Life has many turning points. We see that life can come to an end in just a moment of time. At each turning point in our life, who guides you to negotiate these points safely?
Seeing God at the Turning Points of Life
(adapted from a sermon by Pr Wu Hao)
Who is God?
People go to the temple to offer up joss-sticks. They seek to increase their blessings, wealth, lifespan, for status and power. Their worship is a means of exchange between them and their gods for personal gains. However, Lord Jesus whom we worship today is God Himself. He has come in flesh into this world, to seek those who belong to Him, and for people who are lost in the world.
Yet it is not possible for us to rely on our own means to get rid of our own sins. If a mafia boss with his many gambling dens, subordinates who work to collect protection money, and perform all other evil deeds on his behalf could use money to exchange for eternal life, to buy himself a place in heaven, then this heaven is not fair. Only when we recognise our wickedness and sins, will our lives start to change, are we able to accept our Lord Jesus Christ, a friend to all the peoples of the world.
So what is life? Are you able to grab hold of life? Life is but just a breath, just by pinching your nose and holding your breath and you will know that you cannot continue for long. Or if you were to dive under water, holding your breath for one or two minutes; you will be considered good, but you will eventually have to come up to the surface to breathe.
I know someone who can remain in the water for three to four hours. This person is Deacon Lu in Sabah, Malaysia. I first met him when I was assisting with work in Sabah. This deacon used to be a practitioner of witchcraft, and when I was there, he showed me a photograph, showing a bullet mark on his chest. He told me how seven of them from the hill tribes in Sabah, went to study witchcraft and they had become quite proficient; Deacon Lu’s skill was the best among them. If Deacon Lu wanted to eat chicken meat, he could use sorcery and there would be a chicken from another village flying its way into his home. He was able walk into the waters and stay under water without an oxygen tank, proving that his skills surpassed that of the other sorcerers. He told me how, to prove to everyone else in his village that he was the best, he gathered everyone in the village and asked someone to take the gun they had in the village to use it to shoot him. Someone in the village really fired the gun at him. Everyone in the village saw the bullet hit his body, but the bullet did not penetrate him. It appeared as though he experienced only a little pain from the impact, and that was how he came to have the burn mark on his chest. Yet five of them died one after another, until only two of them survived. He was one of them and I asked him why? He said that it is because both of them believed in Jesus.
Then why did he come and believe in Jesus? Because he took on a case involving a believer of the True Jesus Church. Someone had engaged him to harm this True Jesus Church believer and he tried to harm this believer with his witchcraft but this person remained peaceful. So Deacon Lu was perplexed. Others told him that it was because the God whom this True Jesus Church believer believes in is the true God. They have the abidance of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, who is definitely more powerful than witchcraft. Of all the cases that he took up against True Jesus Church members, he failed in all attempts.
As a result, he came to search our teachings, incredulous that there is a spirit in this world that is more powerful than his sorcerer spirit. So he came to search for the truth and also received the Holy Spirit. Why did he receive the Holy Spirit? That is because he repented. Of all the wickedness, the things that he did wrong in the past, he asked the Lord to give him a new heart. As a sorcerer, his income was not bad. However he now knew that witchcraft is no good, and after he believed in the Lord, he no longer took up assignments from people, because he became a disciple of the Lord Jesus. God changed his life.
Why come to seek God?
So what is life?
James 4:14 – whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
The time now is 8.10PM. What happens before 8.10PM is already history. You know where you were an hour ago. You know what you have eaten your dinner. When you are old, you do not need to remember so many things. You forget about the money that people have owed you. The psychologist says that those with poor memory lead happier lives. But what is going to happen tomorrow and what is going to happen in the next moment? When will it rain tomorrow, who can guess? I have been here for half a month and have been trying to guess whether it will rain in the morning or afternoon tomorrow. But I did not need to wait till tomorrow because it started to rain at 10PM. How much control do we have in the span of our time? If man lives till 80, then for our theological students who are 15 years old, you have 65 more years to go, how much control do you have over the 65 years of time? We do not know what is going to happen in the next moment of our lives.
