depression. I became more and more tired and burdened with my life. I thought how unjust it all was, that here I was a Christian, a believer in God, yet still burdened with so many pressures. God was supposed to be with me. Yet all my school friends seemed to have an easier environment in which they could concentrate on their studies and still relax and enjoy themselves at the same time. I thought that there was no justice and reward in leading a Christian life.

My poor relationship with God and the church manifested itself fully when I decided to rely on my own intellect and ability, instead of on God, for the important examinations. At night, I would read my school textbooks without turning to a page of the Bible. It was under these circumstances that I sat for the exams.

Suffice it to say, when the results were published in August 1992, I found that I had missed a place at university. The bitterness, anger and sorrow that I felt were indeed unforgettable. But these feelings were not directed at God, the church or my parents; these feelings were directed at myself. For I realized immediately how I had landed in that situation. I knew that the true reason was that I had not given God my highest priority. Though at the time it seemed that it was God's punishment for me for not having love and faith towards Him, in hindsight now, it truly was a blessing in disguise.

So the next year, I knew that I had to realign my relationship with God. I was determined to give God first priority. With all my school friends gaining their university places, I had the opportunity to draw near to my brothers and sisters in church again. With the pressure of study being less intense, I was able to undertake church work with sincerity and enjoyment. I began interpreting for services, became a trainee teacher for R.E. classes, and developed a hunger for spiritual advancement.

In giving God my highest priority, He indeed added blessings upon me. He gave me a place in a university, starting October 1993, with the examination results I obtained. Furthermore, the university at which He gave me a place is prestigious and offered a better course than my original choice. More importantly, it was located close to church so that I could continue to maintain a close relationship with God and the church, with my brothers and sisters.

In denying me a university place the first instance, God gave me a better chance. I have been given the wonderful opportunity to draw closer to Him, as well as my brothers and sisters. He has also enabled me to undertake divine work, and to grow up in personal maturity and spirituality.

I hope that this sharing of my personal experience will enable us to see that God indeed works in mysterious but wonderful ways. The Lord orders a man's steps. We should not be concerned about our immediate worries or troubles. Therefore, as Christians and fellow brethren of the True Jesus Church, all we need to be concerned with is giving God our first priority, and He will surely provide for us. Finally, I would like to share with you a Bible verse:

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. (Mt 6:33)
May all glory be given to God, hallelujah.

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Publisher: True Jesus Church