But if we know that we are able to entrust our lives, to put it in the hands of someone who we can trust, then from tomorrow onwards we can be very much at peace leading our lives.
Jesus says in John 11: 25, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”
And in John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…”
The book of Ecclesiastes says that no one can control his own life, only God can. Today after we believe in God and follow the Lord Jesus, the Lord gives us His life, because he is the Lord of life.
Hua Tan Church is in a part of Taiwan and they were about to dedicate the church building. Hua Tan, during the early days, was a place where the people made bricks, and one of our believers was the owner of such a factory. After the materials for the bricks were compacted properly, it was sent to the furnace to be burnt. The bricks needed to be stacked up and he had many workers to do it. On one occasion when all the bricks have been stacked up, they closed the grills and the doors because they had to start the fire in the furnace; it was to burn for a long time. All the workers left before firing up the furnace. However they did not know that their boss was still inside. The door had to be closed from the outside and since the bricks had to be burnt for the entire night, the workers left after they locked up the furnace. The boss started to be anxious. He realized the danger he was in. It started to get hot and he banged vigorously on the door but no one outside could hear him as the furnace was loud. After using up his energy, he knelt down and started to pray. There was no other way.
Although the sound of prayers would never be louder than the sound of banging and also the more he shouted in his prayers, the more tired he was, he had no other option but to pray. The factory was about 80-90m from his house. Logically, no one should be able to hear his prayers; you would only be able to hear the sound of the furnace burning. Yet, a miracle happened. His workers were sitting around drinking, waiting for their boss to come join them for tea. Nobody thought about where their boss was, until they heard a faint sound of someone praying. Logically that should not be audible, but God had allowed one of them to hear this faint sound of prayer. Then this person started to ask, “Where is our boss?” Only then did they discover that their boss did not come out, and they quickly called those workers who have left to shut the fire, to open the furnace door and to save their boss.
Life has many turning points
We see that life can come to an end in just a moment of time. When we drive in a mountainous area, we have to make many turns and each time we make a turn we have to look at the big reflective mirror beside the road to make sure that there is no car coming from the other side at the same time. Sometimes when we see that there is a car coming in front, we will try to slow our cars. But do you think that with that you are safe? What happens if it is after rain? What if there is a hole in the middle of the road? By looking at the mirror you will know that there is water, but you are not able to see that there is actually water in a hole. And when you make a turn, you feel that it is safe but you may just fall into this hole. So at each turning point in our life, who guides you to negotiate these points safely?
In the northern part in Taiwan, I gave a testimony. We had a believer who worked as a chef on board a fishing boat. There was a storm one night so the fishing boat did not go out for a catch and the person in-charge told everyone to rest early. This brother, being the chef, thought of taking out the meat that he would be cooking the next day earlier to defrost. He went into the freezer to take out the meat. The handle on the door of the freezer looked like a wheel and you had to turn with some difficulty to open it. Regardless of which he opened the door of the freezer and went in. Under normal circumstances when the sea is calm it would have been alright to leave the door open as he did. However, he forgot that the winds were strong and the waves were big. Within a few seconds after he went in, he heard the sound of the door shutting behind him.
He started getting anxious, because he might lose his life; in freezers used out at sea, to keep their catch fresh, temperatures were kept lower than -15 to -18 degrees. Also, the door could only be opened from the outside. He only had on with him a thin sweater, as he thought it would have only been a few seconds’ effort for him to bring out the meat and was at a loss what to do. He started to feel cold and breathing became difficult. He thought about how he might be frozen by the time someone found him the next morning and started to pray. He prayed until he perspired, till he had no strength left anymore, saying, “Lord, please save me, please save me!”
Everyone on board was sound asleep then and was definitely unable to hear anything, least of all the sound of someone in the freezer. Yet, at that moment of danger, our brother heard the door of the freezer open. Who opened it? God opened the door. God sent the angels to open the door and he quickly rushed out, before the wind could close the door again. The wind can slam the door shut but the wind will not be able to turn the wheel of the door to open it. When the door is opened and he rushed out, he took in a deep breath of fresh air and he started to shed tears. He testified that if God had not saved him, he would have died on that fishing boat.
I know of another testimony. There was this building on the northern side of Taiwan that was washed away by a landslide and over 20 people died. Of one family of four, only the mother survived; unfortunately, her husband and child did not. They had been outdoors and she wanted to go call them inside the house. The moment she opened the door, the landslide came and she was also covered. She survived because there was a gap between the wall and the door and she was not fully covered. She was stuck until 3PM when the rescuer heard a very faint call for help and she was rescued. She was sent to the emergency room for treatment immediately because her feet were buried in the soil for a very long time and there was discussion whether to amputate them. While she was in the hospital she cried herself to sleep every night because she had no family to visit her. She wanted to die but she was not able to move. She started to cry and cry until her tears were dry. The people in the community felt that those who went through this disaster were very pitiful and many people came to visit them including this woman. Many Christian organisations went to her and sang hymns to comfort her but she refused to be comforted. She was asking herself why she was still alive when her husband and children were dead.
In the northern part of Taiwan, we have two hospital evangelism teams for two regions/area, Chang Geng region was overseen by Da Tong Church and Tai Da region by Taipei church. Our church members also went to visit the hospital and gave out tracts in the ward. They met her in that manner while her elder sister was taking care of her. Her elder sister thought that since this is a visiting church group, it would be good to let them sing some hymns for her. After the hymn singing, the members from the hospital evangelism team wanted to pray for her. She noticed that while the other churches that have visited her would usually prayed in words, our church prayed in tongues for her. She was surprised by the way our church prayed and had kept her eyes open.
This was how she came to see her sister’s toes moving during the prayer. The doctor had said that she would not be able to keep her legs since she had lost all sensation. When the elder sister saw her younger sister’s toes moving, she requested the hospital evangelism team to come back the next day to pray for her. The evangelism team visited daily. When the doctors discovered that she still had sensation in her legs, they decided that her legs could still be saved. They started to give her more treatment sessions and her health improved.
She was also learnt how to pray, and felt that each time she prayed in the name of Jesus, her heart starts to open and joy starts to flow in. Although she told herself that she could no longer be happy now that her husband and children were dead, God knew her need. She could not continue in her sorrows forever, therefore God granted her a heart of joy. When she was discharged from the hospital, she went to the church, she received the Holy Spirit and within a year, she was baptised in the True Jesus Church. A year after that, when I was in Miao Li church and when I talked about her testimony, it was really very extraordinary. After the prayer, the resident preacher there brought me to meet sister Hong, whom they intended to help bear testimony later in the day. There was no longer any need as I had also spoken of her testimony; she was the one who suffered and came to believe after the landslide.
Even though I am worried that when I share testimonies in Singapore, the person whom I testify of would be sitting here listening, this feeling is actually great. Because we are truly talking about testimonies of life. Of course I can talk about my own testimonies, and there are even many passages about the testimonies of life found in the Holy Scriptures. If we know this True God and from His word we know that He is the Lord of life, then definitely we will be able to see God.
So everytime I see brother Huang, I am full of thanksgiving, because it was God who saved his life; if not for God, he would have froze to death in the freezer. When I saw Hong Su Mei, I did not know her and I did not recognise her, and never would I imagine that after a year she was baptised, and that when I talked about her testimony she was sitting there listening. Our God is a true and living God. Apostle Paul is the same. His life is changed by God. He is someone who was persecuting God but on his road to Damascus, God made that a turning point in his life, and he witnessed God with his own eyes.
1 Corinthians 5:8 also says, this Lord who has chosen him is Jesus and He has risen to life and He is by the right hand of God. And God has manifested Himself to him. Then Paul became a worker of God who would use all his efforts and his whole life to preach the gospel.
When we receive the Holy Spirit, it is proof that God is with us. We see that God is with us with our own eyes and He does a marvellous work in our bodies. This is why I hope that you may come and believe in Jesus. This True and Living God will never disappoint you. You can embrace Him and receive the greatest strength in your life from Him. And if you have faced ups and downs in your life and you have gone through many turns, all the more you need this true God to control the destiny of your life.